At the Fair

I love fairs.  World’s fairs, state fairs, county fairs, trade shows, expos, any kind I can find.  Sunday night, Gail and I went down to Pleasanton to the Alameda County Fair, and had the usual good time.

A big part of fair going is the food.  It’s nothing gourmet, just iconic Americana.  I abjured the immense corn dog this year in favor of the immense sausage with cheese and jalapeño inside.  The bun is more of a roll, and it’s properly toasted.  You can also get an entire roasted turkey leg, but that seems too much like Henry VII drunken feasting for my taste.


Classic county fair food–an enormous sausage with onions and peppers.

People take their kids to the fair.  Lots and lots and lots of kids.  That’s good; I like kids.  This one was sharing our table.  The white stuff on her chin is sugar from whatever dreadful fried pastry covered in sugar she was devouring.


Here’s one peeking through whatever you call what she’s peeking through:


I don't think Grant Wood quite envisioned this.

I don’t think Grant Wood quite envisioned this.

Put something behind a curtain, and you can get kids to line up to see what it might be–even better if it is 5¢ to take a peek.


It’s really just a come on for a big haunted house, but it’s fun to look anyway.

The best part of the fair for me is the “shopping”–the dozens of booths of people selling weird stuff.  Cheap jewelry.  Hot tubs. Kitchen peelers. And always sets of pots and pans.  People take a seat and watch an entire carefully scripted cooking show designed to sell them kitchenware they don’t need that doesn’t cook a tiny bit better than what they have.

This guy could sell sand to the Arabs.

This guy could sell sand to the Arabs.

Real chefs, restaurant chefs, don’t use this crap.  They use simple heavy cast aluminum post anyone can buy in the restaurant supply store.  This is quite literally selling the sizzle, not the steak.

People walk a lot at the fair, and the massage chairs look especially inviting.  I bet they sell a ton of these things.

Once they get the neck massager turned on, you're hooked.

Once they get the neck massager turned on, you’re hooked.

Slightly over the hill singers can make a good living on the county fair circuit.  I saw Johnny Cash and Crystal Gale here once when his career was in a major slump–and the show was great.  The venue is small, the event is very casual and friendly, the show is free with your gate admission and everyone has a good time.

I was able to convince Gail to go because LeAnn Rimes was performing.  General admission is free, but you can get a reserved seat for about $20 if you are early, or $40 if you have to buy it on StubHub.  Still a great deal for 4th row dead center.


LeAnn Rimes in concert in Pleasanton

LeAnn Rimes in concert in Pleasanton

People are so busy making videos (no photo restrictions here!!) you wonder if they actually see the show until they get home and review the tape.

Pictures or it didn't happen is the new mantra.

Pictures or it didn’t happen is the new mantra.

LeAnn put on a great show–but she’s had plenty of practice, since she had her first #1 hit at the age of 13.  She was casual, warm and embracing, singing fast songs and slow ballads and a killer “Me and Bobby McGee”.

Slowing it down for the crowd.

Slowing it down for the crowd.

People used to hold up their lighters and wave them at concerts.  Now they just turn on the LED light on their phones:

This is progress, I think.

This is progress, I think.

One more of the singer:


The show lasts just over an hour.  We loved it.  If you just came to the fair for the entertainment you’d have a great evening at an excellent price.

When it gets dark, the lights come on and make the hot, dry, barren wasteland of the fairgrounds pretty magical.

Lighting is everything

Lighting is everything–even the food stands look exotic.

Everything is changing color constantly.

Everything is changing color constantly.


We put the top down and drove home in the slightly cooler evening air, full of sausage, sore of foot and happy after a pleasant evening and concert.

The Alameda County Fair runs through next weekend.  There is horseracing there, too, if you like to bet on the ponies.  Good entertainment every night, strange food and first rate people watching.  Go have fun.


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