Monday, April 13, 2009

Clark County Fair

The Clark County Fair was open for the past few days, B wanted to go but too many things got in the way and we did not get to go. We went last year, and my photos from then are still hanging around unposted, so here you go, our trip to the fair.

The CCF is held each year in the beautiful metropolis of Logandale, Nevada, which is about an hour drive north of Vegas. Coming from New Jersey my only prior experience with county fairs was with the San Diego fair, held each year just before the fourth of July. That one is so large that it runs for six weeks, is held at the Del Mar race track grounds and brings in hundreds of thousands of people each weekend. There are so many animals entered that they do different ones each week. The animals filled up five of six big buildings close to the main entrance, so you got to walk through them as you came in. First week might be bunnies, next week chickens, next week pigs and so on. So you either pick they animal you want to see or you go back a few times so that you can see a variety. It’s not a little fair - there might be several thousand bunnies entered for example, so it can take a while to look at all the big ones and small ones and fuzzy ones and long eared ones and . . . .

The Del Mar racetrack has lots of stables for the horses along with other ones built just for the fair. There was one huge building put up just for the garden displays, with several attached to the grandstands for the non animal displays, concerts were at night viewed from the seats where you normally watched horse races, and there was a big section on the infield in the middle of the race track. We were UC Master Gardeners down in SD, and would volunteer to staff the information booth and answer gardening questions. We usually did that for four or five days scattered over the six weeks, and would take breaks and wander around. There were several buildings, each bigger than a football field, which held wood crafts and art stuff and other things that we could spend a long time in. There were dozens of handmade quilts, a woodworking group gave demonstrations in how to build things, metal projects, cars repaired by high school shops; all kinds of stuff. And of course the standard fair food, which consisted mainly of almost anything you could fry. Never tried the deep fried Twinkies or Milky Way bars though.

But the Clark County Fair is probably more like the small rural fairs held across the country; they usually get 60,000 people to attend over the four days. Logandale is a small Mormon farming community that has been around for a long time. To get there we head north on 15, passing through some of the typical Nevada landscape.

There were some pretty red rocks along the way

Then the exit off the freeway, through a lovely green valley and into the fairgrounds. We went on a Saturday last year, and the line to get into the parking lot started about halfway up the freeway off ramp. That’s why there are no pictures of that segment: it was five miles of bumper to bumper traffic, over an hour for us to get from the ramp into a parking space. Logandale looked like a pretty little town, but I was more concerned with the poor driving ahead of me than taking pictures of it. B did take one of some horse farms along the way. Nice green grass out here

Pulling into the dirt field where we parked we could see the tops of the midway rides. There was a big bungee slingshot thingie that stuck up really high, with people already being shot into the air.

I’m more into the mechanical stuff behind things, and liked looking at how this ride worked more than wanting to sit in that little seat and be tossed around high in the air. But there were more civilized rides there, including a big Ferris wheel.

B likes looking at the animals. She raised some in her younger days, and still enjoys looking at them. There was a much smaller selection than in San Diego. Instead of eight hundred prize roosters in SD there were probably a dozen here. One building was filled with pens with lambs and goats and other smaller animals, a second building had the cows and pigs and bigger things.

One temporary building held small booths with stuff for sale: candy and signs and gimmicks and cookware. There were demonstrations, and from the number of people interested it seemed that the citizens of Logandale don’t usually get down to the big city to see things. I went for the fudge in the next booth over.

There were the required little food booths outside. We hit it on a warm sunny day (yes, unusual for Neveda) and most people were underneath the shade cloth with their food. This being a large Mormon farming area there were lots of families with lots of kids, many of which had their 4-H animals entered into the competitions. Most of these families brought along a basket of food, being rather expensive to buy fair food for a dozen it was better to stuff the brood with homemade things and perhaps just let them get ice cream or individual treats. Down in SD I used to love the grilled corn, and would wait for the fair just to satisfy my created cravings for it, that is before the price went up over two bucks an ear and I quickly learned that I could survive without.

There was an area out front with green grass where people sat under the trees, and there was a display of old farm machines. Steam powered pumps and one cylinder diesel corn cob grinders and stuff like that. There was a club, and museum, down in SD for people that liked to tinker, where all the machinery had to be at least fifty years old, with most of it far older. It was interesting to wander by and listen to the thump-thump-thump of old engines still grinding away.

One of the temporary buildings contained the baking contest entries, all of those cakes and cookies and pies created in kitchens all over the valley. I remember an old Andy Griffith episode where Aunt Bea was making stuff for the fair, I think it was pickles in that show, cake in another. It looked like there were a lot of winners.

Back on the ride midway there was this interesting booth, where you could get your photo taken while riding a bull in front of the rodeo crowd.

I thought this was one of the more interesting rides. It was a little tent with four of these full motion simulators. You strapped yourself into the seat and put on a helmet with video goggles and headphones and suddenly were riding a motorcycle or space buggy or whatever you wanted. There were pistons that bumped you up and back and forth and spun you around, I get car sick easily and almost lost my expensive lunch just watching these guys bounce around.

You can see from the pictures that the fairgrounds were out in the middle of nowhere. Well, most things in Nevada are so why should this be any different? There were nice grassy areas, but most of it was plain dry dirt. The fair is held in April to hopefully get the transition Spring weather and comfortable conditions, but it still was in the high 80’s for us last year, yesterday was pretty nice and probably provided a comfortable time, but Saturday there were thunderstorms blowing through coupled with wind, so it might have been a little different for visitors. Ah well, we’ll try for next year.

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