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Fairgoers have Renewable Fun on first day
The carnival midway at the Stanislaus County Fair was busy Friday night, with barkers calling for fairgoers to test their skills and thrilling rides drawing lines.
The 2009 Stanislaus County Fair kicked off Friday night, and with a new year comes a new theme: Renewable Fun.
But for Alexis Olidae, Monique Rodriguz and Marissa Anguiano of Delhi, standing at the front of the line to be the first to experience the 2009 fair, going green was much less important than having fun. The trio arrived at the gates an hour before opening in an attempt to beat the crowds — and to ride as many rides as possible in an evening.
“It’s all about the rides,” chimed in Ramon Rodriguez of Turlock, standing second place in line.
For Kelly Darpinian of Escalon, however, the fair was all about embroidering. Sitting in the Homemade & Homegrown Hall, the 42-year veteran of the craft stitched away on a “kissing pillow” to send troops abroad as a reminder of parents back home.
Fellow members of the River Valley Stitchers Chapter of The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Inc., were all on hand to demonstrate embroidery to anyone who walked by, offer free lessons, and pass out complimentary mini projects.
Everyone was having fun, to be sure, but was it Renewable Fun? Did these stitchers know the theme of the 2009 Stanislaus County Fair?
“Recycle?” chimed in another embroiderer.
Just across the hall, local dignitaries worked to judge this year’s “Dr. Dubyak’s All-American Apple Pie Contest,” which benefits the United Samaritans Foundation.
“That’s the kind of contest I’d like to be in,” said one passerby as the smell of apple pie wafted through the room.
As the lengthy pie tasting was wrapping up, FoodMaxx and Toscana’s Ristorante began to cook “Mojo Garlic-Orange Shrimp” on the stove behind the tasters. The seafood sensation steadily overpowered even the scent of Meridith Holloway’s winning pie, leading at least one judge to question if he’d picked the right food to taste.
“Are we judging that too?” asked pie judge Jacob McDougal.
Over at the Budweiser Variety Free Stage, seats were steadily filling with Grand Funk Railroad fans that seemed more interested in classic rock than apple pies, including David and Debi Miller of Hickman.
David Hickman considers himself a big fan of the band, having first seen them in 1975. He says “Closer to Home” is probably his favorite Grand Funk Railroad song, and he got to his second-row seats at 6 p.m. to ensure he had a good view for the performance.
But did this music fan know the theme of the fair?
“No,” he said.
“Green?” said Debi Miller. “Go green?”
Right behind the stage cows sat mooing in livestock barns, and beside them stood Breanne Filippini of Gustine. She had competed earlier in the open division showing her Holstein heifers, claiming, “a few blue ribbons,” in the process.
Perhaps this ag-minded citizen would know what the 2009 fair was all about?
“Not really,” she said.” “I’m more of a shower than a fairgoer.”
A few barns away, in the Linhares’ Dairy Show Ring, the tiara and sash-clad District 6 Dairy Princess Erica Mello took a brief break from royal duties to talk about the fair. She said she had a lot of fun in the fair’s first day handing out awards to winners, meeting people, and being a spokeswoman for the dairy industry.
As a figurehead of the fair’s agricultural component, did Mello know about the fair’s theme?
“Renewable fun!” she exclaimed.
Score one for the Dairy Princess.
Of course, the fair has turned a bit greener this year offering more recycling receptacles, free shuttle rides from the California State University, Stanislaus and Pitman High, parking lots to save gasoline, and a Clean and Green Expo featuring local green firms Coventa Energy, Modesto Irrigation District, and Acro Energy.
Anyone who ventures into that Clean and Green Expo is sure to find a swath of people who know all about Renewable Fun, including Martin Purdy with Turlock Irrigation district.
“We’re here to encourage people to save energy,” Purdy said as he handed out compact florescent light bulbs and reusable shopping bags. “And when they save energy, they save money.”
For the children — and adults — who might be a bit harder to reach, there’s Richard Renner and his Recycle Cycle, covered in reclaimed bits of junk that have been crafted into a work of art.
He rides around the fair, spreading the message to reduce, reuse, and recycle — and having a bit of fun while he’s at it.
“I’m just here to cheerlead,” Renner said.
With that, he remotely triggered a water gun on his contraption, soaking two young girls.
“And to be a nuisance,” Renner said with a laugh.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.