California travel

California State Fair: FUN that Moves You!

Nothing says “State Fair” like the smell of hay and fresh manure …

Unless it’s the sound of carnies trying to entice you to take a ride …

Or the promise of deep-fried … anything!

And, of course, if you’re in Sacramento in July, and the temperature consistently hovers around 100 degrees, it must be time for the California State Fair!

(Lego Bear, built by fine artist Nathan Sawaya; 40,000 pieces, took 80 hours to construct. Previously displayed at the California State Fair in 2007)

I have lived in Sacramento since 1988, and have attended the State Fair nearly every year since moving here. It’s one of the highlights of my summer.

While many people go for the food or the rides, my favorite fair activities include visiting the Livestock Pavilion and Nursery,

admiring the quilts

and the Fine Arts,

(“Cupcakes” by Robyn Slakey)

watching hypnotist Suzy Haner and other shows at the Expo Center,

and visiting the Floriculture exhibit — which included some colorful and exotic birds this year!

When my children were younger, we would often team up with another single-parent family and attend the Fair together. The kids would head for the Magical Midway rides, the parents would visit the County Exhibits, the Shopper’s Expo, and the Wine Garden!

Similarly, Carrieanna and her parents would visit the Fair annually “from gates-open to gates-closed.” Their Fair experience was a little different from mine in that they included a day pass to the Raging Waters water park, taking time throughout the day to swim, enjoy the water features and cool off, and then returning to the Fair exhibits.

In recent years, however, Carrieanna has been unable to attend the State Fair.

Although the grounds are accessible

and have many convenient restrooms – often an important consideration for wheelchair users – the hot Sacramento weather keeps Carrieanna from attending, as heat exacerbates the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

Instead, she “visits” the Fair vicariously through my photos.

So here we go ….

In The Farm area, the aisles are wide — but not shaded — and the plants are often huge!

This sunflower has some seeds missing — snacking birds, perhaps?

Visitors to the Farm were offered a refreshing slice of watermelon. Yum!

Next door is the Forest Center, with a cool path leading to an information center where visitors are offered a redwood seedling.

I was aware of many wheelchair users throughout the day. This woman, Sherry, lost her foot and parts of her fingers due to a disease. She told me that when she gets her prosthesis, she plans to do volunteer work to show amputees that life goes on. (I admire her spirit, and I wish her much success.)

I first noticed the Floriculture area and the Birds in Paradise exhibit from above. Naturally, I had to get a closer look at the birds, including these two colorful macaws!

Although I skipped the Shopper’s Expo, I did spend a few minutes in the Counties Exhibit and, in particular, enjoyed watching “Spirit,”

a bald eagle who lost part of her wing and, therefore, is unable to fly. Spirit is part of the “Wet ‘n’ Wild California” exhibit created by two state agencies (the Dept. of Water Resources and the Fish and Game Dept.) to educate the public about native animals and how water impacts their habitats.

I then headed over to the Exposition Center, where I especially enjoyed watching the grace and balance of The Stilt Circus

as well as the stroll down memory lane in Toytopia 2.0

Building with Lincoln Logs (fun for all ages!)

Cabbage Patch Doll, My Pretty Pony, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“turtles on a half shell; turtle power!”)

And larger-than-life Transformers!

I enjoyed watching the dance and tumbling exhibition on Center Stage – especially since a friend’s daughter was one of the cartwheeling participants!

And then my tired feet informed me it was time to go home.

Another fun year at the California State Fair!

(“FUN That Moves You” is the Fair’s theme this year.)

By Jeri Murphy

Traveler, writer, photographer, former wedding officiant, mother, friend, explorer and new Texian ... that's just a little about me!

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