Did You Know Angora Goats’ Wool Makes Mohair Sweaters?

Neither did I! But after spending a morning with Sky Shivers, the handlebar-mustached Oklahoman cowboy/farmer who coordinates the Fair’s popular FairView Farms, I learned a lot of things. And so will you after visiting the Farm. Sky and his “posse” have really boosted the educational foundation of the Farm but you’re having so much fun, you don’t even realize how much you are learning. And isn’t that the best learning of all?

Here’s the scoop: baby goats, sheep and miniature pigs are the stars of the baby animal show inside The Big Red Barn. Bales of hay serve as seating in front of a little stage where a member of Sky’s posse will teach Fairguests how to take care of orphaned animals. The stage setting is repeated throughout various locations of the Barn for several different shows on many different topics like goat milking and sheep shearing.

One of the really cool aspects of the Farm’s education process is the continuity factor. In the cattle pen you’ll see a 1-year-old red heifer named Freedom. Freedom was born here at the Farm last year on Sept. 11. She returns this year as a “teenage girl” and will return next year as a “woman,” ready to have a baby (hopefully here at the Fair). “It’s part of the cycle we want to teach and show  Fairguests,” said Sky.

A cool new animal the Farm has this year is the Caspian horse. The Caspian is the oldest breed of recognizable horse in the world. Sky said they were thought to be extinct but were discovered by a woman in the 1980s, on the banks of the Caspian Sea. “There are only 300 Caspians horses in the United States and 900 total in the world today.” The Caspians are diminutive in stature but colossal in spirit. The horses that you often see heading the chariots in Egyptian hieroglyphics are Caspian horses.

Sky said he believes visitors are going to enjoy the expanded educational programming at the Farm. One of his favorite new areas is the hay baling barn. Sky built an exact replica of a 1896 Sears and Roebuck baler that kids will get to use to bale hay for use in FairView Farms.

And, of course, there are animals, animals, animals! A Dorper lamb was born early Wednesday with many more baby animals expected to make their appearance into the world during the Fair. When we were talking about sheep, Sky mentioned that while the wool industry has suffered from the use of synthetic wool, the U.S. Army chooses to use sheep’s wool in soldiers outfits to protect them in cases of fire from roadside bombings. Synthetic wool burns quickly, sticking to skin. Real, 100 % wool self-extinguishes and could be the difference between minimal injury and third-degree burns.

One other new animal you can see in the Farm is the Zebu – the smallest breed of cattle. It is one of 28 breeds of Brahma cattle from India. Our Zebu is a year old and looks like a calf.

Didn’t I tell you there was so much to learn? And these are just a few of the wonderful things in FairView Farms. When you think about it, us cityfolk know very little about farm life, agriculture, the animals that feed us and clothe us and help sustain the world. Now I’m going back out to the Farm to commune with my barnyard friends.

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This Ain’t an Episode of Hoarders

Remember that Troll Doll collection you had growing up? Or maybe it was Beanie Babies in the 90s. Yeah, this isn’t really like that. The art of collecting is on display at this year’s Fair. In the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts, guests can check out (for free with admission!) an exhibit unlike any other—Eclections. The Center features “eclectic collections” from enthusiastic collectors from all over the country. Journey through the historical, creative, artistic and practical applications of each collection.

Examples of the collections include:
* Nostalgic neon signage from all over Los Angeles.
* Miniature architectural models that were built for well-known buildings from around the world will be on display.
* Model railroad engines and railway cars that will take you back to a time to your youth.
* Antique button collections. From the uniforms of soldiers, police officers and other civil servants, each reminds us how much these individuals have touched so many lives over the decades.
* Artworks and crafts designed for everyday use tell their story as a single piece and what they symbolize when they are put together as an eclection.

Guests will not only view collections large and small, but they will also have the opportunity to watch and learn from demonstrating artists working in similar media to each collection. The exhibit will also include docent and audio tours, a professional storyteller, educational workshops and hands-on activities that will examine how historical collections have modern day applications.

To find out more visit www.fairplex.com/fp/Foundations/MillardSheets.

Think you know your collectors? Name the Academy Award winner and Academy Award nominee who both collect Norman Rockwell paintings. The first person to guess both correctly wins two tickets to the Fair!

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Best Fair Food, As Concluded by the Experts

We took a poll on what is the best Fair food, which I am presenting here. Who did we survey, you ask? Why, the experts, of course! And by experts I mean those of us who work here. We are here practically 24/7 for an entire month, so if anyone knows the best grub, we do. Without further ado, I present the Top Fair Food According to The Experts aka Fair Employees (when you get to Hot Dog on a Stick, you know who voted for that one!):

Deep Fried Oreos
Indian Fry Bread
King Taco
Ten Pound Buns
Hot Dog on a Stick
The new Maple Bacon Doughnut
Dr. Bob’s Ice Cream
Blooming Onion
BBQ from Chuckwagon
Maria’s Italian Kitchen
Candied Pecans
Funnel Cake
Gingerbread Treats
The new Cardinali WoodFire Pizza
Pink’s Hot Dogs
Mackinac Island Fudge
Fresh Fruit from Terry’s Berries
Warm Cinnamon Rolls
Fresh Grilled Corn on the Cob

Whew, what a list we came up with!  You’ll need to make more than just one trip to try all these yummy goodies!  Curious if we have YOUR favorite food?  Check out our food finder! Or drop us a comment and let us know what you can’t wait to sink your teeth into!

