Cheap Thrills at the 2014 California State Fair

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The California State Fair is only minutes from our home, so we try not to miss it.  We start by buying a ticket package from our local COSTCO, which covers parking, two admission tickets and a $10 voucher towards food and drink.  By planning in advance, we won’t have to stand in line.  Since our national economy is still unstable, why would we want to waste money by forgetting to use our goodies?  By purchasing this package in advance, we have made a commitment to attend the fair at least once during its annual run.

When it comes to the attending the fair, we don’t decide what to do until we get there.  We’ve been going to the California State Fair for years.  In fact, in the 60s, I went to the fair when its location was on Broadway.  I know.  I’m dating myself, but why should I care?  I don’t have any problems when it comes to aging gracefully.

Usually, Mister Jack goes to the California Lottery exhibit for the Scratchers.  Mister Jack is not a hardcore gambler, so I patiently wait while he stands in line to buy the tickets, scratch off the tickets to reveal the numbers and cash in his winning tickets.  This exhibit always has a crowd because if you buy enough tickets, you get to spin the wheel to “win” more Scratchers.  Am I confusing you?  Good!  So I pick a place to sit, zone out, watch people for entertainment, and work on my tan while he goes through this California Lottery ritual.  When the money is tight, the lines for the lottery tickets and the Scratchers are very long.  This year, I got smart and brought sunscreen and bottled water.  Luckily, we didn’t attend the fair during the fire or the time it hit the triple digits.  The show must go on, but not for us.  We would have been miserable in those situations.

We decided on getting a noodle and rice plate with an egg roll on a stick.  See the sweet and sour sauce on the egg roll?  Of course, you don’t.  It happens to be a clear sauce.  If you can believe that.  As long as I can order a corn dog at the California State Fair, everything is all right with me.  We had corn dogs for dinner.  If you really want to know, I wanted the funnel cake.  I wanted it stacked with ooey, gooey strawberry filling.  Topped with about six inches of whipped cream.


My biggest fantasy would be getting to any state fair in the U.S. and plopping my butt down on some deserted table with every sample of grease or sugary dish that was available for human consumption.  Who needs to look at exhibits?  Who needs the rides?  Why would I want to go to a live concert by some famous singer or group or when I can sit down and listen to their music in my home or in my car?  Let’s get real.  There’s nothing like being fat and happy in California.

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And yet another thing!  Me and Mister Jack have kids–the furry kind that don’t talk back or get into your retirement money by way of extras like braces, college, weddings, grandchildren, etc.  This sign is a myth.  If you buy the “wisdom” on this blue ribbon, I have a sinking house in the swamps of Crescent City, California that I can sell you.  I know a spoiled, entitled brat when I see one because it takes one to know one.

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We don’t like rides.  We don’t win stuffed toys.  But we love, love, love the animals.   Check out the pink hooves on the pony.

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The only best behaved kids are the furry ones.  We don’t believe in bringing our dogs out in this heat.  Or any public place where people are eating, drinking or purchasing food.

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The Brewer’s Festival featured award-winning beers from the California State Fair Commercial Craft Brew competition.  Since it was held near the racetrack, participants were able to view the horse racing while sipping samples of micro-brew from a 5-ounce souvenir mug.  Award-winning Track 7 Brewing is a local favorite–as well as a favorite with the judges.  I sat in the shade with my complimentary Coke.  And got eaten up by bugs.

We made our usual rounds at the urban gardening exhibit because we are always looking for ideas when it comes to our 1/4 acre of suburbia.  I also make sure we hit the building displaying the county exhibits.  If a California county has travel brochures and publications, I’ll pick them up for my research.  I love to travel.  Although we are both native Californians, we will never know everything about our beautiful state.  But who says we can’t try?  Travel is the best way to see the world.

What???  You’ve never been to California?  Come on down because we’d love to have you!  I was born in Sacramento and raised in the Sacramento River Delta.  Let this farm girl give you two links to get you started:


  1. marlenebertrand · July 26, 2014

    I didn’t go to the fair this year. Actually, I haven’t been to the fair in a very long time, so your post was a lot of fun to read. I have a question about the pony. Why are the hooves pink? Is that their natural color, or did someone paint them that way? I have to admit that I go to the fair for the food, too. I don’t know why, but one thing I had on my bucket list was to eat a large turkey leg. I don’t know what that is all about. Maybe from watching a lot of gladiator movies. I’d see them eating huge turkey legs and thought that would be fun to do. One year I had a turkey leg at a fair. It wasn’t huge, so it didn’t quite fulfill the dream. Thank you for sharing your trip to the fair. I hope I get to go next year. I like the idea of purchasing the tickets early. that way, I’ll force myself to go and have fun.

