Guest Editorial: San Benito County Fair

BOUNCING AROUND: A group of kids try their luck at the ping-pong toss at last year's San Benito County Fair. Event organizers expect nearly 20,000 attendees at this year's fair.

By Jennifer Coile, President, Board of Directors, 33rd District Agricultural Association

People ask me, “Why go to the county fair?” Easy answer: “Because it is fun!” You can mingle with your neighbors, dance, eat once-a-year foods, listen, learn about local services, get hypnotized, meet local business owners, scream with joy on the carnival rides and admire the achievements of our community’s youth and craftspeople. It’s an American tradition going back to the first agricultural fair in Litchfield, Massachusetts in 1815.

I have enjoyed the San Benito County Fair since I moved to Hollister in 2001. I think we have the most beautiful and comfortable fairgrounds in the world, with cool afternoon breezes off the ocean in Santa Cruz and oodles of shade under fabulous trees.

Some have told me they like the scale of our fair because it’s easy to see just about everything in less than a day. An urban person like me is stimulated learning about several dozen breeds of chickens in the poultry building, especially when I know some of the children who raised them. I don’t feel the need to view three acres of chickens like at the larger fairs—in fact, that many makes me too tired to go and see the pigs, rabbits and goats.

When Governor Brown appointed me to the board of the county fair in   2012, I decided my personal mission was to inspire more people to come to the fair. We started free shuttle service—thank you county express—the local talent stage, art activities, a baby station for a little rest from the noise while nursing or changing diapers and new categories for competitions.

Don’t worry if you aren’t in 4-H or FFA, you can enter a video you made on your smartphone, or write a poem in English or Spanish.

When you arrive at the fair, you will be handed a daily schedule (also online at sanbenitocountyfair.com). Special events included in the ticket price: Thursday night country music concert (7:30 p.m.–9 p.m.), Quilts of Honor Ceremony of handmade quilts presented to local veterans (Saturday 10 a.m.), Cowboy Church (Sunday 11 a.m.), Taste of San Benito with samples of local drinks and foods (Sunday 11 a.m.–1 p.m.), the Charros and Banda at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Grandstand and the Agriculture-Horticulture Auction at 4 p.m. Sunday, a scholarship fundraiser sale of fruits and vegetables donated by local generous farmers.

Three of my grandparents were born overseas. I’m conscious that some county residents did not grow up with the tradition of entering or attending a county fair. We offer bilingual entertainment such as Twinkle Time, Aztec dancers and Los Freddy’s and translated fact sheets about how to enter the fair.

This is your county fair. The board of nine volunteers want to hear from you and any comments and ideas that would add to your enjoyment. I hope to meet you at the fair!

 

San Benito County Fair starts Thursday, September 28 at Bolado Park Event Center, 9000 Airline Hwy, Tres Pinos.

 

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