The three-day Independence Day weekend starts today and for Pleasanton and Tri-Valley residents, staying home doesn't get much better.
Besides the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton and fireworks at the fairgrounds tonight, "Burton & Company" returns to the Friday night Concerts in the Park series at 7 p.m. tonight in Lions Wayside Community Park downtown, Pleasanton's 11th annual family celebration is scheduled for noon tomorrow at the same location, and fireworks can be seen in Livermore and San Ramon Saturday night.
The big ticket item is the 97th annual county fair which lasts through Sunday, July 19, although it's closed on Mondays this year. From fantastic food that's not sold anywhere else except at other county and state fairs, the Alameda fair offers exhibits, entertainment, carnival rides and live horse racing right in Pleasanton's own backyard.
One ride in particular that's attracting crowds is the Balloon Samba located in the children's area. Once part of Michael Jackson's Neverland, it was purchased by Bay Area-based Butler Amusements last year, the company that has roughly 60 rides at the fair.
The Balloon Samba, which mimics a hot air balloon ride, is operating in the children's section of the carnival rides and Butler said a sign has been put up to let visitors know it was an original to Neverland Ranch.
Tonight, the Night Ranger band mounts the stage for two shows at the Fairgrounds Pavilion while just a few blocks away "Burton & Company" perform at the free Concerts in the Park at First and Neal streets in downtown Pleasanton. That concert starts at 7 p.m., and both "Burton & Company" and the Night Ranger should end well before the fireworks start at the fairgrounds racetrack.
Fireworks start about 9:15 p.m. Those not in the fairgrounds can watch them from nearby streets and even from locations in the city's southeast hills.
Tomorrow, the fair continues, with gates opening at 10 a.m., and the Pleasanton community holds its unique celebration of the country's birthday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Lions Wayside Park.
The annual, all-volunteer event will feature the Pleasanton Community Band, under the direction of Bob Williams, performing a musical tribute to Victor Herbert on his sesquicentennial year, plus "A Lincoln Portrait" for the bicentennial of his birth. Past and present military personnel and their families also will be honored. This event is part of the Pleasanton Downtown Association's Concerts in the Park series.
Then Sunday, the county fair continues and that night, Carmen Jara is onstage at the Fairgrounds with her spicy concert experience that has made Carmen Jara concert tickets among the hottest in fair performances.
County fair ticket prices vary. For adults, tickets are $10 at the gate or $8 if you pre-purchase on line. For children 6-12, tickets are $6 ($4 pre-paid). Seniors are $8 ($6 pre-paid), and children under 6 are free! There are also "fun packs" and season passes available.
For information about the fair, visit www.alamedacountyfair.com.