Volunteer Spotlight: Gus Smith

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Gus Smith, another committed Fairplex Ambassador at LACF. After working as a probation officer for 25 years and spending a few years volunteering with other organizations, Gus found his home here at the Los Angeles County Fair.

A perfect fit 

“I fell in love with the Flower & Garden Pavilion,” he said. Botany is one of Gus’ favorite hobbies — and the Flower & Garden Pavilion, with its peaceful atmosphere and variety of flowers and plants is a perfect fit for him.

The Flower & Garden Pavilion at LACF 

“I like seeing guests’ eyes light up when they enter [the Flower & Garden Pavilion],” he said. “I like it when they see things they’ve never seen before.” When FairKids students visit the Fair, Gus guides them through the exhibition, while also making sure the flowers are kept safe from young, energetic hands and feet.

“Kids have a tendency to want to stand on things in the exhibit,” he said. “You just have to politely ask them to stop climbing or touching plants.”

Gus himself enjoys growing and tending to orchids, mixing different seeds together to create uniquely colored specimens. Colors vary from blues to orange and red hues. He is happy to share his knowledge of plant life with visitors, giving them a different perspective to the things they see at the Pavilion.

The ambassador community 

Another volunteer highlight for Gus? The community of ambassadors he works with on a daily basis during LACF.

“The people I work with are super,” he said. “Time really does fly when you enjoy the people you are spending your days with.”

Like Gus, many of the volunteers who work at the Fair enjoy working with the FairKids program and acting as docents of the educational exhibitions each year.

“Volunteering has helped me grow into a stronger person, without a victim attitude.”

When he’s not at the Fair helping with the FairKids Field Trip Program, Gus can be found volunteering at other organizations like the West Covina Senior Citizen Center, spending time with seniors who are unable to be out and about. He also takes kids out to the Redondo Beach Pier, teaching them how to fish through another volunteer program.

“What would I do if I just sat at home?” he asks. “You’re not going to get better by doing nothing. When I wake up in the morning, I’d like to think I’ve done something to help people. That’s what I do. I help people.”

To learn more about the Fairplex Ambassador program, visit our Volunteer Hub.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Julie Crocetti

We’ve said it before and we will gladly say it again: Fair volunteers (Fairplex Ambassadors) are a vital part of LACF’s core. Behind the Fair exhibits and learning experiences are hundreds of volunteers, selflessly giving their time and energy to the FairKids Field Trip program and Fair visitors.

In our new Volunteer Spotlight series we are sharing the experiences of some of our dedicated volunteers. This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Julie Crocetti. 

Joining the Fairplex Ambassador Program 

“I first started volunteering about four years ago. I came to the Fair to buy tickets for a show and saw the Administration building. I decided to walk in and ask about volunteering for the Fair.”

Julie has been a part of our family ever since.

“[Volunteering] gets under your skin, then into the bloodstream and soon you’ll want to keep doing more of it,” she said.

Why volunteer? 

Volunteering allows Julie to enjoy one of her life passions: teaching. Prior to retiring, she worked as a hospice director and enjoyed teaching her employees best practices. After she left her job she found herself asking the question: “now what?”

“That’s when I connected with Fairplex,” she said. “I needed fun and purpose in my life. Volunteering with the Fair fills that need.”

Julie now gets to use her passion for teaching at LACF. She enjoys sharing “hidden” Fair facts with FairKids students, especially information about the Flower & Garden Pavilion, and the wild animals in the Atrium.

Julie comes to LACF each year with the mentality of giving guests their best Fair experience possible. Her favorite part of the Fair Ambassador program? The LACF family. “It’s like a homecoming [every year.] It’s a family. The staff is great too. Everyone is a joy to work with.”

FairKids Field Trip Program 

“Every day at the Fair is an adventure.” 

Volunteering has its fair share of challenges, but Julie loves what she does.

“It’s a worthwhile program to give your time to. We wouldn’t be here year after year if it wasn’t. Every day at the Fair is an adventure, and every year is different and new.”

Not only does Julie bring learning experiences to life for students and teachers, she mentors new volunteers too, and makes sure the whole team gets along. She goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to being a Fair Ambassador. But that’s not how she sees it.

If you told her she was an amazing volunteer, she would shrug her shoulders, smile and say, “I’m just doing what I came here to do: help out.”

To learn more about the Fair Ambassador program, visit the LACF Volunteer page.

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Jessica & Alvaro’s Fair-y Tale Wedding

Jessica & Alvaro are officially the first couple to get married at our new Farm venue! You can read the story of how they met here.

Jessica & Alvaro’s wedding took place on an absolutely gorgeous day at the Fair! A light breeze, fleecy white clouds, a bright blue sky and not a trace of the humidity that pervaded most of September. Perfect weather conditions for an outdoor party.

