The California State fair will soon be done for this 2011 year which has been the second go round of early fair dates starting in July. There is still time to partake of the educational joys that are fun for both children and adults. Animals are a standing favorite and the livestock area continues to feature a nursery with newborns and opportunities to see sheep being sheered, cows being milked, and hay being chomped. While ranchers and farmers deal with these tasks on a daily basis, our urban orientation makes a peek at the common animals a special joy. While Gramma may have fed and, well, sometimes cooked a few chickens in her day, fewer and fewer California residents come face to face with live farm animals and only know about an egg or a gallon of milk as it appears in the grocery market. The State Fair provides an opportunity to refamiliar ourselves and our children with the rural life that most of us left behind only one or two generations ago. The old highways that run through Sacramento are now scenic routes that mom talks about from time to time just like gramma talks about the chickens and the cows.
While rural communities have dwindled, wildlife has also lost a great deal of its clean and natural habitat. The State Fair also offers educational interactive fun that allows people to see some of these animals up close while listening to heart-motivated volunteers like Christine Adams and Sallie Reynolds talk about “Baggins” the burrowing owl or “Grasshopper” the Swainson’s hawk. Its a true pleasure to be able to see these birds sitting on gloved hands in the open air rather than having to peak through zoo bars or sit on a couch indoors watching a televised nature show. The California Raptor Center makes an annual appearance at the fair and also tours local schools and other facilities. You can find out more about the Rapor Center here.
Other educational fun is offered by the American River Water Educational Center where you might hear about how the water we drink today is the same naturally recycled water that the dinosaurs long ago drank. Wow and ewww say the children. Nearby is also a scat board where one can try to match up the appropriate box of animal boo-boo to the pictured animals. Ewww again say the children while they eagerly try their scat matching skills. The playful forms of educating interested fairgoers is broad and delightful. For those who just want thrills, the rides await at the other end of the fair grounds. Between them are the exhibit buildings full of arts and crafts which also offer educational stories and demonstrations. If you are feeling dull but you don’t want to miss the final days of the fair, an easy fix is to get one of those fresh, cold lemonades that come with free refills, head on over to one of the simple educational offerings throughout the fair and just listen or sit down and make a water cycle bracelet or get a child’s tattoo. Adults are allowed too and being a little kid-like is great for giving yourself a little energizing boost.