Signs of summer: Big crowd greets fair’s opening

By From page A1 | August 15, 2013

Gracie Cecilia Martinez, 5, checks to make sure she's tall enough for the carousel. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Gracie Cecilia Martinez, 5, checks to make sure she's tall enough for the carousel. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Check it out

What: Yolo County Fair

When: 9 a.m. to midnight, through Sunday

Where: Yolo County Fairgrounds, 1250 E. Gum Ave., Woodland

Cost: Admission is free; parking is $5

Yolo Idol: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday on the West Stage

Destruction Derby: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday ($20 admission)

Kids’ Drawing: Register between 3 and 4:15 p.m. Saturday. Drawing begins at 4:30 p.m. on the Community Stage

Information: yolocountyfair.net or call 530-402-2222

WOODLAND — Past the SEE THE GIANT GATOR exhibit and the cotton candy and Reveille Lions Club Famous Roast Beef Sandwich stand, 5-year-old Gracie Cecilia Martinez eyed a sign.

You must be 42 inches tall to ride alone or 36 inches and accompanied by a responsible person.

Gracie looked like she measured up, but the carousel’s horses each had someone in the saddle for this go-‘round at the Yolo County Fair, which, on Wednesday’s opening night, seemed to have attracted twice as many visitors as a year ago.

“This year’s a lot better,” said Gracie’s dad, Al Martinez, a cannery worker, standing with his wife, Delores, who owns a housecleaning business, and their daughter Andrea, 12.

“Maybe last year because the economy was bad, it was hard for some people. This year, there are more families out.”

Three Ferris wheels turned among rides an attractions like the Tornado, the Hall of Horrors and a dated-looking Starship 2000. At the Sizzler, another sign:

Warning: this ride eats phones.

Up high, two shirtless workers tightened bolts, presumably to keep the Falling Star from falling. Carnies glanced around from under 4-foot-tall Scooby Doos, waiting for someone to notice Frog Bog, Tons of Fun, the Shooting Gallery.

Over at the Future Farmers of America barn, Amelia Crary, who graduated from Davis High School in June, already sported a winner’s medal around her neck.

She guided 6-month-old, 114-pound Lancelot to victory in the goat race. In 43 seconds, he finished the obstacle course, which included a seesaw, a plank, weave cones, Hula Hoops and a pause table: a stanchion onto which Lancelot had to hop, then hold still, his ears hanging down.

Angry goats make something of a half-scream, half-baa sound. They stomp their front feet, lock their joints and won’t budge.

Not Lancelot.

Amelia said that’s because she and the Boer (a market breed)/Nubian (dairy) mix, worked through any stubbornness with three months worth of practice.

“He’ll get treats or something,” Amelia said. “He got a lot of attention today. Goats love attention.”

Past the churros and jumbo corn dogs and SNO KONES, beyond the Udder D-lite ice cream stand and the pupusas and the grilled corn, a line stretched out among the picnic tables: People waiting to buy boxes of tacos from a stand manned by Holy Rosary Catholic Church volunteers.

Behind the stand, a sign:

Volunteers: Help yourself to broken tacos.

The stand is a team effort, with Patty Perez, a Yolo County Health Department employee, running the show. One of her 300 or so volunteers, ages 12 to 85 or 90, is Sylvia Chavez, whose day job is with the Department of Corrections.

Each year, the volunteers sell 40,000 to 45,000 tacos they assemble at the commissary, then fry and serve at the fair. Farmers donate fresh tomatoes and peppers to accompany 3,000 pounds of beef.

The volunteers bring in as much as $50,000 in profit. The haul from the past three years helped pay for a new community center. This year, they’re raising money for a new church building.

Their signs call the tacos famous.

“The tacos have been part of the county fair for 55, 56 years,” Sylvia explained. “I think when the whole community comes together, it goes into the flavor of the tacos. I call it a blessing.”

Over by the mechanical bull, Alan Jackson’s voice sang “I’m a country boy.” At the same time, over the loud speakers, a woman’s voice thanked a list of fair sponsors. Here, tow truck companies and banks get equal billing.

By the rows of cars in the bumpy dirt lot, Backseat Betty’s Kissing Booth stood empty. The sky grew dark.

Back inside the gates, the crowd remained. Sunglasses were perched on cowboy hats.

And the midway glowed and glowed with candy-colored lights.

— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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