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All's Fair, Especially if It's Fried

After 18 days, L.A. County's annual celebration of baby animals, odd food and midway rides packs it in.

October 02, 2006|Scott Glover | Times Staff Writer

What accounts for the consumption of 6,000 pounds of chicken in less than a month and produces 90 baby animals, including goat triplets and 14 potbellied pigs?

Give up?

It's the Los Angeles County Fair.

After producing these and many other obscure statistics, the 84th annual fair came to a close on Sunday after an 18-day run at the Fairplex in Pomona.

Attendance figures were still being tallied, but the fair has averaged about 1.3 million visitors over the last several years, officials said. It has also grossed about $25 million a year for the nonprofit Los Angeles County Fair Assn., which puts on the event every September at an average cost of $22 million to $23 million. Net profits are reinvested in the fair, a spokeswoman said.

Events on this final weekend included a father-son look-alike contest, a spaghetti-eating contest and a concert by disco diva Donna Summer.

At midday on Sunday, the fairgrounds were packed as rides, food and games vied for attention.

There were rides that rose and rides that dropped. Rides that spun, twisted and twirled. There were free-throw competitions, a rock-climbing wall, a sledgehammer-banging machine designed to demonstrate one's strength (or lack thereof).

There was also an absolutely heart-stopping variety of deep-fried foods. Over the span of the fair, some 24,000 Oreos, 6,000 Twinkies, 4,800 avocados, even 7,000 olives found their way into deep fryers. No official word on what percentage of this was actually consumed, but a spot check by a reporter on Sunday suggested there would be little left over.

For many families, the big draw was a slightly smelly livestock barn, where kids could feed and pet goats.

"They're all hungry," said 4-year-old Julia Craig, who was surrounded by a herd of the bearded beggars. "She's really been looking forward to this," said her dad, Josh Craig of Chino Hills. Craig, vice president of a trucking company, said he felt vaguely nostalgic, recalling that his dad took him to the carnival when he was a kid in Colorado.

For Victor and Chrystina Barba of Hesperia, going to the fair has been a family tradition for more than a decade.

"We always come to the first day and the last," said Chrystina.

A big part of the fun, she said, is that her sons, Marcus and Ian, "come back home with new experiences."

Junior Harris, a 29 year-old purchasing agent from East L.A., attended the fair for the first time Sunday. He was walking the midway with his 3-year-old son, Trey.

Harris said he was surprised by the number of rides and other attractions the fair had to offer.

"It's pretty cool, to tell you the truth," he said. "I didn't think it would be like this. I thought it would be an all-kid thing, but it isn't."

Also strolling the midway on Sunday was a somewhat rarer breed of fair guest, one who shelled out a few bucks to play a game of "chance" and actually won.

He was Chhun Lim, a 36-year-old MTA bus driver.

Lim shot a flawless game of pool Sunday afternoon, sinking the required four balls in a row to claim an oversized stuffed doll for one of his kids.

Sounding like a superstar athlete being interviewed on "SportsCenter" after a big game, Lim was modest. Or pretended to be.

"That was a lucky break," he said, referring to his first stroke of the cue, in which he sunk one of the balls. "Then it was a lucky run."

Lim said he'd be back next year to see if he's lucky again.


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