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Asian performers delight fair goers at the 2010 L.A. County Fair

We’re ALWAYS down for a party at the Fair. This year we have four cultural “parties,” celebrating the unique heritages of Latin America, the Basque region, Ireland and Asia. Each is open for a weekend and will feature great shopping, fun entertainment and amazing ethnic foods. A unique village experience for each festival brings the feel of each cultural community to our larger community.

Festival Latinoamericano de Arte y Folklore will take place Friday, Sept. 3 to Sunday, Sept. 5. It will highlight the arts of Latin America, with artisans from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina. Fairgoers will also enjoy traditional folk dances and concerts.

Basque Village will be here Friday, Sept. 16 to Sunday, Sept. 18 and will feature the three influencing cultures on the Basque people. Friday will highlight Basque culture including foods like the traditional Basque cake gateau Basque. Saturday showcases French culture with foods like Napoleons and éclairs. Spanish flavor is celebrated Sunday with tapas, paella and Flamenco entertainment.

The Celtic Village opens Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25. Fair patrons can revel in the luck and food of the Irish, with traditional favorites like Irish stew in a bread bowl, bangers, fish & chips and corned beef. Sheep-herding demos, traditional and contemporary bands, storytellers, clog and traditional step dancing are just some of the entertainment. There is also an actual Leprechaun available for photos and tips on the best places to hide pots of gold.

Closing the Fair is the Asian Festival, Friday, Sept. 30 to Sunday, Oct. 2. America’s Best Dance Crew winner We Are Heroes and American Idol finalist Andrew Garcia will entertain and delight Fair crowds on the Coca-Cola stage.  A Street Market & Night Market theme will bring alive the vibrant Asian market culture at the Festival Plaza. Ethnic food vendors will be on hand, offering authentic Asian and fusion flavors.

All festivals will be held at the Festival Plaza, except for the Festival Latinoamericano de Arte y Folklore, which will be held in Plaza de las Americas. Entrance to all of the festivals is included with fair admission.

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fairtime…

Ev’rywhere you go! Seriously! 11 days to go before the biggest SoCal September event opens its gates. Are we excited? Yes! Are we going to have mouth-watering food? Yes! Are we going to have amazing attractions that feature sharks, bears and dinosaurs? Yes! Are we going to have emo-rides (those are rides that cause all sorts of happy emotions, not depressed, stressed out rides who wear skinny jeans)? Yes! Am I going to show you some pre-Fair photos? Yes!

As readers of the Fairey Blogster you know that I love Hot Dog on a Stick – my favorite Fair food. But I also love Chicken Charlie and all his fixins’. One of his two stands is up; looks tempting already:

Chicken Charlie’s stand on Redwood.



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Find the Wonders of Nature at the Fair

Ever wanted to wander the meadows of Yosemite? Marvel at the Grand Tetons in Wyoming? Behold the ancient trees of the Sequoias? Or relive your vacations to all of these places? You’re in luck—the 2011 L.A. County Fair will dazzle and delight you with the flora and fauna of America’s national parks at the Flower & Garden Pavilion.

The Wonders of Nature: A Tribute to National Parks will have you traveling through some of America’s most treasured sites. From deserts to lush forests, there are a variety of landscapes that will be on display. Of course there will be plenty of plants, trees and vegetation from our national parks, but will also have real wildlife you can see in our new Wildlife Preserve. Meet our birds of prey, visit with the our very own owl Bandit, see Tut the king snake, Rickey the rabbit, Pockets the opossum, and more!

You can visit the exhibit with our guides and get a closer look at what fascinating foliage and animals live in our national parks. You’ll see how so many amazing and different species live together.

The Wonders of Nature: A Tribute to National Parks runs throughout the Fair and is open during Fair hours. Entrance is free with admission to the Fair!

Tell us what you think: Which is your favorite national park and why? Respond below for a chance to win a fun Fair prize!

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Try Our Top 10 Free Family Activities

Nothing is sweeter than spending time with your family, and the Fair knows that!  With tight budgets and a challenging economy,  we know what you want: things to do with your family that are cost effective!  With tons of great admission promotions (bring a few children’s books your kids have outgrown and voila, a ticket to the Fair during Book Drive Thursdays) it’s up to you what you make of your day.  Here are some helpful hits at fun FREE family activities while at the Fair:

10.  Swing in the Trees with Mojo - It’s a jungle out here at the L.A. County Fair – literally! The hillside above the Flower & Garden Pavilion has transformed into an interactive, living jungle.

