Temperatures reached 100 degrees last weekend but have since "dropped" into the more comfortable 80s, raising expectations that this will be the best-attended county fair ever by the time it ends a week from Sunday, July 11.
April Mitchell, event sales and marketing manager for the fair, said this year's 98th annual fair offers an array of attractions, special exhibits, contests and unique gifts that are drawing crowds from throughout the Bay Area. Tonight's fireworks display, always one of the best around, should appeal to thousands as the Fourth of July holiday weekend begins.
The fireworks will start at dusk on the racetrack with good viewing from the grandstands. By the time the display begins, concert-goers at Pleasanton's :ions Wayside Community Park will have had time to grab their blankets from an early evening listening to Burton & Company and walk to the fairgrounds.
With "Come out and Play" as this year's theme, fair organizers have filled the fairgrounds with fantastic food, including chocolate covered bacon and other "delicacies" that only fairs offer, as well as music, competitive games and contests and rides galore. Among the highlights are:
* Michael Jackson and Elvis - from the "King of Pop" to the "King of Rock," enjoy the Balloon Samba carnival ride, straight from Jackson's Neverland Ranch along with a new ride, the Michael Jackson Moonwalker. Elvis Presley loved his Harley Davidson Motorcycle. So much so, only 30 replicas have been reproduced. See the "Elvis Cycle" along with memorabilia from Graceland at the Alameda County Fair.
* Mutton Bustin' for the little ones; must be 6 years old or younger, weigh 60 pounds or less and ride for at least 6 seconds. Cost is $10. Mutton Bustin' is a pint-sized version of rodeo riding. Children attempt to ride galloping sheep in the ring and the riders have their work cut out for them! The longest rider will be entered into the World Championships in Fresno this October.
* Puppy Party Palooza - This hands-on, interactive and fun-filled learning exhibit brings families and Fidos together! Learn everything you need to know about dogs and view demonstrations on dog grooming and heath care. Check out the popular "Pup-E-Harmony" to help match your family with the perfect dog! Twenty-nine dogs have been adopted to date onsite at the Alameda County Fair.
Of course no county fair is without exotic foods that most don't find anywhere else, including chocolate covered garlic and bacon to corn dogs, funnel cakes and deep fried Twinkies. There's also a BBQ Rib Cook-Off, where contestants vie for the coveted title of Best Ribs at the Fair, a Hot Dog Eating Relay Contest, which is guaranteed to get loads of laughs and plenty of full stomachs by the contestants, and "Make it, Take it, Bake it and Grow it" exhibits where blue ribbons show the best in the show winners from numerous competitions during the fair.
The Alameda County Fair also is known for horse racing on a racetrack, that's oldest one-mile race track in the country, and for its scores of carnival rides. This year, these include the Grand Carousel, Himalaya, Cyclone, Wacky Worm, Fun Mardi Gras and Orient Express
The fair is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except for July 4 when it closes at 6 p.m. This year, the fair is also closed on Tuesdays.