We got a big break on the weather this year: warm but not too hot — perfect. As Monday rolled around the skies were cloudy and gray. What a bummer it would have been to have to cover up all those cute and carefully put together fair outfits with jackets. As usual the young girls all looked like beautiful flowers even if most of them were wearing black. All the young boys looked like flower lovers which is how nature intended it. The stroller brigade was out in force and the babies were just as adorable as they always are. What other occasion gives new parents the chance to show off their new children to everyone all in one spot? As a people-watching destination the Fair cannot be beat.
The request from this local paper was for a story highlighting what was new at the Fair. This kind of misses the point entirely as most of us love the Fair for its predictability. Time for our corndog, time to visit the Hall of Flowers, time to study the art in the Home Arts building, time for the parade, etc. In this case familiarity breeds not contempt but affection. We love to compare one year to another: Was attendance up? How much beer did the Lion’s Club sell? How many burgers did the Fire Department flip? Were the tomatoes in the burgers better this year? (Yes! thank you, Brock Farms). Did the Hall of Flowers look beautiful? (Yes! Thank you Palma, Francy and all who submitted entries.) And so it goes.
The Sheep Dog Trials were overwhelmingly popular with every seat filled. I guess that interspecies communication is of interest to those who live in Mendocino County. The Rodeo Crowd was roaring with such high spirits on Saturday night it seemed the grandstand roof might blow off. Dean Titus and the Coyote Cowboys (and Girls) band did a great job of following up the rodeo. They have a fan club that just won’t quit. The Los Cautivos & Los Elegantes DTC band gave the people something to feel joyful about Sunday Night. There were those who jumped, those who jiggled, those who swayed and those who watched and wished they were jumping, jiggling or swaying.
Watching the animal judging is a full body experience. You can see them, you can hear them and you can smell them. It is a very comforting experience. Most of us don’t spend much time around farm animals while our ancestors depended upon them. There is something deep inside us that likes to be around animals.
Palma Toohey reports that AV won the football game 49-0 against Laytonville and that the game was a success in more ways than one. The cheerleaders having gone to cheerleading camp upped their game with a dance routine that wowed the crowd. There was a tribute to the first Apple Bowl Football game, which happened in 1974 with black and white jerseys worn on the field this year as they were way back then. Boonville beat Mendocino in 1974 too. Congratulations to the 2023 Panthers. Thanks coach Toohey for your eleven years of solid coaching.
The Wool and Fiber Fair is smaller than it used to be but the sheep shearing, spinning demonstrations, vendors and fleece sale march valiantly on. The Home and Fine Arts Building looked great thanks to Brenda Hodges and her team. The work on display was awesome. A special salute to Ellen Fontaine and her sister who womaned the fort practically around the clock to keep the exhibits safe. A big draw was a Lego display of a World War 2 battle, a home schooling history project by a member of the Colfax family. This laid out battle scene seemed to rivet every young boy (and older men) who passed by. Photos were of high quality. My favorite by Kevin Joe was a picture of a sea creature called a “Hermissend Nudibranch” (a very fancy sea slug) that seemed to glow with electric colors.
Helen Papke got a first with a trio of jackets made in her distinctive one-of-a-kind style. Rowan Newcomber scored with her totemic bird doll. Kathy Borst’s animal baby quilt was especially charming and Yvette LaPaille and Patti Wilsons quilts were absolutely stunning.
In the Agriculture Building the Gowans Family apple pie booth was an oasis of calm. The pie was delicious and the $2 coffee was a lifesaver. The Bates and Gowans provided free tastes of many varieties of apples. The Grange had a big display, as always in the spirit. Future Farmers had a good-looking display and many others took a great deal of time and trouble to build elaborate displays for our looking pleasure. Scare Crows were pretty hilarious with one “mooning” us in honor of the harvest moon theme of the Fair.
No Fair report would be complete without a mention of the carnival rides and midway. The light show that came off of the attractions is beautiful and unparalleled. Now that they can program the lights with computers it truly is mind boggling to watch the candy colored flashing patterns. This of course is just a backdrop for the main event which is all the kids running over, under, around and through everything in their path. One ride called the “Freak Out” with its giant swinging arms created a music of syncopated screaming that you really had to love. Energy level in the “ride” area was high… very, very high. Topping the creepiness chart was the hospital looking piercing parlor where for $40 you could get your body pierced. They had an amazing array of things you could buy to put in the holes once you were pierced. Fascinating.
I know I missed a lot in this report but I gave it my best shot. Thank you so much to all who make the Fair happen. Jim and Gina, our hats are off to you and your crew. You make it possible for so many people to have such a good time. It is a gift, it really is. See you at the Fair next year. It will be number 100!