Nevada County Fair offers fun for whole family this week |

Nevada County Fair offers fun for whole family this week

Ed Scofield will breathe a little easier on Aug. 14. The five-day Nevada County Fair will have ended the night before, and he will be getting ready for a canoe trip down the Missouri River with his son, son-in-law and grandson.

The fair’s chief executive officer will not have to be concerned with whether all the garbage is picked up or if a toilet is plugged at the fairgrounds.

But until then, these will be only two of Scofield’s endless concerns as he focuses on the annual fair, which started Wednesday and continues through Sunday.

For the next week or so, Scofield will have visions of cotton candy, Ferris wheel rides and thousands of visitors at the fairgrounds on McCourtney Road in Grass Valley.

About 125,000 spectators of all ages attended last year’s fair. That number doesn’t include the thousands of area residents who attend as volunteers or exhibitors.

“The fair’s successful because of the trees, the ambience and because the community is still very involved in this fair. Very few fairs have as many nonprofit organizations manning the food booths. It’s a major fund-raiser for many of these groups,” Scofield said Monday.

“We issue 2,500 passes for people working the food booths. Beyond that, we have 200 paid seasonal employees, the bulk of whom work just for the fair week. That doesn’t include people in the other organizations like the California Highway Patrol, the political organizations and the commercial vendors from around the state,” he added.

Scofield estimates 25 nonprofit organizations – including Music in the Mountains, Grass Valley Host Lions, Truckee Rotary and several fire department auxiliaries – volunteer in the food booths at Treat Street, the Wine Pavilion and the beer booths.

Many former county residents will return to visit with family and friends and attend the fair, Scofield said.

“It’s like a reunion. They come back to their roots,” Scofield added.

This year’s theme, “Sentimental Journey,” looks at the area’s past 50 years. The theme is carried out through music from the 1940s to ’90s and photos, cutouts of personalities and competitions tied to the various decades.

Favorite attractions return

Expect the fair to be much the same as last year’s.

“A lot of it is the same,” Scofield admitted. “We know we have a winner so we don’t like to change it that dramatically. We like to just change things a bit to keep things new.”

Most of the favorites remain. For instance, there’s the petting zoo near the Livestock Area. Long lines of people of all ages typically wait to pet a sheep, potbellied pig, miniature horse and other infant animals.

Cook’s Racing Pigs return after a few years’ hiatus. Daily show times are 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The fair features exhibits and competitions on just about everything, from art to baked goods to photography to livestock, Scofield said. There’s also something to keep visitors busy every minute of the fair – a carnival and free entertainment on several stages, agricultural and crafts demonstrations, karaoke and even a blacksmithing demo.

This year’s area entertainers include juggler Izzy Tooinsky and hypnotist Michael Mezmer, who both come back every two years; Solid Air; JM Jazz; Orfia Nelson and The J Street; Inside Strait; Country Roads; The Zookeepers; Boyz Nite Out; Auburn Drumline; Kris Skidmore; Second Wind; Kimberly Bass; Blues Patrol; Steel Breeze; Tommyknocker Cloggers; Nathan Owens’ Motown and Soul Revue; Sierranaders; Mountain Misery; Bad Moon Rising and Cousin Jack ‘n’ Jenny.

Competitions include the 12th annual Cheesecake Contest on opening day, Salsa Square-Off on Aug. 11, Chocoholics Contest on Aug. 12 and the fair’s sixth annual Barbershop Quartet Competition on Aug. 13.

There are more than 10,000 entries in the competitions. More than $50,000 in prizes is awarded to exhibitors in first, second, third and sometimes fourth place.

New events

From Barn Tours to a Battle of the Bands, the fair will also include first-time events.

Barn Tours will show the role animals play in everyday life and provide trivia on farm animals. Barn Tours travels year-round to fairs and livestock shows in the United States, Canada and Australia. Each tour is customized to the age level of its spectators and questions they ask.

Barn Tours last about 45 minutes and will be featured eight hours a day, all five days of the fair.

The Battle of the Bands was created this spring by the Junior Fair Board to increase the participation of area youth at the fair.

Last month, fair board representatives selected six finalists among 15 Nevada County bands to compete in a battle Saturday night at the Dance Pad. The groups are Covenant of Crows, Driven, FOE, Generic, Invention Five and Mulletomic.

Fair office assistant Greg Kerr said the bands will cover all styles of rock ‘n’ roll.

The bands will compete for a first-place prize of $200 and second-place prize of $100.

Monster trucks and more

Three motor-sport events are set for Aug. 12 and 13.

The Monster Trucks and Tuff Trucks will race on Aug. 12. All-terrain vehicle racing, including quads – four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles, buggies and motorcycles – will be held on the morning of Aug. 13.

The Grass Valley Destruction Derby will close the fair’s arena events the evening of Aug. 13.

The Monster Truck Show/Tuff Truck and Destruction Derby have sold out in the past. Advance tickets are available at the fair office.

Other fair highlights include karaoke nightly at the Special Events Tent; square dancing on the Dance Pad Aug. 13 with caller Joe Saltel; and a marionette theater on wheels at various times all five days of the fair. The Puppets and Players Little Theater from Mission Viejo will present the ancient art of marionettes with marionettes, hand puppets and live performers on The Green.

For the 18th year, Butler Amusements will bring 30 rides and 25 games to the fair. Among the rides at the carnival midway will be the 90-foot-plus Giant Wheel and the Italian-imported Footloose, which turns riders upside down high in the air. The kiddie ride section this year will be smoke-free and feature rides like the Safari Train.

Fairgoers can try games like flipping a rubber frog into a moving dish, bursting balloons, pitching dimes and quarters, and tossing rings to win an assortment of stuffed animals.

Then there’s the usual trimmings that make the fair complete: livestock exhibits, vendors’ booths, the food offerings on Treat Street and endless socializing.

For the third year, the California State Fair sponsors the Nevada County Fair’s opening day. Free tickets to the California State Fair will be given to anyone buying an adult ticket to the Nevada County Fair on Wednesday.

Special days include Kids’ Day on Thursday (children 12 and under will be admitted free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.); and People With Disabilities on Aug. 11 (admission is free for a person with a disability and one guest).

A special carnival price of $12 for unlimited rides between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. is available on Aug. 10 and 11.

Prices for arena attractions and carnival ride packages vary. All other entertainment is included in the fair’s admission price.

Fair Facts

What: Nevada County Fair

When: Wednesday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 13, 10 a.m. – midnight

Where: 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

Admission: $4 adults, $1 children ages 6-12, free children under 6.

Info: (530) 273-6217 or

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