I’ve Been Working on the Railroad…

“Oh, listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar, As she glides along the woodland, o’er the hills and by the shore, Hear the rush of the mighty engine, Hear that lonesome hobo’s call, He’s riding through the jungles, On the Wabash Cannonball.”

I don’t know why I think of the chorus from Wabash Cannonball every time I pass by the Fairplex Garden Railroad, but I do. Maybe it’s because of the romantic thought I have of railroads and trains, pushing and steaming against a sunburst sky, hobos with their knapsacks slung o’r their shoulders, rolling into the next town where new adventures await.

You can feel this along several neighborhoods of our Garden Railroad. If you’ve never toured the railroad during the Fair, you must do it this year.

It’s an amazing array of quaint scenes from the turn of the century to a 1950s drive-in to a circus in Anytown USA. The depth, quality and intricacy of these G-gauge trains, 10,000 feet of track and picturesque settings are astonishing.

Behind it are 72 volunteers of all ages who put in thousands of hours each year. The FGRR is open on certain occasions during the year, but it really shines during the Fair. The “crew” maintains the railroad all year long, but go into full-throttle mode in July and August, when engines and cars are washed and polished, hardscaping is refurbished, landscaping is tended, new miniature structures are installed.

Dave Rose’s handiwork has been part of the FGRR since 1997. An avid miniature train model builder since the early 1970s, Dave releases his creativity on a particular section of the garden railroad, having “built-out” his own back yard’s G-gauge railroad.

On a warm day in June, he glued finely ground granite onto several levels of hardscape and cliffs above a set of tracks. A contractor, he uses his professional expertise in those areas, while his imagination explodes on projects like the new miniature restaurant he designed, constructed and painted.

It will rest over a cliff, just beyond a suspension bridge, giving “patrons” a fine dining experience. Dave puts in about 80 volunteer hours a month, more in August when he takes nearly the entire month off work to concentrate on his hobby, in preparation for the thousands of Fairguests young and old who will meander through this little piece of heaven.

A 1998 study by Brigham Young University found the FGRR to be the oldest and possibly largest miniature railroad of its kind. Begun in 1924, the railroad moved to its current location in 1935. It was switched from a 1/2 scale model to a G-gauge in 1997. According to coordinator Bob Toohey, visitors come from as far as Australia and Germany to see the railroad. During the Fair, 32 different operations run at once, frrom trains to highways to mining sites.

Like I said, pretty amazing. Stop by during the Fair. Inside tours are available from 1 to 8 p.m. each day of the Fair.

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The Lean, Mean Street Team Machine

Hello to all you faithful Hot Blog on a Stick readers! My name is Kristy, I work in the Marketing Department at Fairplex and I am your guest blogger for today! I was approached by our lovely Fair-ey Blogster to let you know about our Street Team.

Each and every year the L.A. County Fair has a group of dedicated and hard-working Fair fans who go out into the communities to spread their love of the Fair to everyone else.  If you ever see one of our Street Team booths at places like Glendora Concerts in the Park, La Verne 4th of July Country Fair or the Upland Street Fair, stop by and say hello!  We won’t try to sell you anything; we are just there to remind people of how much fun they can have at the Fair.  We also have several giveaway items including wooden ants, modeling clay, stuffed horses and lip balm!

It’s a lot of fun to be a Street Team member. One of my favorite aspects is when you get grown men and women that become as excited as little kids when talking about the Fair. The L.A. County Fair is a part of life for people from this area. My mom likes to tell stories of the stuff they used to sell at the Fair and how they used to have the monorail and giant pool in which they skied and did fishing demonstrations. Some of the people that come up to you are more than 80 years old and still fondly remember their first kiss on the Ferris Wheel or their blue ribbon in the cookie contest. 

If you are a reliable, dedicated and fun-loving Fair aficionado who is interested in joining the L.A. County Fair’s Marketing Street Team, leave a comment and let me know!  And remember, to all you reading and blogging, if you see our Street Team and say you read the blog you might get a special surprise!

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80 Days and Counting!

