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Annual Fair illuminates diversity, family fun

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Ray Cammack Shows beckons Fairgoers with bright lights, game booths and rollercoasters in addition to the fair's traditional attractions. Besides the Fun Zone at the 1999 Los Angeles County Fair, the carnival company sets up amusement parks at the Orange County Fair and the California State Fair. / photo by Ian Gratz

Ray Cammack Shows beckons Fairgoers with bright lights, game booths and rollercoasters in addition to the fair’s traditional attractions. Besides the Fun Zone at the 1999 Los Angeles County Fair, the carnival company sets up amusement parks at the Orange County Fair and the California State Fair. / photo by Ian Gratz

by Danny Craig
Staff Writer

There are few places on this earth where one can experience an eclectic swirl of entertainment that appeals to all audiences, regardless of age, gender, or color. But that is the scene of this year’s Los Angeles County Fair that began at the Pomona Fairplex last Thursday and will continue through the 29th.

Celebrating an all-too-familiar theme of diversity for this year’s event, the fair’s variety of attractions open with many new venues for fairgoers.

The music, exhibits, rides, and overall atmosphere of the fair is for a wide spectrum of visitors.

“It’s not your stereotypical fair,” said Sid Robinson, public relations manager for the Fairplex, “There’s many elements of culture here.”

Visitors will see that Robinson’s view of the festivities is accurate when they find themselves in the Asian Festival area. There, one can see the dragon dancers parading with sequin-covered dragons; sample Asian cuisine; and get his or her face painted in the tradition of the Kabuki theatre.

“It’s not something that you’d typically see here,” said Robinson.

The Asian Festival also offers visitors demonstrations of Oriental massage, as well as a variety of live entertainment.

The theme of diversity continues as one ventures into the Fiesta Market. There, fairgoers may encounter a small-scale marketplace with an intended border-town appeal.

Vendors at the Fiesta Market offer south-of-the-border-style souvenirs and food to all who frequent.

The County Fair has also implemented some innovative attractions to continually attract a diverse crowd.

One of the Fair’s featured amusements this year has been its Dinomation’s Dino Quest interactive experience, where visitors walk inside an elaborately-constructed exhibit that appears to be a ravaged campsite. Soon to follow, onlookers enter a misty swamp scene, filled with life-size prehistoric creatures that tower over them.

“We realized this was something that was pretty neat,” said Robinson, commenting on the exhibit.

The production was a dual effort between Fairplex officials who created the landscape and Dinomation, which provided the robotic inhabitants.

Steve McMurry, a father of one son, and L.A. County Fair regular, was one of thousands of stroller-pushing parents viewing Dino Quest.

“I think it might’ve even been more fun for the adults than the kids,” McMurry said, commenting on the exhibit.

“I think the Dino Quest exhibit is something that hasn’t been seen at any fair before,” said Robinson, adding that the Dino Quest exhibit is indeed intended for all ages.

Aimed to entice the younger element is the Fair’s addition of the Gravity Zone Skate park.

The new facility, consisting of a near two-story tall half pipe ramp and an exhibition street course, has had little difficulty gaining attention. Throughout the day, members of the Got Milk? Skate Tour used the facilities to entertain the crowds by performing “white knights,” 360 degree turns, and many other tricks.

“The ability of these athletes is truly remarkable,” Robinson said of the extremists.

Sergie Ventura, one of the extreme skateboarders on the tour, has been thoroughly content with the situation.

“Being here gives us the chance to hit a lot of different people coming into the Fair,” Ventura said. In regards to the Fair’s new facility, Ventura said, “This park is an excellent tool to promote the sport.”

Robinson explained that, although the Gravity Zone is a professional course, the Fairplex hopes to have it increasingly open to the public as the Fair continues.

According to Robinson, another one of this year’s greatest Fair treasures — along with the Gravity Zone — is its musical guests.

“To go along with our theme of diversity, we have a fairly democratic mix of artists this year,” said Robinson.

The Fair’s upcoming entertainment features span from the Isley Brothers to the Beach Boys and the Moffatts to Clay Walker, along with many of the newer artists in the Top 40 category. Robinson explained that the Fairplex wanted to provide entertainment for a variety of audiences.

With a $20 million budget spent on this year’s Fair, Robinson made it clear that the Fairplex is aiming not for “customer satisfaction, but customer delight … I want families to come, and to enjoy themselves.”

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