As we prepare for the final full week of the 2019 Alameda County Fair, we should reflect on what the fair brings to Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley.
For 18 days this year, Pleasanton is in the spotlight, welcoming hundreds of thousands fun-seekers from around the region.
Local establishments, especially restaurants, see an uptick in business. Because the fairgrounds are located within the city's boundaries, the fair brings in a significant amount of sales tax revenue to Pleasanton. And visitors patronize local shops, purchase gasoline and stay at Pleasanton hotels, which brings in more revenue for the coffers.
The Alameda County Fair, which started in 1912, is synonymous with Pleasanton. Today's fair continues the traditions of yesteryear's fair -- such as the pig races, farm animals and exhibits -- but now offers a plethora of rides, games, food options, concerts and events.
Another tradition of our fair is horse-racing. The fairgrounds is home to the oldest one-mile race track in America, and every year during the fair, horse racing fans from all over the Bay Area watch and wager. It's ironic that the horse racing was already on the property and the fairgrounds were built in Pleasanton because of the track location.
Tipping a (cowboy) hat to the past, the Opening Day Cattle Drive has brought 150 head of cattle, dogs, riders on horseback and thousands of people to downtown Pleasanton for the past three years.
Unfortunately, the 2019 drive was billed as the last ride.
"The Alameda County Fair is taking a hiatus from the cattle drive because we strive to keep things fresh each year," explained Angel Moore, vice president of business development for Alameda County Fair. "We love the cattle drive and the history it represents. The fair team is brainstorming ideas of what's next to signal the opening of the fair."
In the spirit of keeping things fresh, new this year were the "Out at the Fair" for the LGBTQ+ community and Asian Pacific Celebration at the Fair, which were both held last weekend. Coming up this Sunday is Bollywood at the Fair.
This final week also features the Red, White and Blues Festival and the Wine Fest with the Derby Dog Dash, both this Saturday. There are concerts nightly, except July 4. Bands playing this week are the Gin Blossoms this Friday night, BB King Blues Band on Saturday, James Garner's Tribute to Johnny Cash on Sunday, Trace Adkins on July 3, Aja Vu (Steely Dan tribute band) on July 5, Tommy Castro and the Painkillers on July 6 and Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe on July 7. Horse racing will be Thursdays through Sundays, with post time at 1:45 p.m.
Regardless of whether you are 8 years old or 80, there is something for everyone at the fair. Carnival rides and the petting zoo are a hit with the younger set; adults enjoy the horse racing, concerts, exhibits and shopping.
If your family is like most in Pleasanton and has a tradition of going to the fair, or you want to start that tradition, make sure you get there before July 7, when the fair closes for the year.