Placer County Fair gets cool temps, big crowds

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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More than 26,000 people embraced the “fair” weather this weekend visiting the Placer County Fair in Roseville. “Last year it was about 110 degrees, it was miserable,” said Angela Button, of Lincoln, who was at the fair with her children showing livestock. “Actually, this is nice.” Button’s 6-year-old daughter, Emery, won the livestock costume contest dressed as a lifeguard with her pygmy goat dressed as a swimmer. “We came to the fair as kids,” Button said. “I’ve been coming here for a long time, and now my kids are doing it, which I love.” Fair attendees enjoyed clear skies with moderate temperatures to go along with the many food vendors, thrill rides, games, dirt bikes, monster trucks and other spectacles at the annual event. “You couldn’t have asked for better weather for a fair,” said Karen Spencer, of K.E. Spencer and Company, who does marketing for the Placer County Fair. “Having it in the low 90s, it was warm in the afternoon but it was great in the evening.” Spencer said new attractions to the fair this year were well received with the crowds, including the watermelon-eating and mustache contests. “We had a guy from San Francisco that came over,” Spencer said. “I think his mustache with the little twirls on the end must have been 12-to-14 inches wide. It was huge.” Crowds also got to enjoy a Hollywood stunt show exhibit where professional stunt performers dove, leaped and fell off of a 40-foot tower into an inflated air bag. Those brave enough to give it a try were given instruction and the opportunity to jump off the tower as well. Spencer said the lawnmower races were a hit as were the cooking demonstrations with independent chef Gary Gilligan teaching audiences to make cake lollipops and pop tarts on a stick. “I think the word spread because by Sunday it was standing room only for those shows,” Spencer said. Ryan Ronco, who sits on the board of directors for the Placer County Fair, said he remembers the food being his favorite thing about the fair as a child. Food vendors this year at the Placer County Fair had a little of something for everybody, Ronco said, from traditional fair food such as funnel cakes and polish sausages to bizarre food like maggot burgers and yack sandwiches. “The food vendors here were outrageous,” he said. “We also had a section this year devoted to the history of fairs and how important that is.” Ronco said the Placer County Fair is still an agricultural fair at heart, and that fairs in general throughout the state are in trouble because of a lack of funding. “We used to get a little bit of an allocation out of the funding that came from horse racing,” he said. “Now that has gone to try and help balance the state budget.” Ronco said in order for the Placer County Fair to survive, it has to operate more like a business and the fair board is well poised to do just that. “We want to make sure that we can operate this not on the backs of taxpayers,” Ronco said. “We can be self sufficient and we’re close to being able to do that.” Spencer said community involvement and featuring more Placer County businesses were a key part of the fair’s success this year. “Fairs traditionally are showcases of the community,” she said. “I think getting back to that is something that we’re looking to do.” Celeste Zacarias, 12, of Roseville, knew nothing of the logistics involved with throwing a successful and fun event such as the Placer County Fair. But she did know she liked coming to the fair for the fun rides. “I like the tidal wave, how it goes backwards and then forwards,” she said. Toby Lewis can be reached at