Our creative team designed a rustic, country-style theme, to match the Farm architecture. Sunflowers, miniature honey jars as party favors, lace and plenty of wooden decor created a romantic, outdoorsy wedding ceremony and reception.

Special thanks to Cucamonga Cakery for providing the adorable teacup cupcakes and wedding cake, and to Carol’s Secret Garden for the beautiful bouquets and flower arrangements! For more information on weddings at Fairplex, please visit www.sheratonfairplex.com.

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Paul & Amy’s Fair-y Tale Wedding

Paul and Amy’s Fair-y Tale Wedding took place on one of the hottest days of the Fair (110 degrees) but that didn’t stop them from getting married!

Their wedding took place inside Luminasia, before the attraction opened to the public.

Paul and Amy met seven years ago at community college. They originally planned to get married in 2011, but when Paul was called back to active military duty in Afghanistan, they had to put their plans on hold. After many other life adventures, they are ready to tie the knot. You can read their full story here.

The couple will be moving to the East Coast soon and wanted to get married with all their family and friends before moving across the country. Everyone had a great time celebrating with Paul and Amy. Congratulations to the happy couple!

A special thank-you to Wisteria Grove for the gorgeous floral arrangements and to Some Crust Bakery for providing the wedding cake and candy treats! For more information on weddings at Fairplex please visit sheratonfairplex.com.

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Fran & Darryl’s Fair-y Tale Wedding

We had a total of four weddings this year at LACF. Each one was uniquely beautiful and it was wonderful to be a part of each one. Today we wanted to share Fran & Darryl’s special day with you. You can read the story of how they met here.

Fran has overcome many obstacles in her life, including a serious car accident that left her without the use of her legs. Since that time, Fran has become totally independent, even driving her own car! It was wonderful to see her so happy at her wedding day.

This wedding was held in the Champagne Court at the Sheraton Fairplex hotel. The citrus theme is a nod to our agricultural roots as well as a preview of the expanding Farm on the other side of the campus.

A special thank you to Cucamonga Cakery for providing the elegant wedding cake and other treats, and to Carol’s Secret Garden for the lovely floral arrangements! All photos were taken my LoveMade Photography.

We can’t wait to share our other two weddings with you very soon! For more information on Fairplex as a wedding venue, please visit sheratonfairplex.com.

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Italian chef visits The Farm at LACF

Chef Antonio Cagnolo from Italian restaurant Antonello’s in South Coast Plaza visited The Farm during this year’s LACF. He selected a handful of vegetables grown at our Farm and whipped up several delicious Italian dishes using our Farm Kitchen facilities.

Chef Antonio used several of the unique crops we grow here, including UFO squash and peppermint Swisschard. Other unique fruits and vegetables we offer include the Japanese wax melons and bird peppers (one of the hottest peppers in the world.)

Watch the video to see how each dish turned out!

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Wrapping up LACF 2014

Another Fair season has come and gone. It seems like only yesterday that we were beginning our adventures at LACF!

We loved seeing all your #discoverLACF posts on social media, from carnival ride thrills to deep-fried food ventures, and meeting new animals to exploring new exhibits, it looks like all of you had a blast!

Here are our top five favorite memories from this year’s LACF:

1. Luminasia

Luminasia was a completely new experience for us at LACF. In fact, this was only the second time Luminasia has ever been in the United States, period. We will never forget the feeling we had when we saw the lanterns light up the hillsides for the first time. It was a truly one-of-a-kind experience!

2. The Farm 

If you visited the Fair this year, you would have seen the new Farm expansion:

It was nice to escape from the hustle and bustle of the carnival and shopping halls and enjoy the peace and quiet at The Farm. With dozens of specialty crops, gorgeous skies and the sound of pig races in the background, The Farm felt like a world away from the other parts of LACF. The flatbreads at the new Farm Kitchen were one of our favorite things to eat at this year’s Fair!

3. Mojo’s Wild & Crazy Lagoon 

Mojo moved her crew down to the Lagoon this year and set up shop on Monkey Island. It was fun to see the wallaby, lemurs, zebras, camels, porcupines, Lily the Spider Monkey and Mojo herself playing all day at the Fair!

4. Zorses and zonkeys 

Farm animals are a staple of the Fair and this year was no different. Alongside the pigs, cows, sheep, goats and chickens were zorses and zonkeys! Our resident cowboy Sky Shivers introduced thousands of guests to these cute fellas:

We made sure to say hello to them as often as we possibly could.

5. Grinding Gears 

After a long day of parades, shopping, petting animals and other Fair activities, it felt nice to unwind at Grinding Gears. Whether it was watching The Steam Punkers play live, dancing with the crowd to the Gizmologist’s sick beats, or being wowed by the antics of the iFlip crew, there was non-stop entertainment all night long. And it never got old!

Those were our top picks for this year’s Fair, but everyone has their own personal favorites at the Fair. Share your favorite LACF moments in the comments section below!

