The first show on Thursday, the fair’s opening day, began with a demonstration of the unbreakability of the shark tank to reassure the audience. David Farrell of Concord, a week short of 5 years old, was chosen from the audience to tap on the glass. The tank, of course, sprung a fake leak, surprising and soaking Farrell as he tried to plug it with his hands, and spraying some in the audience before the water was turned off.
“He was certainly surprised. He thought he was doing something wrong for a second,” said his father Robert. “I really just thought it was adorable; they handled it well. He will never forget it for his entire life.”
The Farrells were among hundreds who took advantage of the fair’s free admission before 3 p.m. on opening day. They spent a lot of time in the Kids Zone building, which offered youngsters hands-on things to do – similar to San Francisco’s Exploratorium.
Another popular hands-on area was the livestock barn, where human kids petted goat kids and other animals. Two of those human kids were Oakleyites Samantha Rogers, 6, and her 4-year-old sister Savannah. It’s an annual event for the Rogers family. “They just have a blast every time,” said the girls’ father Steve, who was joined by his wife Raquel.
The animal exhibit was made possible by 4-H members such as Randy Carasis of Knightsen, who was participating in his third County Fair and showing off several sheep for breeding stock and sale. “I love it,” he said. “It’s just fun getting together, seeing all of your old friends from other groups and the showmanship and everything. It’s just a lot of fun.”
While the fair is a one-day event for fairgoers, for exhibitors like Bob Tannenbaum – who operated two booths, one selling custom-fitted toe rings, and the other providing computerized palm readings – it’s a way of life. He describes himself as “64 going on 35” and owns a home in Las Vegas, but most of his life is spent on the road traveling from fair to fair throughout the West.
“There’s a world out there, and I don’t want to experience it on a 27-inch screen,” he said. “I do sightseeing in between shows and I enjoy the people. People come to the fair to have fun. I have a wonderful life; I love the travel. Too bad I don’t make any money, but it’s a fun life.”
For more photos and a video from this year’s Fair, click here to visit the multimedia page.