By Joanna Parsons
– Got post-garlic festival blues? Do you crave a little country
entertainment? Then this is the weekend to go off your diet, put on
your dancing shoes, break out the ice skates and hang with the
By Joanna Parsons
San Jose – Got post-garlic festival blues? Do you crave a little country entertainment? Then this is the weekend to go off your diet, put on your dancing shoes, break out the ice skates and hang with the swine.
This year’s Santa Clara County Fair, themed “Green Beans, Pork ‘n’ Beans and Jelly Beans,” will include an ice skating rink – in the middle of summer – as one of its latest feature attractions. It isn’t real ice, but it looks and moves like it, and is suitable for hockey and ice skating.
“It’s a plastic floor, but serves as an ice rink,” said Art Troyer, fairgrounds executive director, who anticipates a turnout of about 85,000 to this year’s three-day fair.
But the county fair wouldn’t be a fair without the livestock. Gilroy, Morgan Hill and Hollister students involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America spent Tuesday afternoon preparing for the pre-judge competition just before the fair. Last year’s junior livestock winners included Erica Bianchi, of Adams 4-H, for 4-H novice beef showmanship, and Jennifer Doubrava, 4-H San Martin, for market lambs 4-H champion division. This year, ribbons await to crown new winners.
However, raising livestock, though fun and rewarding, isn’t easy.
“It takes a lot of work,” said Jiana Escobar of the Adams 4-H and FFA Gilroy chapters. “To do well, you have to be dedicated.”
Tiffany Gordon, who is showcasing her 145-pound pig, Freckles, said the hardest part is keeping the pigs away from other swine in the arena.
“Some of them get into pretty bad fights,” said Gordon, a Live Oak High School student and FFA Morgan Hill member. She explained the dominance of some pigs over others as a reason for fighting. “It’s pretty brutal.”
The students involved in the 4-H and FFA clubs are a driving force behind the fair. Troyer said there is not as much involvement in these agriculture programs among youth in the urban areas.
“The Equestrian aspect of those areas are still very strong,” Troyer said. “But you’re not going to find kids in Cupertino raising hogs.”
The fair has also seen a decrease in attendance over the years. Once a big event in the Santa Clara Valley, the fair stretched 18 days and attracted about 400,000 visitors 30 years ago. Over time, attendance has dropped off due in part to the increase in alternative forms of family entertainment and the loss of agricultural interest in the urban areas. Last year’s fair attendance reached 85,000, a low number compared to the attendance of 106,044 in 2001 and 90,000 in 2003.
“There’s just so many things for people to spend their money on for competition,” Troyer said. “But there’s still a core group of people in the county who enjoy coming out. We do get a big crowd on Saturday and Sunday.”
Mean while, the 4-H and FFA youth enjoy showcasing their livestock.
“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Live Oak High School student, Crystal Roma, also a member of FFA Morgan Hill. “It feels like forever, but you’re only in there three minutes.”
And families and children enjoying visiting the animal exhibits and the petty zoo.
“The kids that do come through, seem to get a kick out of goats and calves and sheep,” Troyer said. “For a lot of kids, it’s the first time they’ve been exposed to that sort of thing.”
County officials have discussed possibilities of moving the animal exhibit portion of the fair – or the entire fair – to South County. Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage said he is looking into a temporary location, and then a permanent location to house the annual event, and that he could have something lined up by next year.
“This is something good for the kids,” Gage said. “It gives them an opportunity to show off their animals. It’s good for the kids, and plus it’s a healthy thing.”
When: Open Aug. 5 through 7, 11am to 7pm, with the carnival extended to 9pm all three days.
Where: at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, located at 344 Tully Road, San Jose.
Info:Admission is free and parking is $8 per vehicle. T
For more information, call 94-3100 or visit the official Web site at www.thefair.org.