Thank you for a great Fair season!

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Last Chance to #discoverLACF

With only one day left to visit LACF, I decided it was time to go on the grounds and talk to some guests about their top four things to do while at the Fair— also known as LACF’s Fantastic Four. Ready to have some fun? I hope so, because we are about to go over some of fair-comers’ all-time favorite things to enjoy.

4. The Farm: Our farm was recently expanded to 5 acres, which means we have a lot more things for you to enjoy! In addition to petting over 150 animals and learning how ice cream and butter are made, you could cheer pigs as they race to the finish line, learn about Zonkeys and Zorses, or catch a live birth. I’m not lying about the live births…just watch this!

3. Flower & Garden Pavilion: Can you think of anything at LACF that smells better than our Flower & Garden Pavilion? Didn’t think so. This year’s flowers and plants are absolutely breathtaking and unique. See for yourself.

2. Shopping: LACF is home to the largest shopping place in the West, hosting more than 1,000 booth spaces and offering tens of thousands of items. No wonder more than 75 percent of Fair attendees come to shop while at LACF. From everyday home appliances to automobiles and spas, we have it all.

1. Luminasia and Mojo’s Lagoon: This brand new and unique Chinese lantern exhibit features thousands of lights in an extraordinary display of engineering and larger than life characters. As you walk through the exhibit you will see dragons, pagodas, coral reefs, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and so much more! If you need something to do before Luminasia opens its doors at 6 p.m., you could very well stop by Mojo’s Wild and Crazy Lagoon. Some of the exotic animals you will see include but are not limited to crocodiles, camels, zebras, hedgehogs, monkeys and snakes. Definitely worth the time and seeing your child smile.

Remember to use #discoverLACF when you stop by the Fair in the next few hours or tomorrow. Happy last two days!

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Food Friday at LACF

Over the last few weeks we brought to you the wonders of Luminasia, the magic of World of Wonders, the beauty of our Flower & Garden Pavilion, and now, we are taking the time to show you some of the delicious foods you could eat before the wrap up of this year’s Fair.

LACF Food Adventures

In case you haven’t heard, we have more than 200 food stands and every possible type of food you could imagine. From deep-fried, bacon-wrapped zucchinis and Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburgers, to gluten-free foods and anything on a stick, we have what your heart aches for.

Although I promised myself that I would not have Chicken Charlie’s juicy Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger, I broke my promise today. The temptation was too great and I finally just gave in.

Here are a few pictures of some of our all-time favorite Fair foods.

FAIR WARNING: We are not responsible for mouth watering or the irresistible need to drop everything you are doing to come to the Fair!

Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger

Chicken Charlie's Pineapple Express

Deep Fried Oreos

After seeing these foods, are you sure you don’t want to come to the Fair? You have three days to make up your mind, so choose wisely! As for me, I think its time for dinner. Bon appétit.

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A Trip Through Esmeralda’s Circus + Giveaway [CONTEST CLOSED]

There are all kinds of adventures waiting at Esmeralda’s Traveling Circus! You could easily spend a whole afternoon here, watching the antics of The Conjurer, checking out the world’s largest (and smallest) horses and seeing all the fun shows! Here are some of the things we saw on our visit:

Venardos Circus

Venardos Circus is new to LACF this year. Ringmaster Kevin leads his talented troupe of performers in a show full of singing, dancing, fire breathing and aerial acrobatics.

GoPro POV of the Aerial Arts Circus Show 


If you hear pop music and the cheering of the crowd, it probably means the Aerial Arts Circus Show has begun.

Trapeze artists perform amazing feats as they fearlessly flip, leap and spin in the air for a captivated crowd.

If you feel so inclined you can even try doing the trapeze yourself! Harness up and let the experts show you how to swing on the trapeze. Previous experience not required :)

Mango and Dango, favorites from Fairs past, also put on shows, pulling antics like dancing silly tangos, balancing on towers of chairs and pulling the audiences (quite literally) into the show! Other acts include This End Up and the Circus School. 

And if that wasn’t enough adventure for a day… did you know you can also ride camels at Esmeralda’s?

We want all our fans to experience the fun at Esmeralda’s Traveling Circus and the rest of LACF which is why we are doing another blog giveaway!

Esmeralda’s Giveaway

*Four LACF admission tickets
*Four RCS ride wristbands
*1 giant stuffed donut

To enter to win, leave a comment on this blog post telling us why you want to attend the Fair this year! Winner announced today on this blog at 5:30 p.m. PST. Good luck!

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We have a winner! Congratulations to Wendy Munoz for being selected as today’s blog giveaway winner. Wendy says: “My family & I would love to go to the fair this year, we haven’t been yet and who doesn’t love a circus show? My kids would be thrilled!”

Thank you to everyone who played! Make sure you like/follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for our final giveaways for the year!

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