goats, sonoma county fairIt’s County Fair time and Sonoma County has one of the best: it’s firmly focussed on rural and agricultural pursuits and it’s got a character that’s all Sonoma. But I’m convinced one of the reasons I always have such a good time at the Sonoma County Fair is that I approach it like a military operation. I have a strategy. You have to. Otherwise, you just wander around getting overwhelmed and, before you know it, you’re wolfing down funnel cakes and trying to win a plush banana by throwing a penny into a cup.

So the first order of business is not to start the fair on an empty stomach. That means a quick reconnaissance of the available food offerings. This being Sonoma, the choices are surprisingly healthy for fair food. But I always end up ordering in one of the same two places. The Mexican Village offers excellent and authentic Mexican food — heavy on the fish tacos, cerviche and agua fresca.

turkey legs, barbecue, Willie Bird

Today, I chose my other perennial favorite: Sonoma’s famous Willie Bird Organic Turkey Farm Stand. Featuring barbecue, turkey sausage and whole turkey legs. Yum.

Hunger sated, the next order of business is to tour the Livestock Area. Since formulating my theory last year that the best looking kids have the best looking livestock, I’m obsessed with testing my hypothesis. In today’s beef cattle judging, I picked out the cutest kids and correctly predicted the prize winners in every round. It was a particularly exciting show today, as all the animals were misbehaving.

bull at sonoma county fair

This little charmer (and I mean the kid) was being dragged all over the ring by his bull. I guess good manners don’t matter. Little cutie won the Grand Champion ribbon.

Next stop: the Adult and Junior Craft Halls. Here is where Sonoma’s Fair really excels. In addition to the quilts, jams, cakes and pies are so many categories of entries that pretty much anyone who enters is guaranteed some sort of ribbon. The trick is to create your own category.

folk art, Sonoma County Fair

Case in point: this sculpture made of vintage beer cans, feathers, bedsprings, a washboard and abalone shells. Shall we file this under Priceless American Folk Art?

flag, shell casings

Ditto for the American flag made of shotgun shells. This certainly sends a message. And it won a ribbon.

Then on to the Hall of Flowers, where various landscape architects had been drafted to depict representations of the various terroir areas of Sonoma County. Hmmm. Lots of delicate flowers such as orchids that would never survive in Sonoma’s heat. I think I may need to propose John the Baptist and Louis for an entry next year. However, there was one stand-out: which happened to be NovaVine, the place where we bought our grape rootstock.

bacchus, sonoma county fair

They’d recreated a small vineyard with a Bacchus fountain spewing real Merlot. Excellent!

Ah Folks, there is so much more. But have no fear. The County Fair goes on through next week and into next weekend. I’m going again tomorrow and probably again mid-week. If you are in the neighborhood, get yourself over to the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds. This is the one fair you can’t afford to miss.

My pix from today’s Fair experience here.