Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday at the state fair in Sac-to

That would be Sacramento for my readers outside of California. It's state fair season, which was the primary motivation for the trip. We started out with a primer on the diversity of the golden states' many counties, displayed in county exhibit booths which entertained and occasionally educated. Who knew that Butte County was home to Knudsen's juice company and Lundbergh Farms, the large producer of organic rices? Or that almond production contributes to as much as $85,000,000 of a few counties' GDP? Kudos to Solano County for their inspired, crazily outfitted barn booth and Lake County for having the friendliest exhibit staff of anyone. One piece of constructive criticism for Mendocino County, though: why not mention anything about your top cash crop (it's not grapes, that would be #2). Come on Mendo, that's not keeping it real....

From the county booths we toured the entomological, followed by the agricultural portions of the fair. Highlights included a lush, densely growing group of kiwi trees and an impressive variety of eggplants. Then it was on to the livestock: expecting cows, huge sows with their nursing piglets, sheep, and my favorite, the goats. I would advise against petting or sticking your hands in proximity of their mouths; those chompers look well-developed and goats do love to chew. Just admire them from a distance and move on.

After a quick walk-through of the fine arts pavillion (actually much better than I had expected) we finally made it to the rides and then the food (definitely recommended in that order, rides and then food). Try the fried artichoke hearts, terrific with just a sprinkle of salt and nothing else. Funnel cake (fried dough to some) was crisp, chewy and delicious. Lemon italian ice from a local purveyor (was it called Merino's, perhaps?) was fresh with loads of natural lemon flavor. Very refreshing on a 90+ degree, sunny day.

I definitely would recommend checking out a state fair if you haven't done so in a while. Brave the large crowds for as long as you can and you'll probably walk away having learned a few things. Just don't forget the livestock.

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