Cowboys, Bengal tigers, divers – you’ll find it all at county fair

#537 in a series of true experiences in real estate
August 2007, Hills Newspapers

It’s summer time, county fair time, and we love going to county fairs. Already this summer we’ve taken half a day a week to attend 4 fairs: Alameda fair in Pleasanton, Solano in Vallejo, Placer in Roseville and Sonoma county in Santa Rosa. Favorite highlights follow.

I’m surprised that we went back to the Sonoma county fair because we didn’t like it much last year, but we hadn’t gotten our fill of fairs yet, it was there, and we were available. Just as we hit the gate and were putting our purses on the platform to be searched (many fairs have everyone go through security), we heard singing. Not the loud and raucous rock band sort of singing that we’ve avoided at various fairs, but this was a cowboy singing “Home on the Range.”

We rushed right over to the children’s corner to see Sourdough Slim and he didn’t disappoint. What fun! This cowboy singer dresses exactly right, I thought. Pointy cowboy boots and tucked into their tops light brown gabardine pants with a sharp crease, shirt and hat.

He plays guitar and harmonica (on one of those no-hands wire supports that holds the harmonica up near his mouth) and the cutest little accordion I’ve ever seen. Sometimes he twirls a rope while he sings and plays and dances a little jig. We loved his voice, we loved the cowboy songs and we especially loved his yodeling. In fact, we went back for his second show, we liked it all so much.

There were tons of people at the Sonoma fair, even on a weekday afternoon, crowds larger than at the other fairs we’ve been to, and yet, it was fine. Plenty of space, a beautiful day, not too hot, no lines longer than 2 or 3 people anywhere we went. At the commercial building we watched the car wax demonstration and the vegetable slicer man but we’ve seen them before. Squeegy Pro is new to us, a window washing pad plus squeegee, the extra included bonus being an extension pole for high windows. It looks like it works quite well, worth a try anyway, so we forked over our $32.

This year Sonoma offered all sorts of horse events: Arabians, a polo match, a cow cutting show, Mustang horsemanship and championship dressage. We saw the dressage show; never done that before; very interesting. As we sat down in the stands, the man sitting next to us said, “You missed the feature, the lead woman was thrown off her horse.” We looked of course right away to see if the woman was all right. She seemed to be; she emceed the show.

We went to the Placer fair because we’d never been before and because my daughter Annabelle is living in Roseville now. She’s been asking if we’d come visit her and see her apartment. Little tiny fair, very few people, not many exhibits of any sort but probably the quilts were the best. Extremely loud, irritating, and seemingly never-ending rock “music” made us and many other people move as far away as possible.

But they had Bengal tigers! Fabulous tigers, seven or eight of them, several of them white tigers, all cared for and shown by trainers who seem to be completely devoted to them and do not teach them to do circus-like tricks. We liked that. It was a hot day. The tigers lay down in the shade of a tree, one draped lengthily along another, the next plopping down on the last, until there was a great beautiful pile of tigers.

Bengal tigers love water, we learned, and they leap when the hose is turned on them and lean into the spray. The cat family, said the announcer, has either a purr or a roar, but not both. These are roarers; they don’t purr. They are huge and they are beautiful.

We returned to Solano county because last year they had some Canadian high divers who were so great, we couldn’t wait to see them again. I emailed to the fair people ahead of time to ask if the divers would be appearing this year. Also, we wanted to know if the frisbee dogs would be back.

The young divers are on the road with their show for the summer appearing primarily at fairs all over the U.S. They dive from different heights into a plastic portable pool that is perhaps 20 feet in diameter and maybe 12 feet deep. It’s pretty impressive.

In the finale, one guy climbs up and up and up until he is 80 feet above the pool, then dives, turning over a couple of times on the way down, into the water. After that, all the kids (their ages, about 15 to 19) come onto the lawn where the audience is sitting to talk and answer questions. Last year I asked the finale diver what his mother thought about him doing the show. He said she wasn’t happy.

The frisbee dogs were at the Alameda fair this year, and they are good. Owned and trained by a man named Rocky and his wife, there are 7 or 8 dogs that they travel with all over the country. A couple of the dogs have won world championships in events that include catching 20 or more frisbees in a minute. Rocky throws another frisbee into the air every few seconds for a minute. The dog runs, leaps, catches the frisbee, immediately drops it, then runs to the next one, catches, releases, etc. While we were watching, in a contest between “the girls and the boys,” the boy dog caught 18 frisbees in a minute but a girl dog caught 20.

Also this year we’ve seen the Clydesdale horses, a professional whistler who expertly whistles to recorded classical music, ate tasty Indian food after seeing it being cooked in a tandori oven. I got a free temporary tattoo on my arm from the Solano library, and we both were given perfectly ripe peaches from farmers market people. Anet loved petting and talking to all the baby animals at 2 petting zoos.

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