9.  Travel back to the Land of Frogs, Princesses and Knights - Escape into a land of frogs, princesses, and knights and let your imagination run wild as you embark on a journey to a place full of wonder and magical allure. Once you cross the drawbridge you will enter into a world where princesses reign, knights fight for honor and fairy tales are born.

8.  Team up with Smokey Bear at Wilderness Ridge - Discover the wonders of the great outdoors when you explore the beauty of Mother Nature right here at the L.A. County Fair. Go back in time and learn about the logging industry that took place across the United States in the early 1900s.

7.  Arr and Arf in Pet’s Ahoy - An animal adventure on the high seas- Ahoy mateys!  Well, it’s official…the pirates have gone to the dogs…and cats, and birds, and rats!  Pillaging pirates have invaded Bark Park – but don’t worry, we let the dogs out and they are fighting back!

6.  Stomp Around with the Dinosaurs – Learn all about the Giganotosaurus, Dimetrodon, Dilophasaurus, Tyrannosaurus and many more along your journey through Jurassic Planet.

5.  Celebrate Your Community with a Parade – Join us every day of the Fair as we honor our local communities and organizations with a grand parade dedicated especially for them!  Each parade will include elements from the Fair neighborhoods, high school bands, grounds acts and entertainment, classic cars, floats and much more!

4.  Watch a Milking Demonstration - Visit Daisy’s Education Barn where you’ll learn where milk comes from in the milking parlor as you watch the cows milked the old fashion way. Then walk next door to Cindi’s Curds & Whey Barn where you can learn how to make ice cream, butter, cottage cheese and cream cheese the old-fashioned way all day.

3.  Pet an Animal – In the Farm House Friends Petting Barn at The Big Red Barn you can pet some furry barnyard friends in one of the largest petting barnyards anywhere.

2.  Surround Yourself with Science in America’s Kids - Physics, chemistry and kinetics are all around us… every day. Every time we bounce a ball, bake a cake or wash our hands, the basic principles and laws of science are present.

1.  Hang out in California’s Heritage Square - Experience early California history. Tour the Little Red School House and imagine you’re a student in the 1920s, visit the Riverside Farm House which was built in 1922 and even pan for gold and meet our resident miners.

See you in 14 days!!!

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Pirate-y Pet Adventures Await at Pets Ahoy!

Ahoy, mateys! What’s funner than learnin’ to sail the high seas with the most fearsome bunch of buccaneers to ever pillage and plunder? Doing it with yer favorite peg-leg pets!

Pirates Ahoy

Pirates are invading the fair and settin' up ship.

Landlubbers get ready for a voyage to a place where rowdy pirates and a four-legged crew collide at Pets Ahoy. Swashbuckling shows and entertainin’ encounters feature dogs, cats, birds and rats that will delight me hearties! Lads and lassies will enjoy seein’ death-defying doggie stunts at Pets Overboard. In Buccaneer Boot Camp yer scalawag skills will be tested to see if yer inner pirate will bring home the booty or walk the plank. You’ll also be able to make yer own pirating paraphernalia! Performin’ acts of piracy are the salty seaman of the Traveling Buccaneers. And buccaneers of a feather stick together in the high flyin’ Pirate Bird show!

So raise the Jolly Roger and set your compass due fun as we look for treasure and adventure! The cap’n and his crew will see you there or you may find yourself swimmin’ in Davey Jones’ Locker.

We want to know…if your pet was a pirate, what would its pirate name be? Tell us for a chance to win a free prize! Send your response to contests@fairplex.com and include your full name and address.

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Dinos Stomp into the Fair!

Well, actually, they rode in on the back of a semi. Semantics! Either way, they are here! Nineteen terrifying, treacherous yet totally terrific dinosaurs rolled into the L.A. County Fair today, by way of Texas – ready to thrill guests of the Jurassic Planet attraction. From a Giganotosaurus to an Edmontonia to the very popular T. Rex, the giant reptiles looked awesome as they arrived. Take a look at some video I shot of a juvenile T. Rex getting off the truck and our designer Michael Converse telling us a little bit about Jurassic Planet:

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(Wine) Knowledge is Power!

I know you are coming to the Fair. You know you are coming to the Fair. So, how about we take a class? The work in this classroom is work we will enjoy – trust me! Meet me at the Wine & Spirits Marketplace for one (or more!) of the many great wine education classes and seminars available.

Conducted by wine makers, educators, sommeliers and wine writers, the classes range from wine and food pairings to classes on different wine varietals to cooking demonstrations by Chef Henry Gonzalez of Spaggi’s Restaurant. Master Sommelier Michael Jordan will host two Internet radio shows on Sept. 9 & 16 from the marketplace.

Each class features a minimum of six wines and three cheeses. Each participant will receive a tasting ticket for a taste of a gold medal winner from the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, available at the International Tasting Bar. The cost per class is $17. See a complete list of classes here.

At the Wine & Spirits Marketplace, taste more than 300 medal-winning wines, spirits, beers and extra virgin olive oils. It’s a great place to hang out with friends, get a bite to eat, relax in air-conditioned splendor or have a seat in the beautifully decorated patio.

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