I’ve got a lot of random thoughts after the first weekend of the California State Fair, so forgive me if they are a little haphazard.
It appears that the organizers this year had two goals, which I think are both blue ribbon ideas and successes in their implementation:
1) More public participation
2) Be more funny
If you check out the free Official Program included in every Sacramento News and Review (another stellar idea), you’ll see that there are a lot of audience-involved competitions, including the Fair’s Karaoke Championship on 8/30, the Rock Band (as in the video game) Stage, and the State Fair Star talent contest, among more than a dozen others.
You’ll also see more comedy around the park. Funny attractions range from the educational (Sparx Sound Effects Show, one of the many Hollywood-themed attractions) to the wacky (the Traveling Game Show is hysterical) to the just plain weird (check out the creepy singing robot at the SMUD exhibit). And, as usual, Jeremy the Juggler is back, who I think is damn funny and super-talented, calling him a Ã¢â‚¬Å“kidsÃ¢â‚¬Â attraction is a little insulting, in my opinion. Weird Al also made his second appearance in a row, let’s hope he comes back next year. If you weren’t there, you simply have no clue how great his show is.
Now on to the Booze!
The most important note on this subject is the State Fair BrewFest. In the past 10 years, the Commercial Craft Brewing Competition featured a small, insider-only beer festival that was open to the public, but never advertised, so I always kept my mouth shut about it. This year, however, there will be room for more than 1000 beer appreciators at the Miller Grandstand (you know, the track?) on Friday, August 22 at 5:30. Admission is $10. Here is the list of winners.
The selection of microbrews at the premium beer bar just keeps getting better and better, with 4 great IPAs on tap this year. One note, though Ã¢â‚¬â€œ California has enough good beer, and this is the California State Fair, so why are we serving the excellent but foreign beers from Rogue (Oregon), DogFish Head (Delaware) and Leinenkugel (Wisconsin)?? Let’s keep it local, people, and serve the non-California beers at the other booths.
As usual, the Save-Mart wine garden boasts a great selection of red, white and everything in between. My only beef is with the prices, as some premium wines are going for $20 a glass. People like me who know the retail price of these wines are grumbling, but still enjoying the selection.
As for premium liquor, Hussong’s Cantina has a good selection of 100% blue agave tequila, including the full line-up from Don Julio. The real find is at the Red Lion Pub, which has a wide selection of excellent Scotch and whiskey for only $8.
One last note on the boozing: I saw several instances of people being refused service because they already had too much Ã¢â‚¬Å“funÃ¢â‚¬Â, so kudos to the barkeeps for keeping a sharp eye and helping to keep the State Fair (and the drive home) safer.
Wednesday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Natasha Bedingfield, who had the most played song on the radio in 2006, Ã¢â‚¬Å“UnwrittenÃ¢â‚¬Â (which is also on shampoo commercials and is the theme to The Hills). Think Alanis, but less pissed off.
Thursday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Air Supply. I remember their show Ã¢â‚¬Å“Air Supply in HawaiiÃ¢â‚¬Â on HBO back in the early 80’s and was surprised that they have a pretty good band. Expect one or two songs that do not have the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“loveÃ¢â‚¬Â in the title.
Friday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Vanessa Hudgens, star of the High School Musical series and that unfortunate naked photograph supposedly sent to boyfriend/co-star Zac Efron that everyone saw last year.
Saturday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Gary Allan wears a cowboy hat to let you know that he is a country singer, but also has lots of tattoos, to let you know that he is serious about the hat. As far as contemporary mainstream country singers go, he’s not bad, with a sound that leans more towards Bakersfield than Nashville.
Monday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Jessica Simpson, who I think sucks ass. Did you see the Al TV interview with her during the Weird Al Show? Watch it here and here. She has decided that she is talentless enough to be a country star to add to her career as a talentless teeny bopper singer, a talentless actress, and a talentless spokesperson for crappy beer. Whoopie.
Tuesday – SCHEDULE CHANGE – I am editing this to add that the Low Rider Band will not be appearing on Tuesday. Instead, Latino R&B band Tierra will appear.
Stay tuned for more State Fair action!!!!!!!!!!!!