It’s State Fair time again and as always one of my favorite things to see are the county exhibits. I’ve come up with my own personal and unofficial “awards” to some deserving (or not so deserving) entries that have caught my attention in the past. This year I had an assignment to go to the fair a day before it opened so several of the 27 county displays were not yet finished, but for me, there were still some that stood out. So here are the picks for my third annual unofficial State Fair county awards:
The Mr. Big Stuff award:
Like a lot of the other counties, the Solano County exhibit features an assortment of fruit and veggies, but whereas the other displays have real produce within the normal size range, Solano County goes big. Although they’re fake representations of the county’s crops, what they lack in realness, they make up for it in size. Pears and apricots are at least 10 times their normal size. A cartoony chicken, twice the size of a normal one sits on the roof of what looks to be a roadside fruit stand. The letters that spell out SOLANO on the building are about 3-feet tall. Nearly everything about the display is big. Strangely enough, the cartoonish cows and California golden bears are smaller than real life.
The creepy-guy-in-the-window Award:
Mono County’s display is a life-size representation of the ghost town and state park of Bodie. In the window of a rustic building’s front door is a cut out of a man in an apron, perhaps a store owner. His color, an eerie yellow, is perhaps meant to be a sepia tone to denote an old-fashionness, but combined with an uncanny stare just comes across as slasher-movie creepy.
The Carmen Sandiego Award:
Sacramento County’s exhibit features the tagline: “Where in the world is Sacramento? How could you not know where the state capitol is? But since the fair is in Sacramento in Sacramento County, wouldn’t it stand to reason that fairgoers already know where it is?
The you-couldn’t-come-up-with-anything-else? Award:
The main subject of the Humbolt County’s relatively small display is the mythical creature Bigfoot. According to the Humboldt Farm Bureau’s web site, the county’s biggest industry is logging producing more than $170 million in timber. Nursery products and milk are also significant crops. California’s Redwood Coast web site touts the Redwoods National Forest, Old Town Eureka and Morris Graves Museum of Art as some of Humboldt County’s tourist attractions. Not once does either site mention anything about Bigfoot.
The toned-down-from-last-year Award:
Last year San Joaquin County’s display featured a protest from area farmers over Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal for a new peripheral canal. Unhappy with the though of precious Delta water used to irrigate crops in the Central Valley being sent down south, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau put a prominent terminator-like robot with glowing red eyes reaching out a cold, steely hand to literally rock the county as a centerpiece of the display (It won my “Most Politically Overt” award last year).
This year the threat of moving water to the south still exists as does the farm bureau’s opposition, but it’s not as prominent on the 2010 San Joaquin County display. Upon initial examination the exhibit looks to be a fair-to-middlin’ effort. Well executed, but not much to distinguish it from any of the other counties. Like those other counties’ efforts it shows the different types of crops and products that we produce. On the back in an area about 3 feet by 4 feet is a small desert scene with a sun-bleached bovine skull in the sand representing a cautionary tale of what the county would look like if our water were to be diverted southward. There are also several placards scattered about the display that talk about the water issue from the bureau’s perspective. However, it’s just all just small portion of the whole display almost buried in the back that one might miss it if they weren’t looking for it.
Famed negotiator Herb Coen once said the secret to deal-making was to: “Care. Really, really care. Just not that much.” Maybe that’s what the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau is going for.
Click here to see my 2008 list and here for the 2009 list.