The Orange County Fair is a few months away, but if you can't wait for an airy stroll along a midway or the smell of corn dogs and livestock, check out Knott's Berry Farm's 15th annual Country Fair.
Through April 26, the Knott's fair offers a slice of country life for just about every taste, including headline entertainment, folk and country bands, square and clog dancing, live shows and demonstrations, old-fashioned games and contests, and parades and special activities for the kids.
Feature entertainment will include the "The Dude Ranch Follies," a music and dance revue with the J. B. Walker Band and fiddle player Harvey Walker (the California Country Music Assn.'s 1984 entertainer of the year), along with the award-winning Flatland Cloggers and world lariat champion Chyrle Bacon, on Saturday and Sunday, April 11 and 12, at 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m.
Comedian Gallagher, famous for his goofy props, crazy stunts and his signature "Sledge-O-Matic" routine, will headline April 17 and 18 at 6 and 8 p.m., and the Famous People Players, a Toronto-based black light theater troupe that uses life-sized puppets of Madonna, Michael Jackson and other stars in a music and comedy revue, will perform Monday, April 13, through April 18 at 1, 3, and 5 p.m. daily in the Good Time Theatre.
In case you missed him last summer at the county fair, you'll have another chance to see Norman (the Bee Man) Gary, an entomologist who locks himself in a plexiglass box and allows hundreds of thousands of the buzzing insects to cover him from head to toe. He will be performing the stunt Saturday, April 11, through April 18 at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. daily in Calico Square.
Also of interest is the fourth annual Western Spring Open Clog Dance Championship, in which the West's finest folk dancers will compete for more than $3,000 in cash, trophies and ribbons, on April 25 and 26 beginning at 11 a.m.
Members of the public can kick up their heels at the Square and Clog Dance Festival April 25 and 26 in the Wilderness Dance Hall, where professional callers will put beginners and experts through the paces from 1 to 5 p.m.
Specialty musical acts include the Americus Civil War Brass Band, a corps of musicians in Civil War uniforms who play authentic music from the era, on Saturday, April 11, through April 19 in Ghost Town. Chaparral, a vocal quartet that specializes in old-fashioned "campfire classics," will play Saturday, April 11, at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. and Monday, April 13, through April 16 at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. in the Wagon Camp.
Thrill seeker Gale Webb will bring her team of BMX in-line skating and skateboard champions to the park Saturday, April 11, and April 18 at 12:30, 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m. and on Sunday, April 12, through April 17 at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. daily.
In Camp Snoopy, children will be treated to a whole barnyard full of activities, shows and contests. The Thomas A. Edison Inventors Workshop, a laboratory in which children can learn about the forces of electricity through a series of nine hands-on experiments, opens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, April 9, and will remain in the seven-acre camp as a permanent attraction.
Other children's activities include goat milking contests and "Kenducky Derby" and "Funny Bunny" races each day beginning at 11:30 a.m. There's also "Snoopy's Spring Parade," featuring the whole Peanuts gang, along with dancing crayons and clowns, daily at 2:30 p.m.
In addition, there is "Snoopy's Animal Friends," a wildlife encounter; "Man's Best Friend and Then Some," an educational show with live animals, and the "Bearly B. There" puppet show.
Other activities include:
* The Calico Contest Corral: A series of old-fashioned contests and games including cow milking at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily; "Fashions by Ewe," in which contestants compete by seeing who can dress a live sheep the fastest, at 11:10 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. daily; boysenberry pie eating contests at 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and "Grandpa's Red Flannels" contests at 1 and 2:45 p.m. daily.
* Sheep-Shearing Demonstrations take place daily at 1:30, 2:45 and 4:30 p.m. (except April 25 and 26) in Calico Square.
* Scott Land Marionettes: A 20-minute musical revue by the renowned puppet theater will be presented at 11:45 a.m., 2:15, 3:30 and 4:35 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, through April 19.
* Live Music: Some of Southern California's best country, bluegrass and folk bands, including Wayne Eames & the Crystal River Band, the Rangers, Western Union, Purple Sky, Bill Erickson & the Bandits, American Made, the Doo Wah Riders and Bobbi & Clyde & the Seaweed Cowboys, play daily at various times throughout the park.
* Appalachian Clog Dancing: Demonstrations by five award-winning California clog dance troupes are given nightly through April 19 in the Wilderness Dance Hall.