Alameda County Fair closes today after 19-day run

Spectacular fireworks show draws record crowds for Independence Day festivities

It's the final day for the Alameda County Fair after a 19-day run that saw record-high crowds last night for a spectacular fireworks show.

A wide range of festivities continue today until the gates close st 11 p.m. including familiar fair activities and carnival rides.

For many, attending the fair has been an annual tradition of rituals and routines shared with friends and family.

Pleasanton's Amy Schwab and her friends looked forward to the first sighting of the fair's concert schedule flashed on the electronic board at the corner of Valley and Bernal.

"Con Funk Shun is always girls' night out for us," Schwab said. "The concerts are filled with so much energy. It's outdoors, so I don't feel confined, and the smaller venue keeps it from feeling too crowded. Everyone's up and dancing -- the old-school music takes me back."

Tonight, Terri Nunn and Berlin will close out the Big O Concert Series with a medley of the band's hits from the '80s.

Hundreds will place their finals bets at the oldest mile-long racetrack in the United States. You don't have to be an expert to enjoy watching the horses run -- but if you'd like to up the odds on picking a winner, the fair hosts an impressive lineup of racing celebrities sharing their wagering strategies.

If your image of the fair is all about deep-fried food and whirling carnival rides, today also offers your last chance to enjoy a variety of unique tastes. There are also more fun events at Agventure Park, where tractor pulls, pig racing and a petting zoo bring a welcome laid back, old-time county fair feel.

After testing your hidden cowboy or cowgirl talents on the mechanical bull, head over to the Junior Livestock exhibits and learn what it takes to raise a cow, sheep, pig or goat for auction. It's an involved, year-long process that includes ethics training, fair time weigh-ins and showmanship competitions.

Today is auction day for those looking to support local 4-H clubs and Livermore High's Future Farmers of America program while filling their freezers with top-quality steaks and bacon.

Just a little south of Agventure Park is the Action Zone Arena, where you'll find small animal exhibits and the Alameda County Central Railroad Society's model train layouts.

Or maybe you're looking for a little more action in the Action Zone. Tonight, the spectacular Motor Home Derby should prove standing-room only -- 4,000 spectators are expected for the show.

After all that action, you will be ready to head over to the Relax Zone's wine garden, where live music plays until 10:30 p.m.

Looking to loosen up a little more? Let hypnotist Jim Kellogg Jr. help you out. Audience members are always the stars of the show -- if you're not up as a participant, there is a good chance one of your friends will be on stage during the last of the two nightly presentations.

Of course, when you think "fair," you think rides. And there's no escaping the draw of the laughter and lights that every kid, or kid at heart, has been watching from Bernal Avenue since the fair opened 19 days ago.

Clearly someone familiar with children was consulted when the fair designated both a Kid's Park and the traditional carnival area, allowing families to introduce little ones to rides and games without the chaos and action found in the more crowded midway.

Huckle Cat and Curious George will be hosting Storyville at the Kid's Park again today, keeping the smaller kids entertained with games and story time (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.), which coordinates well with the Freestyle Motorcross Exhibitions that takes place at noon, 3 p.m and 6 p.m.

For more fair information for the final day of the Alameda County Fair, sign on to its website

Fair prices

Adults (13-61) ... $12

Seniors (62+) ... $8

Kids (6-12) ... $8

Children under 6 ... Free

Military Appreciation: Free admission with valid Military ID.

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