Sonoma County Fair

People look at me like I’m crazy. Crowds, overpriced rides, gut wrenching food that taste good… what’s to like about this wallet emptying experience known as the Sonoma County Fair? Everything! Yes, I spent $7 to watch the Piglet ride around on a donkey sized, sedated horse. I happily paid $8 for some fried veggies. And I left with a stomach that was overly full, utterly abused and angry. But you know what; those few hours of innocent, wholesome, cheesy fun is priceless.

Where else are you going to find the smorgasbord of activities and indulgences that a fair provides? From the minute you walk through the gates, your senses are assaulted on all fronts. Whether its the ear piercing sound of kids being tossed around on a rickety old roller coaster or the smell of garlic fries and bacon wrapped hot dogs tickling your sense of smell, the fair is an experience to loose yourself in. And that’s exactly what me and the family did. And for the Piglet, this was his first real fair experience. He made the most of it.

As with all well rounded fair experiences, we invested in some overpriced carney rides, inhaled the pollinated air at the flower exhibit (the Piglet was impressed) and paid our respects to the future food exhibit (aka. mooh, baah, oink oink).

I think a favorite pastime for all fair goers is the food. No reason to deny it. Fair food is awesome in a sinister way. It’s like a food court on carney crack. And speaking of crack… corn has become the new crack for the Piglet. Corn in any form, stands no chance of survival in his greasy little hands. So just get out of the way and watch the magic happen.

Our culinary tour started with a quick walk by of the eateries near the flower exhibit hall and racetrack. Knowing we’d be back for gyros, we placed a mental bookmark and moved on. I had heard about the donut padded burger, aka heart attack on a plate, aka the Krispy Kreme Burger and I thought it best not to test out my coronary fortitude (served with a cold shot of Pepto and a Lipitor I might reconsider). We snagged up a plate of giant, fried zucchini, a variety of BBQ, the ubiquitous corn on the cob, a crapload of napkins and the must-have gyro and headed for the picnic area, where the carnage ensued.

The crisp zucchini was actually a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t the overcooked, greasy veggie I was expecting. It actually had a nice crunch and snap to it and the batter was light and crispy. The vendor totes their famous fried artichokes, which I might have to try next time. The corn, when unwrapped, showed it had been bathing in a sauna of butter and while tasty, it was missing out on some salt and maybe a little chili kick. That being said, it did not stop the “Corn Eliminator/ aka Piglet” from making short work of that cob. The gyro always taste good and this time was no exception. Maybe we’re just deprived of gyros here in Sonoma County? Maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t have a giant, twirling spit of lamb spam in my kitchen? Maybe it was the ambiance of a checkered table cloth? Or maybe these pitas filled with meat and Tzatziki sauce are really just that good. Either way, that was a favorite of everyone.

The disappointment of the day was the BBQ from the vendor, oddly located next to the mechanical bull. I think the mechanical bull actually had more meat on it than either of our sandwiches, which were sparingly filled with a brisket of sorts and a piece of under cooked chicken. The loads of BBQ sauce they heaped on couldn’t hide the lack of meat or taste that was residing in the stale roll. Where the BBQ missed the mark, the “dip everything in chocolate” ice cream vendor squarely hit the target. A cone full of swirled chocolate and vanilla is pretty tough to beat. Especially if you’re two years old.

If a successful day at the fair is measured by the worn out smile of a young child, then I’d say we’d did pretty well. The fair is a trip down memory lane to a simpler times. It’s an escape from the technological clutter in our lives. And it reminds us that you don’t need much more than some tasty food, good people and an appetite to have a great time.


  • Reply August 22, 2013


    One of the few things I miss about Sonoma County is the fair. The Pasta King’s pesto was my dinner of choice, followed by a funnel cake. The Hall of Flowers always impressed, and we even spend a fair amount of time (see what I did there?) in Vendor World, where hawkers sold everything from knives to soap to unidentifiable objects that promised to make life better.

    Having said that, barbecue, my friend, must be truly experienced and appreciated here in the South. From Texas to the Carolinas, there is a cornucopia of epicurean delight to suit every taste preference and pocketbook.

    • Reply August 27, 2013

      The Epicurean Pig

      The Pasta King is a classic. The fair would not be the same without that place. And Southern BBQ… I’m ready for it. Just got back from Kansas City and a BBQ competition out there. I’d love to see the differences. I should have a post or two up soon about the trip. Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply