The 86th annual Los Angeles County Fair began with a ribbon cutting ceremony near the north entrance. Ceremony participants included Stephen C. Morgan, president of the University of La Verne and chairman of the Los Angeles County Fair; Pomona City Council member Elliot Rothman; Congresswomen Hilda Solis from the 36th district; Congresswomen Grace Napolitano from the 38th district; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; and Pomona City Council members Daniel Rodriguez and Steve Banales.
If there is one love locals and tourists have a guilty pleasure for, it is the return of the largest annual county fair in the nation.
The Los Angeles County Fair returned on Sept. 8 to the Fairplex in Pomona with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cutting the ribbon to kick off the 18-day festival.
Enthusiastic die-hards and first-time fairgoers alike waited in anticipation at the gate as the line to enter the 2006 fair became longer instead of shorter.
But if this welcoming display was indicative of anything, it was that the festivities in store would be as multifaceted and unending as the fairgoers themselves.
Once inside the fair the first decision any fairgoer had to make was which direction to go because there was something for everyone.
Fairplex Buildings 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 made up the Shopping Palace, where no request was too extreme as numerous vendors from all over the world enticed shoppers with their sales pitches.
For Emel Siha who sold imported items from Egypt like baby oils, the generous traffic of shoppers was not the only reason he set up shop at the fair.
“We also want people to know about Egypt,” Siha said.
Other products ranged from household necessities such as stain-resistant tablecloths and shiny pots to luxury items like speedboats and Tiger Woods collectible sports cards.
Some vendors embraced political, educational and religious themes.
The Los Angeles County Democratic Party accepted donations while the Los Angeles Police Historical Society showcased classic police vehicles.
One Christian booth raised fairgoers’ curiosity with the clever headline, “See 3 Things God Has Never Seen.”
“There’s about 40 little booths in every building,” said Fairplex employee James Smith.
The attractions outside evoked an even bigger maze.
Some guests found adventure at Heritage Square where the Gold Rush exhibit allowed fairgoers to pan for gold and look at antique mining equipment.
Animal lovers turned to the Fairview Farms to find creatures such as Asian water buffalos, fiber sheep, lionhead rabbits and snakes.
Gamblers who craved a juicy game tested their luck at the Grandstand, where $2 was the minimum bet on a live horse race.
Next to the arena, the Culinary Styles exhibit allowed fairgoers to see winners of the cake competition and watch chefs perform live cooking.
The ski-lifts at the carnival took fairgoers from Park Square, where the children’s rides were located, to the Palms Marketplace, where more vendors sold things like fedoras with feathers.
The view from above included webs of rides such as the Ferris Wheel, bumper cars and the bungee jump.
The faint at heart found escape at the Home and Gardens Pavilion where flowers and plants from around the globe were housed in the Moroccan-themed exhibit.
Fairgoers relaxed in the Arabian-nights world that was enhanced by sights of exotic rainbow curtains, marbled fountains and camel statues.
Other attractions at the fair included live concerts, wine tasting, parades and various county competitions. The only limit was the sky, as the night ended with a decoration of fireworks.
“It’s a family tradition,” said 19-year-old Katie Anderson, who has been attending the fair since she was a child. “ The thing I look for the most is the airbrush shirts and the jewelry.”
But regardless of which direction fairgoers took, they could not escape extensions of food booths that stretched on like the horizon.
There were traditional fair staples like churros, hot dogs and cold beer to more diverse varieties such as tequila-lime chicken, shrimp sticks and gourmet coffee.
Plenty of fun could be found at the fair and, for that matter, so could safety enforcement.
There were first aid stations located throughout the grounds, a lost children’s center that assisted parents, and the Pomona Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department were on 24-hour duty.
The Los Angeles County Fair has entertained families for more than 83 years and had a 1.3 million-average attendance over the last five years according to its official website. The tradition continues until the festival’s last day on Oct. 1.
As fairgoers exited the gate after their long trip, one more surprise lied ahead: There was still a line at the gate entrance.
Len Ly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.