Demolition derbies, a karaoke singing contest, and antique tractors — it must be time for the Yolo County Fair. The five-day fair runs Wednesday, Aug. 15, through Sunday, Aug. 19, and is themed “Sheep Thrills & Muddy Wheels.”
The theme was chosen to celebrate the moving of the Demolition Derby from a Saturday-Sunday evening event to a Friday-Saturday event to accommodate attendees that work early on Monday and don’t want to be out late Sunday night. Fair planners liked the “Sheep Thrills & Muddy Wheels” theme because it allowed them to feature the image of a sheep on a jeep in celebration of the new derby days.
The fair is indeed “sheep” — or rather “cheap.” Yolo County Fair is the oldest and largest “free gate” fair in California, which means there is no entry fee. Parking is $5 a day.
The Yolo County Bounty Gala will be Wednesday, the official opening day of the fair. From 6 to 8 p.m., gala goers will be the first to view the agriculture and horticulture exhibits as they enjoy wines and restaurant fare from 50 different vendors. On Wednesday, the fair sells $25 coupons that can be redeemed for wristbands good for unlimited carnival rides from 6 p.m. to midnight. On Thursday and Friday, the coupons can be redeemed for wristbands for unlimited carnival rides from noon to midnight.
Although Wednesday is the official opening day of the fair, catfish and market goat showmanship will take place at the fairgrounds at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Thursday is Senior Day and the fair opens its exhibit buildings to convalescent homes from 9 a.m. to noon before opening to the public. The ninth annual Yolo County Fair Idol Contest, emceed by West Sacramento’s mayor, Christopher Cabaldon, will be held at 7:30 p.m. on the West Stage next to the Rotary Park picnic area. Three contestants will sing their way to a first-place prize of $250, a second-place prize of $100 and a third-place prize of $50. Singers are judged on vocal quality, stage presence, appropriateness of song selection and appearance. The fair website boasts that the contest has attracted more than 1,000 fans in the past.
While the fair has had Yolo County Fair Idol Contests in the past, this year will be the first year the fair offers live pro wrestling. Admission is $15.
Another new addition to the fair is the Ugly Vase Contest. Yolo County residents, Joe Muller and Mark Mezger, suggested the competition and agreed to sponsor the class. Exhibitors create a floral arrangement in the ugliest vase they can find. The first-place entry receives $100, second-receives $75 and third-place receives $50. The fair has more than 30 entries for the arrangement contest, Entry Supervisor Jeannie Malcolm said.
The antique tractors show, which premiered at the fair in 2011, will return this year in the Sunday evening time slot previously occupied by the demolition derby. Last year, antique tractor enthusiasts brought 25 antique farm tractors, 75 antique farm engines and 15 restored antique firetrucks to the fair, said Richard Hunt, the Vice President of Branch 158, a local antique machinery association. On Sunday some big, “tank” antique Caterpillar tractors will be in the main arena.
“One of the tractors is going to start going crazy and crushing cars,” Hunt said. He has been to fairs all his life and likes that this one is free. “It is the oldest free gate fair in California. In other words, to my knowledge, they’ve never charged to get in.”
For more information visit http://yolocountyfair.net/ or call the fair office at (530) 402-2222.