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Ag takes center stage at State Fair

Farm, livestock exhibits among most popular attractions.

Celebrations of the Golden State's abundance of food crops, farm animals, wines and craft beer are ubiquitous at the 166th California State Fair, which opened July 12 and runs through July 28 at Sacramento's Cal Expo.

Thousands of visitors a day flock to two of the fair's most popular attractions -- the 36-year-old farm, which includes outdoor plots as well as a hydroponic greenhouse, an insect pavilion and other attractions; and the livestock barns, where some 4,000 animals are entered in youth and local divisions during the course of the fair.

A favorite venue for children is Ag-Ventureland, which lets them simulate farm chores. They can milk a fiberglass cow, saddle a fake pony, ride around in tractor-tricycles and try their hand at roping "calves" and "steers" -- horns affixed to hay bales. Nearby, a petting zoo lets them touch small animals.

“California’s fair season is off to a great start,” state Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross said recently. “Our local fairs provide a venue for all cultures to come together to showcase one-of-a-kind exhibits, exchange ideas, share new creations, and learn more about the bounty of California agriculture.”

Ross' voice can be heard at the fair's farm giving a recorded narration on the abundance of California agriculture.

A Gala kickoff

Fair-related activities kicked off June 27 with the State Fair Gala at Cal Expo, where Ross was named the 2019 Agriculturalist of the Year, and educator Lloyd McCabe was given the Agricultural Progress Award for his more than 50 years of involvement with the fair. The evening began with a reception for competiion winners in the wine, cheese, beer and extra-virgin olive oil categories. The winners were honored that morning at the state Capitol.

Among other awards, Plymouth, Calif.-based Dick Cooper Ranch is the fair's Vineyard of the Year and winemakers Joel Peterson and Merry Edwards share the Wine Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019.

Sacramento's fair is one of several major festivals being held around the state this month. Others include the California Mid-State Fair July 17-28 in Paso Robles and the Orange County Fair July 12-Aug. 8 in Costa Mesa.

For more information about the State Fair's awards and activities, visit

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