With theme “Peace, Love & Fair,” and lots of Flower Power to go with it, the Sonoma County Fair runs from July 24 through August 10 (closed on Mondays) at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. For details, including discount days and musical acts, visit sonomacountyfair.com. Meanwhile, here are some of this year’s best bets, most of which are free with admission.
20. The Midway: Ring toss, baseball throw, hoop-shooting… Nothing says fair like a Carny’s “Step right up.”
19. Play in the Kid’s Area: Young trainees Blast Off to Outer Space. Next, play a life-sized version of Candy Land or join the Treasure Hunt. Plus, free cake every day.
18. Superhero Day. Is you spider-sense tingling? Kids of all ages get to meet Spiderman on Saturday, August 9. Kids (12 and under) in superhero costume get in free to the Fair. Everyone else in costume gets $2 off general admission.
17. Cooking with Laurie: Learn how to whip up healthy and quick new dishes with celebrity chef Laurie Figone.
16. Exhibitioners: Check out the Exhibit winners in categories ranging from art and photography to crafts and cakes.
15. Outrageous cars and trucks: The Destruction Derby is August 2, and the Monster Trucks attack on August 9-10.
14. Farmer’s Day: Cows to milk, sheep to ride – feel at home on the range, Sunday, July 27, 1-3 p.m. in Chris Beck Arena.
13. Fair munchies: Indulge your guilty pleasures with favorites like corn dogs, curly fries, turkey legs and fresh squeezed lemonade, plus the deep-fried something-or-other. Cool off with a free ice cream cone from Clover Stornetta Farms, served from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
12. Ride on: Carnival rides for little kids, bigger kids, and adrelinie junkies of all ages. (Plus lots of Midway games). Get the best view of the entire Fair atop the Ferris wheel. Wristbands and individual ride tickets can be purchased during Fair.
11. Live music – nearly all day, every day: Performers include Those Were The Days, California Beach Party, Summer of Love, Country Joe McDonald, and Sun Kings, just to name a few. Check the daily schedule for a complete listing.
10. Green: Sonoma County Fair’s award-winning “Greentivities” presents interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities to learn about clean energy and environmental stewardship.
9. Dog Races: On your bark, get set, go! The Fido 500 Races feature the quickest dogs in the region; they’re cute, too. Races daily at 1, 3 and 7 p.m.
8. Tripping on the Magic Bus: With bubbles in the air and a flower in your hair, feel yourself transported to the Summer of Love. Hang loose on the Magic Bus each Sunday between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
7. Water balloon gladiators: If you hear loud opera music as you’re strolling through the Fairgrounds, look for this comic duo to follow…then duck for flying water balloons from the Acrobuffos.
6. See the LOVE: Psychedelic, multicolored lights pulsate on “LOVE,” an installation sculpture that illuminates the evening sky.
5. Every day a parade: Meet at the Showcase Café each day at 4:45pm to pick your part and march along. Plus, join the new night parade on Friday and Saturday evenings.
4. Sea Lion show: Enjoy the antics of these funny, agile creatures of the sea. Shows are Tuesday through Friday at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays at 1:30, 4 and 6 p,m.
3. Back to the barnyard: The heart of a great county fair is the barn. Learn about life on the farm at Sweet Lil’s, pet furry animals, see livestock raised by young farmers, meet the 4H winners, watch the auctioneer in action, guess a cow’s milk output and much more.
2. Thoroughbreds and derby dogs: Sit in on a free horse racing seminar, bet on the ponies, and cheer on your favorite small pup during the Derby Dog Dash, held between the horse races. August 2 is Hat Day at the track.
1. Flower Power: Ten stunning, simply “outta sight,” masterly crafted gardens, each reflecting a favorite 60s song and using the vibrant colors of the psychadelic era.