Here comes the fair!
Fireworks tonight, big parade tomorrow on Main Street
The Alameda County Fair kicks off today for a 17-day run of fun and excitement for all ages, special tributes for the men and women in uniform, and fantastic entertainers in the biggest concert series ever.
Thousands are expected to attend opening day ceremonies and the spectacular 20-minute fireworks show tonight, followed by the largest fair parade ever tomorrow morning on Main Street. The fireworks display starts at approximately 9:15 p.m. with the best viewing areas in and around the racetrack grandstand. The event, staged by Boom Boom Productions, is being sponsored by Fremont Bank.
The traditional opening day parade on Main Street will begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow, winding through historic Main Street and ending at the fairgrounds. This year's Grand Marshal is KTVU-Channel 2 anchor Julie Haener.
With more than 90 parade entries, over-sized balloons, floats and 10 bands, the 2007 parade promises to be the largest ever to open the county fair.
With the theme "Sounds of Summer," this year's 95th anniversary fair is placing special emphasis on entertainment, contests, livestock shows and carnival rides for all age groups--from toddlers to 90-year-olds.
These include the fourth annual rib cook-off tomorrow at the Cooking Academy, the grandparents and grandchild Rice Krispy contest and a text messaging contest that ends June 25.
Featured today through Sunday, July 8, when the fair closes, are a wide variety of music and comedy performances in the fairgrounds' 3,000-seat amphitheater. Artists will perform two shows nightly, at 6 and 8 p.m. All concerts are free with the general admission tickets.
The Bay City Rollers lead off tonight, followed by country trio SheDaisy tomorrow. Popular R&B group Boyz II Men take the stage Sunday, celebrating 15 years together since the release of their debut album "CooleyHighHarmony. This year, the group is promoting songs for a new album they plan to release later this year.
The Imagination Movers round out a full day of activities planned for Kid's Day June 26, with songs about messy rooms, healthy snacks and other topics just for kids. The Movers audio and video, right at home on MTV, encourage kids to "reach high, think big, work hard and have fun," said April Mitchell, marketing manager for the fairgrounds.
Collin Raye is Nashville's "go-to" guy for songs with meat on the bones, who goes out of his way to deal with social truth and gripping reality in his music. That's why the fair has scheduled satirical music comedians Will & Ree to open up for Raye on July 5.
Senior Day on June 27 will showcase Herman's Hermits, starring Peter Noone. Part of the British invasion in music, their trademark simple, non-threatening and clean-cut 'boys next door' image has made them easier to listen to and more accessible than other British invasion bands.
This Sunday, Chef Martin Yan from "Yan Can Cook", who will be on the Cooking Academy stage, will share some of his recipes for light Chinese summer fare as well as autograph his new books at 2 and 5 p.m.
Starting today, the fair will also honor the contributions of the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces with a military appreciation weekend. All those with valid military IDs will receive free admission and a second free ticket for a guest.
Besides special admission promotions for the military, Kids Free Fridays for 12 and under also starts today, with kids eligible for free gate admission on June 29 and July 6. Seniors Free Wednesdays for those 62 and over start next Wednesday and are also available on July 4. And $2 Tuesdays are June 26 and July 3, with gate admission for everyone set at just $2.
Of course, it's not all parades and entertainment. This year's fair has hundreds of exhibits, contests and fair rides. There's even a Kids Tractor Pull where the young ones can pull their way to the end with a sliding weight dragging them down. The fourth annual apple pie contest is also targeted toward young people who are asked to bring their heritage homemade recipe to the judging table to see if they have grandma's talents.
In the fairgrounds' assortment of large, air-conditioned exhibition halls, fairgoers can find arts and crafts, knitting and crochet, scrapbooking, homemade jams, candy and cookies, and plenty of flower arrangements.
For many, the most exciting part of the fair is America's oldest racetrack, which will feature horseracing from next Wednesday, June 27, through closing day on Sunday, July 8. That will total 11 days of thundering hooves as jockeys battle for positions coming around the final turn. Post time is 12:15 p.m. daily, although there will be no horseracing on Tuesday, July 5.
Box seats are sold out, but there's a new feature this year: a trackside terrace that includes a full buffet, reserved seating and an excellent view of the racetrack with TV monitors near each table, and all for $30, including fair admission. Call 426-7511 for reservations.
Adult fair admission is $9 at the gate, $7 for seniors 62 and over, and $6 for children. A Family Pak that includes two adults, two children, a parking pass and 30 ride coupons is $39. Unlimited carnival wristbands will be sold for $25 and parking costs $8.
For more information on fair events, schedules and prices, visit www.AlamedaCountyFair.com or call 426-7600.