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Collection of Wonders : Highlights of the 48th annual San Fernando Valley Fair include hand-carved carousel horses, an aerial stunt show and an earthquake exhibit.

July 15, 1994|R. DANIEL FOSTER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; R. Daniel Foster is a regular contributor to The Times

BURBANK — Back in 17th-Century Europe, collecting curiosities was fashionable. In 20th-Century San Fernando Valley, the collecting continues, but now the oddities can be found at fairs--specifically, the 48th annual San Fernando Valley Fair, to be held Thursday through July 24 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

This year's crop of "marvels and wonders" as they were termed three centuries ago, includes exhibits that feature a giant Monopoly board, hand-carved carousel horses, a space craft, horses that appear to glide rather than trot, and a man who performs a daring routine perched on a 100-foot pole.

There's even an earthquake exhibit, although most in the region would say such an event was neither marvelous or wondrous.

More than 700 exhibitors will show their wares at this year's fair, whose theme is "We've got your fun covered."

"All entry fees have been dropped for those who wanted to participate," said Georgia Cluver, spokeswoman for the event. "We wanted to open it up to more people in the Valley."

Although the fair has held horse shows in the past, it hired a professional last year to expand the event. Bob Drennan annually presents about 20 horse shows. In 1992, he presented the elite Volvo World Cup Jumping Finals in Del Mar.

"This year we're showcasing the spectacular," said Drennan, whose free show is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. "Our biggest draw will be the Tennessee Plantation Walking horse, the smoothest-gaited horse, ever. They don't trot, but do a flat walk that's more of a glide."

The horse show includes 50 other events in the air-cooled Equidome on the grounds.

Members of the 4-H, Future Farmers of America and other groups will compete in the halter, English, Western and trail horse divisions.

Other animal-related presentations include pig races, a junior livestock auction, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, a petting zoo, a sheepherding show at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday and the Bull-O-Rama bull-riding event at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Creations built by Valley youths also are a large part of this year's fair.

Each year the Patrick Henry Middle School in Granada Hills presents "Math-O-Rama," an event designed to quicken children's interest in mathematics.

The contest challenges students to build models twice to 10 times the normal size of everyday items. This year, large-scale replicas of a box of doughnuts, silverware, a calculator and a Monopoly board will be on display.

"We have a Nestle's Crunch bar, and we did have a giant Hershey's bar, but it didn't make it through the earthquake," said Sheila Berman, the school's math chair. "One year we had a young man replicate himself out of strips of sheet metal."

The school's creations can be found in the Youth Education Pavilion, which also features a craftsman who restores and builds carousel horses.

Jess Zavala, who has worked on his craft for 10 years in Piru, will carve miniature and full-scale horses at the fair.

The pavilion also contains the fair's earthquake exhibit, with a facade that incorporates a fault line and an interior that harbors photos and a video of news coverage of the Jan. 17 catastrophe.

Scaled-down models of Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Lab projects will lend a futuristic tone to the pavilion, Cluver said.

A model of the space probe Galileo, which is in position to observe comet Shoemaker-Levy's crash into Jupiter soon, will be on display. Models of imaging radar equipment used in shuttle missions and the wide-field planetary camera used to correct vision problems in the Hubble Space Telescope also can be studied.

The fair's grandest aerial feature, however, will be Sway Pole Man, featuring aerialist Bruce Anderson, whose routine several times a day begins on a stationary trapeze welded to a 70-foot pole.

Anderson then climbs to a higher pedestal, where he performs a Marine sword and drill act. For a finale, Anderson inches up to the 100-foot mark to perform a headstand on his pole, which sways precariously.

The fair's free entertainment kicks off with The Tokens, who are known for their 1960s songs, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and "Tonight I Fell in Love." They'll perform at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Other free entertainment includes the Richard Allen Swing Band and other bands, marionettes, magicians, juggling and comedy acts.

Commercial exhibits (offering for sale "the slicer dicers, gift items and stuff like that," said Cluver) will be on view, as well as carnival rides, food booths and exhibits on home arts and crafts, fine arts, photography and gardening.

Where and When

What: The 48th annual San Fernando Valley Fair.

Location: Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 480 Riverside Drive, Burbank.

Hours: Noon to 10:30 p.m. Thursday and July 22, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. July 23 and 24.

Price: $5 general; free for ages 11 and younger. On Thursday, those 55 and older and 15 and younger are admitted free until 6 p.m. Parking on the grounds is $3. There is also a free bus that shuttles fair-goers in from satellite parking lots.

Call: (818) 373-4500; parking information, (818) 373-4516.

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