A Day at the Los Angeles County Fair

Genie Davis October 4, 2011 No Comments


When you think of an old fashioned country fair, you probably think of the Rodger’s and Hammerstein musical State Fair, or Charlotte’s Web, or a rolling field somewhere in the midwestern United States. You may not immediately think of going to a country fair in – Los Angeles. And yet LA’s fair is one of the largest in the U.S., and if you’re visiting the city of Angels in September, or if you live in Southern California, take the kids! Take the whole family! There will be something for everyone to enjoy.

Animal Pavilions and Races

World's Tiniest Horse LA County Fair

We got a kick out of the world's tiniest horse - a side show attraction at the LA County Fair.

Every year you’ll find cute little baby pigs, sheep, calves, and chicks in the animal pavilions. And bunnies. Lots of bunnies. Small children can spend a long time watching bunnies – and you’d be surprised by how pleasant a time you can have watching the different colors and breeds while they twitch their noses and shake their tiny tales. There’s bigger scale animal action to be found too – in the race track, there’s weiner dog races. That’s right, dauchsaunds attempting to make like thoroughbreds with often hilarious results. In a smaller arena there are pig races. The kids loved the squealing and the circling. Better yet was watching sheep shearing, cow milking, and chicken wrangling. Don’t ask me quite what the latter entailed, but you basically herd them in one area of an enclosure, luring them with chicken feed. There was even the world’s tiniest horse, reputedly – although this attraction took an extra $1 to observe.

Jurassic Pavilion

This year, there was a different kind of beast entirely in the Jurassic Pavilion, where dinosaur animatronics that rivaled the critters on display at Universal Studios filled a massive hall. Outdoors, one could visit monkeys and parrots, get a Smokey the Bear hat, view costumed cowpokes cooking stew and learn about the differences between donkeys, mules, and horses.

Jurassic Pavilion Los Angeles County Fair

Along with the pigs and chicks and sheep - dinosaurs at the LA County Fair!

Thrill Rides and Entertainment

Kiddie rides abound from mini-coasters and spinning cars and planes to a tot-size Ferris Wheel. Older kids and adults can thrill to – or watch others thrill to – a bungee jump from the top of a very tall crane, explore several massive haunted houses, or rock out on a large tilt-a-whirl.

One of our favorite fair stops was at the surprisingly uncrowded railroad town at one end of the massive complex. Here you can climb on and off engines, passenger cars, and box cars from a variety of eras; a costumed engineer in one let our kids pull the steam whistle and attempt to man the heavy iron steering wheel. If you’re interested, train history and engineer lore will be gladly shared.

Entertainment included a traveling circus with acrobatics taking place right over our heads, and evening concerts ranging from Spanish to Country to Rock. And of course the kids are welcome everywhere – the stroller set, teens, parents, and school age kids alike will all have plenty to do, listen to, and see at the fair.

Los Angeles County Fair Animals

Our little ones loved seeing other little ones at the LA County Fair.

Shoppers will find plenty of exhibit halls to cruise for the latest bargains and home-grown business ideas from teeth whitening products to jewelry. The kids will be more interested in the collectibles such as super hero lunch boxes and old fashioned mechanical banks and window displays. There’s an exhibit hall devoted to kids science projects, and one to table settings ranging from Harry Potter themes to Christmas trees. Everywhere we went the equivalent of museum docents were at hand ready to explain the workings or history or a turn of the century mechanized window display, throw a pot on a pottery wheel, or craft a wire sculpture while we watched.

Fair Food

There’s the typical unhealthy but fun fair-food too – cotton candy, deep fried watermelon – which we were hoping someone would order so we could see what it looked like, deep fried twinkies, cheese burgers – you name it, its there and its deep fried. But there were healthier tasty choices too. We loved the fresh roasted corn, available with or without butter; the fresh lemonade; and a wood fired pizza made to order from a long line of ovens set up beneath the grandstand. We chose the vegetable with its crisp thin crust.

Tips and Hints

I’d long been daunted by the location of the fair, at an intersection of freeways approximately forty five minutes from downtown Los Angeles and my part of the suburbs. Don’t go at rush hour on a weekday and you’ll find the commute surprisingly easy; there’s plenty of parking and a tram to take you from your car onto the fair grounds when you arrive.

We were able to pick up discounted tickets through Ralph’s grocery stores; discounts are also available if you take public transportation (Metrolink) to the fair grounds. Bargain amusement ride wrist bands are available on certain days, check the fair’s official web site to pick the package that’s best for you and your family.

If you want to stay overnight, there’s the Sheraton Fairplex in Pomona sprawled at the edge of the fair grounds that offers fair packages with weekend stays. But out of town visitors, remember that Los Angeles and all its urban delights is just a short drive away. You might feel like you’re near an Iowa corn field when you’re watching the pink piglets race or touching the soft wool off a freshly shorn sheep, but swing back onto Interstate 10 or the 57 Freeway – depending on how you leave the fairgrounds – and you’ll get a glimpse of the iconic LA skyline reminding you that your sojurn at the country fair was not that far from the bright lights of Hollywood.

avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: Reviews, Tips and Hints

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