David Cook gives The Fair what it needs

David Cook, in a photo that has been approved by his corporate overlords
David Cook, in a photo that has been approved for publication by his corporate overlords
Friday’s opening of the State Fair was capped with an appearance from American Idol David Cook. This was, without question, one of the funnest musical moments I have witnessed at The Fair in years.

Why? RELEVANCE! Most bands that play The Fair are either blasts from the past or up and comers. Cook is NOW, baby. The vibe from the audience was amazing as Fairgoers had the rare privilege to see someone playing Cal Expo whom they are listening to, today. And, as icing on the cake, he and his band met expectations and rocked the house.
Continue reading “David Cook gives The Fair what it needs”

Your State Fair Dining Guide-Part 1

deepfriedwhitecastle1-225x300One of the best things about the state fair is the deep fried edible glory that accompanies it.  It’s like junk food Christmas. However, there are so many options throughout Cal Expo that you’re just as likely to waste those precious calories that you’ve been hoarding all summer on just average junk instead of on incredible junk.  Hopefully this little list will help you from stepping into a grease and candy filled pothole with your dining choices.

Best Meal: BBQ Beef sandwich at “Buns on the Run” – Still the best food seller at the fair, this little trailer on the east side of the park, just across from the petting zoo with the word “Sausage” emblazoned on it’s sign doles out the best meal on the grounds. The bbq beef is sweet and succulent, the roll is incredible, a deep fried masterpiece of dough science, and the homemade potato chips on the side are just awesome. Also, this place does a damn fine boneless rib sandwich.

Best Deep Fried Delicacy: Deep Fried Oreos at Chicken Charlie’s– Charlie’s has been setting the standard in deep fried audaciousness for years now. I was a huge fan of the fried Elvis — a battered and fried peanut butter and banana sandwich — but it was taken off the men after the piping hot pb sent 158 people to the local burn unit. Now, I go for the Oreos with chocolate sauce. The small cookies have a great filling to breading ratio and they manage to stay fairly crispy inside the batter shell. However, if you’re really daring and haven’t eaten this year , try the deep fried White Castle Hamburger.

Best Sweet Treat: Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls– Two stands, one located in the county exhibit building, the other on the east side of the consumer pavilion (aka crap hut) , dole out some of the best cinnamon rolls in the world. The syrupy white frosting and tender cinnamon ladened dough is on par with the finest Austrian pastry. It’s only improved by asking for extra “gunk,” which is the cinnamon, sugar and butter on the bottom of the pan scraped up and sprinkled on top of your roll. Continue reading “Your State Fair Dining Guide-Part 1”

CA State Fair -Open!!

Long time readers of The Rag know that we are big fans of the Big Fun. As you read this, the 2009 California State Fair is open for business! Check us out for tips and reviews over the next couple of weeks.

Why do we love the State Fair? It is difficult to succinctly say, but it has something to do with loving California. The fair is a great place to learn about the myriad reasons that make California the greatest place in the world to live. Check out the agriculture, the art, wine, the thrills, and the spirit of fun that permeates Cal Expo for the next few weeks. It is especially obvious if you have been a patron at other fairs around the country. Every fair has rides and shows, but we’ve got bits and pieces of California wrapped up in a microcosm.

This year’s theme is Weird, Wild and Wacky, which I hope the organizers have taken to heart. Amid a down economy, a dysfunctional government and a dry summer, we need some fun here in Sacramento. Let’s party.

This Friday, the fair features American Idol David Cook on the Golden One Stage. For those of you that scoff at the contest, you have not seen that Cook is a soulful rock musician with a good band, decent songwriting and a strong possibility at a (gasp) legitimate music career. I’ll be there to see how he does.

Free Michael Jackson Rides on Fridays!

…and the winner for “most awkward press release title” goes to the California State Fair with their announcement that their Magnificent Midway will feature 4 rides from Neverland. The first 5,000 fairgoers each Friday will receive a golden ticket for one free Michael Jackson ride.

