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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Day with the Carnies

Sunday I ventured to Pomona, CA, for the L.A. County Fair to spend a day with the carnies.

The fair is broken up into a couple of main areas: See Map
  1. Fairview Farms
  2. Grandstand
  3. Carnival
  4. California's Heritage Square
  5. Shopping Place
  6. Park Square
  7. Clocktower Plaza
  8. Action Avenue
  9. Palms Marketplace
  10. Home and Gardens
  11. Museums
We parked near the Blue Gate so we entered near Fairview Farms. Our first task was to find the corndog stand. Five minutes later I was desperately regretting my lunch choice but alas it was too late.

Looking up from our lunch table, we saw a huge grandstand with racetrack and the gambling itch began in earnest. So, we clambered up the stairs just in time to see one of the horse races. I urged my boyfriend to bet on the race but betting on horses is kind of overwhelming so we bet between the two of us on which horse would win. I picked #3; he picked #4. I won. The odds meant that if I'd bet $20 on my horse I would've won $100. GODDAMNIT.

Elated that my horse won anyway, we hurried to the Home and Garden area to see the Extreme Pet Show. We got there way too early and ended up watching the Splash Dog Competition first. This competition was AWESOME! Essentially, the owner and dog stand at the end of a long platform that ends in a huge vat of water. The owner gives the dog a signal, throws a toy towards the water and then the dog jumps into the water. It's like the Olympic Long Jump; the goal is to get your dog to leap the farthest across the pool. This dog beat the world record apparently:

Still too early for the Pet Show, we decided to "Enter Africa." In Africa, we saw a crazy looking pelican, touched a scorpion, looked in the cage of a giant porcupine and got to play with the cutest hedgehog I have ever seen. Such random animals but so cool! The employees working with them were really nice and informative as well. The scorpion guy asked if I wanted to hold it but I politely and fearfully declined. He said that this particular type of scorpion is extremely docile and won't sting unless you try to crush it with your hand. Still not a good enough reason for me unfortunately.

Finally, the Pet Show hour had arrived. There was the puppy high-jump, the puppy long jump (the dog jumped over the backs of three people), and the puppy obstacle course containing poles to weave through, a tunnel to climb through, and a flying Frisbee they had to catch. To be honest the Splash Dog and hedgedog activities were way cooler. The Pet Show is DEFINITELY targeted towards really little kids. Lame.

From there we wandered to the Carnival section and searched for our two favorite carnival games. The first is the horse racing one were you roll balls into holes and for each ball you get in a hole your horse moves forward. Obviously, the more balls you roll in faster, the faster your horse wins the race. We won a bright orange elephant that I named Ollie. The second game literally is just throwing baseballs at beer bottles trying to break them. No real skill involved.

The best part was all the employee working the games who were obsessed with USC and were so excited to talk to us about football once they found out we were Trojan alums. It was awesome. One guy even said, "It's so fun to talk to smart people!" (Oh carnies)

Tickets for the games and rides are hugely expensive so we quickly ran out of tickets. You can buy 40 tickets for $20 but then you find out that even a carnival game is 10 tickets for one play. That's pretty much four ride/games for $20. Sucks. So we spent the last of our tickets on the log ride which looks super ghetto but was really fun. There is one minor drop that is more fun than scary and then a huge vertical drop that gets you really really wet. I love water rides!

It was about this time that we were starting to get a little tired of the fair and the heat, but there was no way we were missing the pig races so we headed towards Fairview Farms. The pig racing stadium is at the very back of the Farm area so on the way we watched a couple baby goats playing in a pen. They were adorable.

The pig racing was hilarious. There were four pigs in each race and four sections of the grandstand rooting for each pig. I naturally was rooting for the orange pig. Each race had a theme from Gilligan's Island to Celebrities to Country Singers. The racing names ranged from Lindsay Lo"Ham" to "Piggy" Chesney. An old cowboy was the announcer. It was ridiculous to be honest. I had no idea pigs were so fast!

Before leaving the fair we stopped at the BBQ outpost for BBQ corn (my favorite!). It was as delicious as I remember. We also got a glimpse of some Mexican Wrestling in the Heritage Area on our way out. They looked like Jack Black in Nacho Libre - fat and spandexy haha.

For a $15 entry fee my five hours at the fair were well worth it and I didn't even see everything! The one nuggest of wisdom for you if you go is to look for the Sparklett's water tents because they have free water on tap so that you don't have to buy atrociously expensive bottled water.

All and all a great way to spend a sunny Sunday in Los Angeles.

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