It's summer in Sacramento, and the California State Fair is happening now. You may have seen the TV commercials showing the mascots dancing and singing and advertising special discounts on items like spas and furniture. And the local news shows have sent anchors to the fair grounds to experience the sights and sample the food.

People have different reasons for attending the fair. Some like the vendor exhibits, some like the county exhibits. A lot of young people only go for the carnival rides and games. Most people like to sample the food. You might think all food is your standard fried everything, but we are the America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital and there is plenty of delicious food available.   On our visit, we enjoyed tacos, corn dogs, stuffed baked potatoes, and fresh squeezed lemonade.

There are concerts at night with some famous headliners like Macy Gray, Joan Jett and Bret Michaels I also have a friend who only goes to the Fair for the horseracing. There is something for everyone. That may sound trite but it is true. There are cooking demonstrations, wine and beer tasting, exhibits of food and farming, and much more.

You may want to come early to beat the heat, but you also want to stay late for the fireworks! There are lots of decisions to make, but of course there is an on-line tool to help you plan your visit.

Some people forget that the original purpose of many state fairs was to showcase the 4H animals and host baking competitions. There is still an old fashioned fair feeling to the event. When you wander through the buildings to see the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, you realize how many categories of competition there are. Woodworking, metal, textile, and dozens of food categories. Our own Hometown Tourist, Cindy Gibbs has frequently entered the baking contest and usually wins a ribbon, and we get to taste her submissions!

We attended the Monday after opening day.  We had a great time.  Among other things, we:

  • Had our picture taken by the Golden Bear
  • Rode the monorail to get a good overview of the Fair
  • Bought peaches from the Farm Stand for our morning snack
  • Visited the insect, aquaculture, and hydroponics exhibits
  • Gazed at the equine occupants of the stalls surrounding the Arena
  • Shopped at the Vendors’ buildings and purchased some unique and useful items
  • Talked to California Authors and purchased autographed books
  • Recognized at the Sacramento Museums exhibit many places we had visited as Hometown Tourists
  • Viewed the Counties’ exhibits, California crafts and fine arts, the jelly-bean Mona Lisa
  • Listened to a harmonious country music quartet sing “Cool, Clear, Water”
  • Saw motorcycles fly through the air upside-down

Despite the 100+ degree heat, we enjoyed our day.  The key is to stay hydrated, view outdoor exhibits early, and go into an air-conditioned building whenever you feel “too hot”.  Maybe you go to the California State Fair every year.  Maybe you haven’t been in 5 years.  Either way, this year is a good year to head over to Cal Expo for the California State Fair.