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California State Fair a 'melting pot'

Updated on June 26, 2008

'Big fun' in Sacramento


"It's the granddaddy of all fairs in California," says Norb Bartosik, who is entering his 15th year as CEO of the California State Fair. The fair, which runs from August 15th to September 1st, is currently in its 155th year of operation, and celebrates its 40th anniversary at Cal Expo in Sacramento.

"The fair this year is an 18-day extravaganza that celebrates the life of the people of California in an entertaining, educational, fun way," says Bartosik. And of course, the CEO would like to remind visitors that agriculture still plays a large part in the fair's offerings. "It's a way for urban people to learn more about our agricultural heritage here. As I like to joke, you need to show city people that chocolate milk doesn't come from brown cows."

Along with those cows, visitors can view approximately 5,000 other animals at the fair, covering "everything in the barnyard" according to Bartosik. In addition to livestock displays, the fair will host a California Building representing the products produced by 40 of California's counties. "It's kind of a walking tour of California through the counties' eyes," says Bartosik.

Besides the exhibits, the fair will highlight several kinds of entertainment and every type of "food on a stick" a fair-goer could want. "We've got the Chinese acrobats coming from mainland China, a feature exhibit by CSI, a tribute to Hollywood, a high-dive show, classic and novelty car shows, a motorcycle show, and an animal presentation called ‘Fur and Feathers,' which this year will have an urban twist titled ‘Cats, Bats, and Rats."

Rounding out the fair will be equestrian events, a sea lion show, a "green dream" exhibit related to environmental education, thoroughbred racing which returns to the fair after a three-year hiatus, and a 100-year anniversary celebration of the University of California at Davis.

Bartosik predicts that close to one million people from all over the region and beyond will walk through the gates of the fair this year. "Our visitors and exhibitors are from all backgrounds. That makes the California State Fair a real ‘melting pot' of different kinds of events, exhibits, entertainment and people."

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