Yes, that’s what I said. Eighty days until the L.A. County Fair. 80. Eight-zero. Ate-eeeee! My list of what I’m looking forward to continues:

  • Hot Dog on a Stick (of course, had to put that first!)
  • Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum (cool Hot Rods)
  • Ice-cold chocolate milk at FairView Farms
  • Chamois sold in the Shopping Place (how do you wash a car without these?)
  • Little baby piglets in FairView Farms
  • Little baby goats in FairView Farms, who climb on top of each other like little goat mountains
  • Big Holstein cows in FairView Farms, waiting to be milked on site. I think they’re beautiful and they already have the two best fashion colors built in – white and black
  • All the rabbits in FairView Farms, so soft, so cuddly
  • The bugs in Fairview Farms, and I don’t mean the ant trail along the barn doors. I mean Mrs. Millipede’s Insect Barn. They aren’t cute, they aren’t cuddly (unless you’re a 9-year-old boy or girl who likes creepy crawlies) but they sure are interesting!
  • Apple Tower drizzled with caramel
  • A Jacuzzi at a great price
  • The horse shows at Cavalcade of Horses – so many beautiful horses!

 Ah, the list goes on. Now that we’re into summer full force, the days will really start to zip by. L.A. County Fair banners will be up across our neighboring cities soon. The End of Summer Concert Series and Adrenalin Nights acts will be announced in mid-July.  It’s all coming together!

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The Eco-Olympics: Going for the Green

The L.A. County Fair is big on fun and deep-fried food, but we’re also proud of our educational element. There’s a reason why we call ourselves the World’s Largest Classroom! We offer education and entertainment for our own brand of “edu-tainment”! We’re also a Fair with a conscience, too. One of the attractions we’re pride of, and excited about, this year is Going Green – Making a World of Difference, presented by Mohr Power Solar Inc. Going Green is our eco-friendly exhibit that will feature displays, products and interactive activities for visitors of all ages.

 

Stepping inside Going Green will be like stepping into a lush rainforest with waterfalls and flowing plants. It will serve as the home to a 200-pound python, geckos, parrots and a sloth. I believe this may be the first time we’ve hosted a sloth. In the past we’ve had a zonkey (zebra-donkey hybrid) and last year a capybara (the world’s largest rodent), but never a sloth. The interactive exhibit, The Forest Journey, offers insight into the history of wood use throughout the world, and explores the relationship between forests and the use of trees while emphasizing the value of forest-friendly products. We’ll have an environmental magician, and Caring for the Land will offer important lessons in protecting California’s outdoor environment. Kids (and adults) will get to meet Smokey Bear, forest rangers, take a Tree ID quiz and go home with tree seedlings they can plant in their own backyard.

 

To go along with our Going Green theme, we thought we’d offer some simple tips, things that we can all do to save energy and help care for our world:

  • Turn off your computer when not in use (or use sleep mode)
  • Unplug electronics/appliances that aren’t in use
  • Use washable cloths instead of paper towels
  • Fix that drip!
  • Pack food in reusable plastic containers
  • Recyle, recycle, recycle!
  • Skip pesticides and use animals for bug eradication (install birdhouses to shelter birds who eat pests; put praying mantes and lady bugs in your garden to get rid of aphids)
  • Take shorter showers
  • Use reusable cloth grocery bags

 

These are all pretty effortless to do and don’t require any special equipment or tools. It is easy being green after all!

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Viva Vino!

A global panel of judges just finished selecting the best wines from around the world at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, held here at Fairplex. The event has been part of the Fair for 69 years, presenting gold, silver and bronze awards to the best the wine world has to offer. And while the event, a private judging, is held in May, the winners will be announced June 14 at the Wine & Cars Under the Stars gala, which is open to the public. The winners will also be showcased at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Marketplace during the L.A. County Fair.

 

The Wine & Spirits Marketplace (presented by Ralphs, who also sponsored the wine competition) is a great opportunity for all of you armchair wine connoisseurs to learn about award-winning wines, olive oil, cheese, ice cream and beer, and sip some of the winning wines and shop in the Crushed Grape. Our wine department, led by our indefatigable cellar master Mary Ellen Cole, always organizes an interesting cadre of wine experts to present classes like wine pairings, “Guess Which Wine?,” wine and chocolate, and cooking with olive oils. We also offer cooking seminars with professional chefs.

 

But if you can’t wait until September to try some of these fantastic wines, get yourself to Wine & Cars Under the Stars, a fun evening where vintages of the grape variety meet up with vintages of the four-wheeled variety. For information on that, visit winecarsstars.com.

 

As the venerable Plato said, “In vino veritas (In wine is truth).”

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