Summer Fun: The California State Fair

by Wendy Copley on July 20, 2015

Last weekend Wyatt, Augie and I went to Sacramento for the California State Fair. My husband has been traveling a bunch this month for work (and for a friend’s birthday party) and we were feeling a little home-bound, so on Friday night I booked a not-too-expensive-but-still-nice hotel near the Cal Expo (the place the fair is held). We drove up from the east bay Saturday afternoon and had time for a long swim in the hotel pool and dinner before turning in early for our big day ahead.

WARNING: many photos of kids having fun ahead!

California State Fair 2015

Sunday morning we were up bright and early! We grabbed a quick breakfast in the hotel lobby, checked out and rolled into the fairgrounds at 10:07, right as it opened. I bought our tickets online the day before, so we breezed right through the lines (though they didn’t really look too bad) and walked right into the fair. The first thing Augie spotted was one of the big golden bears that are scattered throughout the fairgrounds. He saw other kids posing on it for pictures and wanted to do it too, but once he was on top of it he hated it and wanted right off — hence the scowl.

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Wyatt spotted a giant slide first thing and begged to go on it. You can probably figure out that if Augie was nervous on the bear he is not so into heights and/or thrills so he decided to sit this one out.

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One of our early stops was Camp Smokey. We stopped at five different stations teaching fire safety lessons and the kids got a stamp on a passport at each one. When they were done, they collected a prize (a cool Smokey the Bear bandana) and then Augie wanted to climb on the fire truck.

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Next stop: the baby animal barn! The boys tried milking a fake cow.

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Then we walked around looking at several new born calves and goats. Sooooo cute! We were bummed that there were no piglets though because they are the cutest of all.

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When we first entered the barn, we got little containers of cream to shake so we could make our own butter. We all shook and shook them while we looked at the animals and watched videos of babies being born and by the time we left we had some butter.

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After a few rides, it was time for lunch. I wanted some crazy fair food and I found it in this slice of deep-fried watermelon! If you are wondering, it was pretty tasty. The batter was very light and the heat from the frier intensified the watermelon taste. I would recommend it! (Though I would have been happier if they’d left the really sweet red sauce off of it.)

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By this time we were pretty hot, so we headed over to the exhibit halls. I thought the boys might find them a little boring, but they LOOVED them. Our first stop was the Minds in Motion area where the kids played with electrical circuits, and giant chess pieces and covered each other in bubbles. (Augie got a big “oooooooh!” from the crowd when he pulled this one off.)

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Next we hit Tech Trek which was all about the intersection of science fiction and the real science it has inspired. They loved posing with a Terminator statue and running a Jurassic Park dinosaur egg turner in particular but we spent a long time exploring almost everything in this room.

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As we were crossing the courtyard to the crafts exhibit, the show on the center stage caught our eye so we sat down to watch Cirque Zuma Zuma, a seriously cool acrobatics show. My parkour-loving boys were excited to see some really advanced skills in action like this guy who did handstands on a stack of four chairs.

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My favorite thing of all the things at the State Fair is the exhibit of prize-winning crafts. Before we went in, I told the kids that I knew it wasn’t their cup of tea, but I asked them to please be patient while I looked because it was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to the fair. It turned out I didn’t need to say anything because they loved it! They asked me to take photos of fairy gardens for their grandma, and tugged at my sleeve to show me the exquisite wood-working projects. When we got to this vignette Wyatt said, “Uh oh! I think that baby’s in trouble!” Ha!

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Look at my cute lemon boys!

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As we were walking to the Farm area, Wyatt spotted these cool water sphere thingies and wanted to go in one. The boys had each brought some allowance money with them, plus I gave them each $5 to spend on something that I was not willing to fund. (Augie chose to spend his money on carnival games, which…ugh!) Wyatt decided to spend $8 on this. He didn’t regret it for a single second though and had a blast.

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Next we wandered around the Farm, another of my favorite spots. This was another spot with a passport to stamp and the kids dutifully visited pepper patches and grapevines to fill their card and win a prize. They were not particularly happy with their goodie bags when they received them though. Wyatt was particularly annoyed to find a handful of healthy recipes and a Cookie Monster magnet and the fresh apple just added insult to injury for my braces-wearing kid. They really enjoyed the insect pavilion though and they spent a good 15 minutes petting these huge farm-raised sturgeon. (They’re slimy, if you’re wondering.)

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We had time for one last ride before we left — the incredibly photogenic swings!

Do you go to the fair in the summer?

California State Fair 2015

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