    • Arlene Poma · July 26, 2014

      Marlene, looking back, the “old” state fair was a lot more fun. A lot of people are turned off by Cal Expo because you have to walk, walk, walk. I mean, I have a disability that retired me, so I’m very sensitive about the needs of people who use canes, wheelchairs, scooters, etc. Sure, we were there from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day because it was a “good” day and enjoyed ourselves. Probably 98 degrees at the most? But the valley heat makes you very tired when you stay in it too long. Anyway, although we stopped here and there or disappeared into the indoor areas with air conditioning, we both passed out when we got home. I mean, we both slept well, but you’re talking about two people with flat feet. I did okay, but anytime you have flat feet and walk or run, you’re bound to feel pain in your knees, hips, back, etc. You’re walking on cement most of the time. Depending on where you are, there’s stairs, asphalt, dirt, etc. Next year, I may just get a pass for the 17-day run and take my time. We didn’t catch a concert this year because the acts we wanted to see were scheduled during the week. Also, you don’t see everything in one day. I completely missed the buildings that housed things like handmade furniture and quilts. Missed the food demonstrations. That was a major disappointment because I happen to be a recipe junkie. Of course, there’s plenty of shopping, but I’m not a consumer. The kind that needs retail therapy. Plus, you know those vendors are gonna to charge for their products as well as how much they’re gonna pay for their stalls. As for the turkey legs? I’ve seen people devouring them at concerts! Turkey legs and chicken legs are not favorites of mine. When I was a kid, my father used to barbecue turkey tails. He used to steal turkey tails off the Thanksgiving turkey. Or anytime anyone had a turkey on the table because anytime was the right time to have a turkey tail. Thanks to Daddy, I am still wearing those turkey tails because they are nothing but fat! The turkey legs do look good, but I had relatives who used to raise turkeys in Southern California. Their turkey legs always seemed dry to me. And all that cartilage mixed in there. But if you do try one, let me know. Remember to wear good walking shoes and a hat. Bring bottled water and plenty of sunscreen. The only thing that kept us from picking at each other was the fact that we drank more than enough water. And we stopped to eat when either one of us was hungry. It doesn’t matter. We always have a good time–wherever we go.

      • Arlene Poma · July 26, 2014

        Whoops!!! About those pink hooves. Hmmmmmm. I think the little girl or boy who owned the pony got a little bored at the fair. Or maybe the kid had a sick sense of humor like me? Who knows? I love horses. At the arena, anyone was allowed to “meet and greet” horses and their owners. We didn’t stay for the shows or the competitions. I usually walk along the stalls and look at the horses. It was just too hot. I had bought tickets for the Brewer’s Festival, so we had to give ourselves time to walk to the racetrack.

  2. ChgoJohn · July 27, 2014

    I’ve not been to a county of state fair in ages — and that’s a shame. There’s so much to see even if, like you, Arlene, I’m not a ride or stuffed animal person. It’s a fun day where I unashamedly fill myself with foods I won’t eat anywhere else. Now that’s a very good day!

    • Arlene Poma · July 28, 2014

      John, I have finally come to a point in my life where I “behave” myself during the week when it comes to food and plenty of exercise so I don’t feel guilty about stuffing my face on the weekends. This is why I believe everyone should learn how to cook. It is basic survival. If you rely on processed food, junk food or spend all your money on restaurants, you are missing out on saving money as well as good health because as the home cook, you know what’s in your meals. It’s all about being happy and healthy. When it comes to travel, I will freely try the food because I don’t know if I’ll be back. It’s not the same when you go home and try to imitate the recipe!

  3. dedy oktavianus pardede · August 1, 2014

    wow, what a fun adventure,
    the turkey leg and corndog must be delicious!!!ps: what kind of blossom you hold on the photograph???

    • Arlene Poma · August 1, 2014

      Dedy, life is one big adventure!!! As for the blossom? My husband, Mister Jack, is a huge fan of California-based craft beer. Brand names like Sierra Nevada (Chico), Track 7 (Sacramento), Lagunitas (Petaluma), etc. I don’t drink, but I love the designs and the packaging. I’ve been the designated driver since I could drive. Anyway, those are his fingers showing hops. Without hops, you can’t have beer. So if hops disappeared from the world, my husband would have to rely on coffee and Pepsi. I go to the fair to enjoy myself. It’s all about the food. I think you already figured me out. Thanks for the comment!

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