Rides, food, Neverland appealing to thousands at fairgrounds

98th annual Alameda County Fair open for 17-day run

A year after Michael Jackson's death, fairgoers at the Alameda County Fair can take a spin on two rides once featured at Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

The 98th annual fair, which opened Wednesday, is a 17-day assortment of fair festivities and a multitude of events, shows and unique surprises, including the late night fireworks show that starts at dusk next Friday night, July 2.

A highlight is Neverland's "Balloon Samba" ride and the "Moonwalker" ride, both of which will run until the fair's end on July 11.

The Balloon Samba features carriages that simulate riding in a hot air balloon, according to a description from California State Fair representatives. The Moonwalker ride is a Michael Jackson-themed funhouse.

Fully able to accommodate the average of 30,000 daily visitors, the fair encompasses some 268 acres, making it one of the largest of the 84 fairs in California. Nationally, the Alameda County Fair ranks 41 in attendance among all fairs in the U.S.

Although the fair runs through July 11, it's closed on Tuesdays.

The fair's theme this year is "Come Out And Play," a playful challenge to the residents of Pleasanton, the Tri-Valley and the greater Bay Area to visit the fairgrounds.

From fantastic food, exhibits, and entertainment, there is something for everyone at the fair. Families who are looking for a bargain will find fun, food, and folly at a fair price: right in their own back yard. Budget-conscious offerings are plentiful, from food-eating contests to pig races and all things fun in between, April Mitchell, manager of Event Sales and Marketing, said.

This year's fair is also offering special admission prices, including "Kids Free Fridays," "$3 wacky Wednesdays" and "Seniors Free Thursdays."

Military Appreciation Day is also scheduled for next Friday, when all those with a valid military I.D. will receive free admission along with one guest. Veterans are welcome.

Among new activities and attractions this year are:

Puppy PartyPalooza!

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!

Mutton Bustin'

World Championship Mutton Bustin' is "The Toughest Sport on Wool!" Boys and girls, three to six years old, weighing less than 60 pounds, try to ride a sheep for a full six seconds. If they make it six seconds they get a score just like a bull rider would! Don't miss the antics and fun from mascot "Buster Mutton" as he interacts with kids and adults alike.

Super Science

Come join all the Fun with Physics testing your ability to solve brain racking challenges and mind bogglers. Use your imagination to solve puzzles with the Bernoulli principal and Newton's Laws of Motion.

New Foods at the Fair

Check out the World's Largest Waffle Cone filled with yummy gelato and the all new sure to be a favorite Chocolate Covered Bacon.

Returning Favorites include Kid-Friendly/ Family-Friendly Fun such as:

AgVenture Park - This interactive and educational area features fun for the farmer in all of us. Experience simulated cow milking, pony saddling and the kid's corn box play area. Don't forget to check out all the great attractions including the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull, Petting Zoo and so much more.

Kids Park - Families will enjoy this fun place with kid-sized rides and games and features the Balloon Samba, a ride from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch

Pig Races - The only place to see the ever popular pig races, they are a fair favorite and the most taken picture at the Fair.

Carnival Rides - Grand Carousel, Himalaya, Cyclone, Wacky Worm, Fun Mardi Gras, Orient Express are ridden over and over again by the thrill seekers.

Live Horse Racing - With the view of the gorgeous golf course and palm trees waving in the wind, nothing beats the crowd cheering when a favorite wins at break neck speed on the oldest one-mile race track in America.

Live Roller Derby - Rough, tough and tumble entertainment with crowd pleasing jabs, shoves and maybe even some hair pulling action.

Besides all the rides and entertainment, the fair promises to give a boost to the local economies in Pleasanton, the Tri-Valley and Alameda County, adding millions of dollars in revenue as a record number of patrons—possibly more than 500,000—pour through the gates for a day of fun, entertainment and the special foods only county fairs serve.

Pleasanton Finance Director Dave Culver finds it hard to separate out sales tax revenue that comes here from the fair, but his tax reports spike in June and July when the fair is on.

Fairgoers generally come for the day and many are from Pleasanton, but downtown businesses, Stoneridge Shopping Center and other local stores see larger crowds, restaurants are usually filled and local gas stations do a brisk business on fair days. Heavier traffic is seen across the Tri-Valley, showing the benefits of the fair spread well beyond Pleasanton.

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Like this comment
Posted by Lisa Lorentz
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 21, 2010 at 8:31 am

In this hard economy, take avantage of the advance discounted prices for admission and rides! Check out the website for locations that sell these advance discounts and "Fun Packs" that include parking pass (available until June 22). Can purchase online (for small fee) or they sell advance tickets at Raleys, CSV, and more locations per the fair website.
Web Link

Also, Costco is selling a great deal: $44.99 (while suppies last)
2 General Admission ($20 value)AND 2 Unlimited Ride Wristband ($50 to $56 value). This deal is with all other Sees, resturant, movie, ect. tickets they sell.

Combine these savings by attending on one of the special promotional days for even bigger savings.

Enjoy the Alameda County Fair is a great place for family time!

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I passed by the fairgrounds at 12:50pm today, Monday, and saw that the assembly for the large majority of the rides had not even started; the equipment was still folded up on trucks and there were large open spaces where rides were intended to be put. I began wondering: how long does it take to "rapidly assemble scores of rides" as the headline states?

I'm all for promoting and patronizing the fair, as it's lots of fun and good for the local economy, and I'll be attending multiple times with my family, but can someone in the know tell me if "scores of rides" can be "rapidly assembled" in 24 hours, leaving time for thorough inspections before opening on Wednesday at 11 am? Who performs these inspections?

Like this comment
Posted by Wish I didn't buy my tickets online
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jun 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm

I'm so disappointed that I purchased my tickets from the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Stupid me, wasn't paying attention and didn't know that there was a $3.50 "convenience" fee. After I received my receipt I realized that by purchasing my tickets through their site, I only save 50 cents.

Please, please, please do not charge a convenience fee next year. It's so ridiculous!

Like this comment
Posted by Brittany
a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Mike's picture is hilarious.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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