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June 21, 2011 > County Fair time!

County Fair time!

By Mauricio Segura

The smell of corn dogs and funnel cakes, children screaming with excitement over echoing merry-go-round music, and the thunderous roar of galloping horses can mean just one thing: It's fair time!

For the 99th consecutive year, the Alameda County Fair will open its doors at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds from June 22 through July 10. There is so much to see and do during those two weeks that it is nearly impossible to cover it all. "Living just a mile away from the fair, I am able to go at least four times during its two-week run each year. And let me tell you, it never gets boring," says retired airline mechanic Jeff McDonald. "You can go every day and see something different each time. The food is amazing, some of which you won't be able to find anywhere else than at the fair. The concerts are the highlight for me. A few years ago, Charo plucked me out of the audience and had me dance with her. I was Coochi-cooching all the way home! My entire family looks forward to the fair each year. It's the best."

Carnival rides are always a main attraction for children and adults alike. Whether it's roller coaster excitement or a relaxing turn on the Ferris Wheel, there is a ride to satisfy everyone's adventure level. And don't forget the funhouse and midway games - no fair could be complete without them. Carole from Modesto reminisced, "A boy from my science class took me to the fair for our first date. He played a game where you have to toss rings and have them wrap around soda bottles. We were there for a long time, and he must have spent around $3 in nickels to finally win me a stuffed teddy bear. That was in 1961. The bear is long gone, but Paul and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary in October."

Artists of all ages can enter drawings, paintings, photographs, and crafts to be judged for prizes, and have them displayed for everyone to see. Additionally, the Alameda County Fair hosts food cook-offs, eating competitions, and a golf putting contest where the winner can walk away with $10,000!

Many would agree with McDonald in calling the concert series the highlight of the fair. Huge names in the music and comedic world come each year to entertain in an intimate 3,000 seat amphitheater. Concerts are free with paid entrance and seating is general. Some of the big acts coming this year are Charlie Daniels Band (June 23), Tower of Power (June 25), Roy Clark (June 30), and Survivor (July 8). The lineup is sure to satisfy every musical taste.

Then there is food, food, and more food. Fairs are synonymous with food, and if you haven't been in a while, you're in for a surprise. Yes, there will still be corn dogs, funnel cakes, and cotton candy, but how about a fried Twinky or Snickers bar? In fact, if it can be fried, you'll most likely be able to find it for sale. For health conscious folk, kabobs, roasted and BBQ meats and vegetables will be available as well.

Kids and adults will love the petting zoo... chickens, ducks, goats, and everything in between will be around to pet and enjoy. Stick around for the live old time auction, and maybe you can go back home with a new pet in tow.

Speaking of animals, who doesn't like to watch a horse race? The Alameda County Fair is famous for its races held at the one mile historic track built in the late 1800s. Create or decorate a hat during the opening weekend and wear it to the track to win cash prices. If galloping horses aren't enticing enough, perhaps racing pigs and dogs would suit.

With clowns, magicians, hypnotists, talent shows, fireworks, gift vendors, so many things in every corner, it might be wise not to blink. There will even be a chance to witness a potential world breaking record on July 2 as the largest cheeseburger in the world will be cooked up, weighing an estimated 625 pounds! The bun itself will weigh in at over 100 pounds, with an additional 50 pounds of cheese, 20 pounds of onions, 12 pounds of pickles, and 30 pounds of lettuce. This monster will be the equivalent of 2,500 quarter pounders! It will take ten hours to cook, and a crane to flip it over! Ninety-nine cents will buy a taste, with all proceeds going to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

And these events are just the tip of the iceberg! The Alameda County Fair is clearly the place to be for summer fun and excitement. So, do yourself a favor and drive to Pleasanton. The fair is calling!

Alameda County Fair
June 22 - July 10
11 a.m. - 10 p.m. (Mon, Wed, Thu)
10 a.m. - 10 p.m. (Fri. - Sun.)
10 a.m. - 9 p.m. (July 4)
Alameda County Fairgrounds
4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton
(925) 426-7600

Admission: $10 ages 13 - 61; $6 ages 6 - 12; children under 6 free
Parking: $8 general; $15 preferred; $20 VIP
Carnival rides: $25 unlimited wristband (Mon - Fri), $28 unlimited wristband (Sat and Sun)
Pre-purchase tickets online for a discount

Festival Square Activities:
June 23 and July 8 Battle of the Local Bands Contest: Teens Rock!
June 25 - 26 Spice of India Weekend
June 30 - July 4 Amateur Rib and Chicken Cook-Off
July 1 - 4 Made in Americana Music Weekend
July 2 3rd Annual Gumbo Contest
July 9 - 10 Fiesta Hispana

June 22 Papa Doo Run Run
June 23 Charlie Daniels Band
June 24 Foghat
June 25 Tower of Power
June 26 Blue Oyster Cult
June 27 Tenth Avenue North
June 28 closed
June 29 Abbacadabra
June 30 Roy Clark
July 1 Ozomatli
July 2 Evolution
July 3 ConFunkShun
July 4 Blues Festival
July 5 closed
July 6 We The Kings
July 7 Sanctus Real
July 8 Survivor
July 9 The Whispers
July 10 Tracy Lawrence

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