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Editorial: Another successful County Fair in Pleasanton

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We said a fond farewell to the 2019 Alameda County Fair earlier this month, with the 107th year seeing a spike in attendance, new cultural events and increased consumption of classic fair food, specifically corn dogs and deep-fried Twinkies.

The fair concluded July 7 to cap an 18-day run full of thrilling rides, live horse racing, star-studded concerts, action sports, animals, cultural festivals and delicious fair foods.

Thousands of people turned out to watch the "Last Ride" of the Opening Day Cattle Drive on June 14. Crowds cheered on hundreds of cattle, cowboys and cowgirls, and fair entertainers as they tromped through Main Street in downtown Pleasanton for the final time.

This year's fair proved as popular as ever, with 454,276 people coming to the fairgrounds during the 18 days -- marking an increase of 7.3% in attendance compared to the 2018 fair, according to totals just released by fair officials.

The beautiful weather this year might account for that increase. Brutal heat during summer days in Pleasanton can deter people from going to the fairgrounds, but almost every fair day this year saw comfortable temperatures.

Of course, the last cattle drive, big-name concerts and new cultural events also boosted turnout.

Fair-goers again chowed down on their favorite fried foods by the thousands, consuming 35,320 corn dogs (an increase of 11.5% over last year), 33,684 funnel cakes and 784 deep-fried Twinkies -- plus other fair staples like 12,872 barbecue turkey legs and 4,852 orders of cotton candy.

There was a small uptick in fine art sales, with sales of $17,836 during the fair. Add that to the $67,671.74 in small animal sales, which was up 15.9%, and $716,391 in sales from the junior livestock auction.

The live horse racing was also a big draw, although attendance was a bit lower than 2018 with 49,483 people taking in Oak Tree at Pleasanton during the 15 days of racing this summer.

Attendees with a charitable spirit came through once again with 27,000 pounds of food, which equates to 22,500 meals, donated to benefit the Alameda County Community Food Bank and 6,736 people donating clothing, an increase of 23% over 2018.

In a new pet food drive, attendees donated 19,813 pounds of pet food.

One unfortunate occurrence happened during the final week of the fair when an R-rated movie was inadvertently played on a screen outside the funhouse, and kids and parents got an eyeful of a sex scene. The kid-friendly pirate movie had been accidentally switched with a very adult pirate movie. But the fair staff quickly changed the film and the fun continued.

Speaking of the midway, the addition of the new Mega-Flip ride drew thrill seekers to the carnival as it thrust riders high in the air while spinning and twisting. The Sky Ride, a cross-grounds attraction offering a bird's eye view of the fair, was also a popular fair feature and saw increased riders this year.

Other highlights this year were:

* Concert-goers packed the amphitheater nightly for the Big O Tires Concert Series, which featured performances from Ashanti, Trace Adkins, Gin Blossoms, Sheila E. and Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe.

* The fair introduced several new cultural festivals to celebrate the deep multicultural roots of the Bay Area, including an Asian Pacific Celebration, Out at the Fair and Bollywood at the Fair.

* The Action Sports Arena came alive each weekend with featured shows like extreme rodeo, Arenacross Nationals, monster trucks and demolition derby.

* STEAM weekends featured fun, hands-on educational exhibits and activities for kids with themes like agriculture and horticulture, engineering, electronics and robots, Lego Festival, Robot Day, and environment and space.

"With the Last Ride of the Cattle Drive, the great concerts and all our new special features, every day offered something fun for everyone," said Jerome Hoban, CEO of the Alameda County Fair. "We are so grateful to all who came out and continue to make the fair a part of their summer tradition."

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


5 people like this
Posted by Willy
a resident of Old Towne
on Jul 19, 2019 at 9:46 am

Willy is a registered user.

The Alameda Fair is not what it once was :-( In addition, Pleasanton has to put up with garbage everywhere and some very unruly people.

5 people like this
Posted by Hotslide
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Jul 19, 2019 at 11:13 am

One item I don't see posted is the revenue from parking, entrance fees and incidentals. With nearly a half million people attending I imagine the intake is substantial. After paying for all-in expenses, how much "county fair" money is considered "profit" and how is it dispersed?

5 people like this
Posted by davidlee
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 19, 2019 at 12:19 pm

The Fair provides opportunity for youngsters to have a place to see livestock that some would never know existed in 'real life'. See how plants are grown, art in all forms, live entertainment, wholesome fun, and experience all different walks of life in one tiny spot on earth....It is all good, unless some just cannot leave well enough alone. It's something that can be a great experience and builds never to be forgotten memories.

2 people like this
Posted by HadFun
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 22, 2019 at 7:40 am

We enjoyed the expanded area for toddlers and younger kids to small to ride the big rides.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Growing up here, I mark the years by the fair. Not birthdays, or new years. For me the fair is my time to reflect on another year while taking in the constants that I've seen since I was a kid. Other than the freak shows being gone, I don't think it has changed much at all. My mind can jump between 1985 and 2019 as I walk though, which can be emotionally disorienting.

There is some new, such as finding a new easter egg each year hidden in the model train layout. I love the collections. And I'm strangely fascinated by the artistry in the themed place settings competition. Seriously! Check it out next year.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 22, 2019 at 2:30 pm


The fair is a nonprofit organization. Nobody gets the profits other than the fair itself. You can see the salaries of the highest paid employees if you like. They're online.

It's really an amazing self-sustaining operation. I was able to hear the prior director of the fairgrounds speak about their business, and I was amazed. It's a very well run operation.

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