It’s finally open: Fairgoers storm the LA County Fair
It was opening day of the Los Angeles County Fair on Friday, and Yvonne Hernandez couldn’t have been more excited.
The Pomona resident has been a season ticket holder for years. She’s attended for the past 36 years.
“This is a big thing. You wait all year for this,” an animated Hernandez said. “When I was younger, I would come just to have fun and get on all the rides, every day.”
Now she comes to check out all the gadgets, try some food and enjoy some concerts.
For the first time in at least a couple of decades, the L.A. County Fair this year has brought back the concept of the fair theme: “Get Your Kicks…at the LA County Fair.” The multiweek fair ends Sept. 23.
In classic first-day jitters, there was a small computer glitch that held up entrants at the Green Gate, but it was resolved quickly, according to Fair spokeswoman Renee Hernandez.
Sandra Mack, who lives off Route 66 — on Foothill Boulevard in Upland — was pleased to see the historic road getting some recognition.
“It ties in well with the history of Pomona: classic cars and diner foods. That all ties in together,” her daughter Tanisha Mack added.
Sandra and Tanisha Mack were among the dozens of people waiting in line for Gate 1 to open. The pair have been coming to opening day for at least two decades, making sure to always snag a ticket for the first concert of the season.
“This is our annual thing — we do the fireworks and fairgrounds,” Tanisha Mack said. “It’s nostalgic to come to the fair every year.”
The mother and daughter duo were in line to buy their tickets for the concert but said they would be back later in the evening to feast on fair food and take in the scenery.
Sandra Mack acknowledged she has to have a turkey leg at least once during the Fair’s run, while Tanisha Mack likes to indulge in a vanilla ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and topped with walnuts.
As they discussed food options, they recalled their love for curly fries, dubbed Piggly Wiggly fries in Fair-speak.
“It’s exciting,” Sandra Mack said about the day. “It’s the biggest thing that happens in Pomona every year.”
Over at the Fairplex Garden Railroad exhibit was coordinator Rick Bremer, who was excited to show off the Route 66 changes made at the largest miniature railroad display of its kind in the United States.
The additions were meant to complement the attraction on Picnic Hill called, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66 — Explore All 8 States.”
They include a 12-foot tall train station façade entrance and a scene for each state. Upon entering the exhibit, guests will see a traditional train schedule board which includes such additions as miniature versions of the Wigwam Motel and Cadillac Ranch.
The eastside corner was converted into Santa Monica, complete with the pier, Ferris wheel and iconic entry sign.
It was no easy venture, Bremer said. The director of scenes for the Fairplex Garden Railroad and other volunteers met with the Fairplex creative director in January to discuss how this year’s theme would be incorporated.
“This layout was originally designed to be California in 1950s and we add things and upgrade things — but then all of sudden we’re chasing Route 66,” said Jim Busch, operations manager of Garden Railroad.
Good thing most of the volunteers have driven the Mother Road, Busch said.
Since early May, members of the leadership team spent hundreds of hours hand-building the news scenes, which also feature a New Mexico stop with a Roswell-inspired alien spaceship abducting a man, which Bremer was sure would be a crowdpleaser.
“This is most talented group of people I’ve ever had pleasure to work with,” he said, referring to the 78 volunteers.
Temperatures hovered in the lows 90s for most of the opening day, a stark contrast to years past when they reached triple digits. Yvonne Hernandez, who will visit the Fair each day of this year’s run, doesn’t let that bother her. She was planning to stay for bit Friday afternoon but then return on her bike in the evening.
“I enjoy the first day — it’s exciting. Everybody is here and it’s fun,” she said.