Stay tuned for our annual coverage of all the Big Fun!

No Mermaids Need Apply

mermaid barI know I made light of the mermaids thing but the larger issue is the proposed $8.6 million city subsidy for the building of the complex. As you might expect, there is a petition out there in opposition to the subsidy. Neighboring businesses argue the subsidy would “bankrupt” their businesses. The Midtown Business Association has collected some documents about the proposal (they call the proposed new bar with swimming girls a “mermaid bar,” which is confusing — if it was truly a bar for mermaids, that wouldn’t necessarily cut into the bottom line for neighboring businesses catering to “normals.”)

Based on the developer’s proposal it sounds like the mermaid bar/mermaid-themed bar is going to be punningly titled “DIVE BAR” and the “adult pizza” (??) joint is to be called “PIZZA ROCK.”

State Fair – Closing Weekend!

Ah, how time flies. This year, the California State Fair had a shorter run than in past years, so we’ve had to pack in our allotment of free concerts, fried food and big fun into only two weeks. As usual, the Fair closes after Labor Day, so make the most of the weekend if you are in town!

There are a few more attractions that I wanted to point out in case you have not had a chance to catch them.

Arial plants a wet one on TracyThe Sea Lion Encounter gives you the chance to play with, take a photo with, and get kissed by a California Sea Lion. All proceeds are for charity, so go take the rare opportunity to smell a little fishy, but in a good way. This exhibit is next to the track, where thoroughbred racing continues all weekend.

The Stars of the Peking Acrobats show is just damn cool. Don’t miss their breathtaking stunts.

Continue reading “State Fair – Closing Weekend!”

Corporate Carnies

It appears to the casual observer that the carnies at this year’s State Fair are a little cleaner than in past years. To the sharp-eyed snark hound, however, it is an obvious sea change in the modern carnival solutions industry.

That’s right. The midway has gone corporate.

All games, rides, and straight-toothed carnies are now provided for the California State Fair by the Ray Cammack Shows corporation or RCS. Take a look around the midway and you’ll see the RCS logo emblazoned on every skee-ball, pop-a-shot, and shoot-the-water-in-the-clown’s-mouth game. Continue reading “Corporate Carnies”

Stickie’s Report on Big Fun – Part 1

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 “kids” 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!
Continue reading “Stickie’s Report on Big Fun – Part 1”

Enjoying the Fair for Less

Spend less dough getting into the fair so you have more to spend on the fried dough inside! Here are some ways that the State Fair folks are saving you money this year:

Today is Tuesday, so that means all children 12 and younger get in for free, and those carnival rides will cost you just $1 each today.I LOVE POPPY This applies to next Tuesday, too.

Today, August 19th, is First Responders Day, so all First Responders (in our out of uniform) with proper identification gain free admission. (OK, so I have a First Responder card from my CPR/AED/First Aid/Bloodborne Pathogens certification — would that get me in? They mean firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, and the like, right?) Continue reading “Enjoying the Fair for Less”

AVOID Elk Grove

With the Fair underway, the Sacramento Bee reminds us that there will be a sobriety checkpoint in Elk Grove tonight. Wait, the Fair is in Sacramento, right? Where lots of folks will be drinking? Ok, cool, Elk Grove it is.

The enforcement is part of the statewide “Avoid” campaign funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Interesting slogan. At any rate, if you follow the link on the Bee story (oh, wait, it’s broken, posted on the 13th, too) you will learn more about the program.

The overall goal of the awareness campaign is to let drivers know about the countywide increased enforcement periods and warn drivers that the only way to “AVOID” the county’s law enforcement officers is to drive sober.

Ah, there it is. I get it now. A press release reminds us that party hosts and families must limit drinks to their guests, and to not serve more than one or two over several hours. Stickie, can you hear me?

Be safe out there.