In 2012 the California State Fair welcomed 693,034 visitors to the fair over an 18 day period. In 2013 the fair ran from July 12 through 28 with a 17 day fun-filled attendance of 697,045 people.* This figure makes 2013 the top ranking year in the past five years as recession struggles have slowly subsided and more people returned to the fair. This is 6.5% increase in attendance with the highest attended days being Tuesday, July 23 with over 70,000 guests, Saturday, July 27 with over 80,000 guests making it one of the top ten attended days in the past ten years, and Sunday, July 28 with over 70,000 guests.
The State Fair has a 160 year history of celebrating the joys of California through industries, agriculture, culture, livestock, crafts and other regional and local skills that have long been valued by Californians and people the world over. Exhibits, competitions, rides and games have evolved but the joy remains the same as children’s eyes glow with excitement and adults embrace spine tingling rides or place bets on the horses that gallop down the track.
Fair food continues to attract patrons year after year with the traditional favorites of roasted corn, popcorn, cotton candy, lemonade, and corn dogs.. As the years passed, more elaborate foods have risen to the forefront with deep friend specialties like fried Twinkies, candy and burgers. Unusual creations like Stuffie’s Krispy Kreme donut burgers, hotdog sundaes, and spaghetti ice cream have raised eyebrows and tantalized tongues.
During the 2013 fair, Cardinali’s sold an estimated 4,500 spaghetti ice creams and 11,000 pounds of deep-fried watermelon. Around the corner The Bacon Habit drew bacon-lover crowds to try their extensive bacon wrapped and topped wonders like bacon cheesecake, chocolate bacon, beer-battered fried bacon, pork-a-bellas made with bacon, mushrooms and ample savory flavors, and bacon wrapped hotdogs, turkey legs and more.
The seasonal food vendors, Amber and Nathan Vandewarker, participate in only three fairs each year and then return to teaching high school math and driving a propane truck while California State Fair visitors look forward to the return of The Bacon Habit and other tasty favorites like Terry’s BBQ that offered the Big Rib with 4,000 devoured this year. The big selling Big Rib is a 24 ounce slab of seasoned, slow cooked 17″ beef rib. And, Big Bear BBQ had approximately 9,000 of their Giant Turkey Legs gobbled down with fair loving gusto. Food vendors were busy day and night while fairgoers reached out for that flavor they savor at the fair.
Over at the Miller Lite Grandstand, $1,051,769 was paid out in prize money purses to the winners amongst the 422 Thoroughbreds, 32 Mules, 24 Quarter Horses and 24 Arabians competing in 72 races. Crowds cheered and groaned. Betters won and lost. Horse lovers eyeballed the strutting beauties as they pranced out before each race and then watched their furious, racing strides to the finish line.
The fair worked hard to keep the crowds coming in and happy once inside the fairgrounds. Demonstrations, daily live concerts at various stages, baby livestock, strolling entertainment with stilt walkers and jugglers kept the celebration at peek for 18 days in July. And during all this “Food, Family and Fun,” the official California State Fair Farm produced and donated 2,924 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables for the California Emergency Foodlink. These donations will continue as The Farm foods ripen and are harvested.
Competition entries were at a peek with State Fair Wine Competition entries at 2,625 and a huge increase of Beer Competition entries with 640 different brews. And while all these exhibits, foods, and shows entertained the 697,045 2013 visitors, 60,000 rolls of toilet paper were unwound. Please see the accompanying slideshow. And, if you enjoyed this article, please click “like” and share it with your friends. Thank you!
*2013 figures are subject to adjustment based on final offsite sales counts.