San Mateo County Fair Kicks Off this Weekend

This year's theme is 'Where Tradition Meets Innovation.' Pre-sale tickets save you money and are available through June 8.

Summer is in full swing in San Mateo County, and the fun continues this month with the San Mateo County Fair, opening this Saturday and running through June 17.

The San Mateo County Fair has been a tradition since 1926. This will be the fair's 78th year in its current location at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds, at 1346 Saratoga Ave. in San Mateo.

This year's theme is "Where Tradition Meets Innovation," which organizers explain on the website as this:

"The San Mateo County Fair is excited to use what was great in the past to bring out the best for the future. By keeping the foundation of what the Fair's values were built on, we continually change and grow to make it even better than before, especially with unique, modern ideas to add to the plate.

"Even having the annual Fair allows the community to continue the tradition of the Fair experience for generations to come. The Fair staff cannot wait to show what they have prepared for you!"

Patch has sussed out all the details of this year's County Fair for you. Read below for highlights of this year's carnival rides and attractions, competitions, exhibits and more.

Check Patch again on Friday for a full schedule of this year's concerts and entertainment, and technology games, projects and activities.

A map of the fair's layout is included in the photos section of this article.



The very names of this year's rides can get a person's heart pumping. Ride enthusiasts can look forward to thrill-tastic rides like the Zillerator Roller Coaster, the Thunder Bolt, the Ring of Fire, the Viper and more. For the youngest of fair-goers, kids' rides will include the Wacky Worm, the Looney Tooter Train Ride, the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Merry-Go-Round, the Ghost Party, a ferris wheel, the Lolli Swings, the ever-popular Tea Cups, the Century Carousel, a Shrek ride, the multi-story Giant Slide and many, many more.

To see a complete list of all rides that will be featured at this year's fair, complete with photos of each one, how many tickets each ride costs, and height requirements, visit the Carnival page of the fair's official website.



In addition to tons of local acts on smaller stages throughout the fair, organizers are not disappointing with the celebrity line-up they have for music lovers as well.

Headlining will be the popular '90s group Boys II Men, alongside fair favorites Tower of Power and other groups like Foghat, The Pointer Sisters, Evolution and Night Ranger.

Check Patch on Friday for a complete entertainment line-up including dates and times for each act.



Garden and agriculture enthusiasts will have a wealth of opportunities to show off their skills and compete for awards at this year's County Fair. This year's gardening competition has been expanded to include school gardens, and a special category for "Containerscapes," which are "large, closely planted boxed gardens showcasing herbs, varicolored food crops or colorful flowers." Each container is judged on its "eye-catching" as well as productive features.

As usual, there will also be special categories for floral and plant design.

Community awards will also be given out to local groups who have enhanced public spaces over the past year.

This year's fair will feature a Fine Arts Galleria in which local artists can enter as many pieces of art as they wish for display, such as paintings, quilts and more.

Culinary Arts are becoming more and more popular at fairs across the country as well. This year, the County Fair welcomes Chef Tyler Stone, a recent contestant on Bravo's Top Chef, who is known for his popular children's cookbooks. Chefs and culinary artists from around the region are also invited to display their creations at this year's fair.

This year's Horse Show and Competition will take place at the Park Pacifica Stables in Pacifica. Horse owners can show off their prize animals, and youth between the ages of 9-18 can enter the competition. Categories include showmanship, jumpers, bareback equitation and many more.

Youth and adult authors from across the County have been hard at work writing entries for this year's Literary Arts Contest for quite a while, and now that the fair is upon us, it's their time to show off their works. The theme for the 2012 contest is "Carry the Light," and an anthology of all the poems, essays and short stories submitted this year will be published by the Sand Hill Review Press. Copies will be available for purchase at the fair and on Amazon.com. The artwork on the front and back of the anthology were also selected from contest entries.

The fair's Galleria Stage will feature select readings from this year's contestants, and a book signing will also take place during the fair's dates.

One of the most popular new exhibits at the County Fair in recent years has been the Technology department. This year's fair will feature a full schedule of daily activities young fair-goers can participate in, such as video gaming, making paper towers, designing "penny boats," creating animation in PhotoShop, designing 2-D games and more. Check Patch again on Friday for a full schedule of technology activities.

Sustainable Living exhibits and demonstrations are also a big part of the County Fair. Several local organizations will be sharing projects that show residents how they can reduce, reuse and recycle everyday items to conserve natural resources and better the environment.

Bigger demonstrations will show fair-goers how to build and use solar ovens, how to compost, and more.

As always, the Fair will showcase many youth competitions and exhibits as well. Select youth projects from all of the fair's categories including horticulture, sustainable living, technology, fine and culinary arts and more will be featured in their own exhibits. There will also be several special youth competitions including a Classical Piano Youth Competition, Non-Classical Music and Original Composition Competitions, and more.

There will also be several Youth Livestock exhibits and competitions.

Judges will be hard at work browsing all of the youth exhibits to select this year's winner of The John Kyne Award, given to the all-around exhibitor who exemplifies the criteria of "quality and diverse exhibits at the fair, demonstrated assistance with other exhibitors in the form of teaching, sportsmanship, leadership, attitude, cooperation, and efforts of assistance to the fair."



Satuday and Sunday, June 9-10: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Monday-Friday, June 11-15: 12-10 p.m. On Tuesday, the fair will open at 11 a.m. though the carnival will have special hours of 12-11 p.m. that day.

Saturday and Sunday, June 16-17: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.



The obvious question - how much does it cost?

Tickets and passes are available now by Pre-Sale, and can save you money. Pre-sale prices are good through this Friday, June 8.


Single-Day Admission Passes:

Adults: Pre-sale, $7. After June 8, $10

Juniors (age 6-12): Pre-sale, $5. After June 8, $8.

Seniors (62 and over): Pre-sale, $5. After June 8, $8.

Carnival Passes: Pre-sale, $21. After June 8, $30.

Age 5 and Under: FREE


Seasonal Passes (good for run of fair):

Adults: Pre-sale, $17. After June 8, $22.

Juniors (age 6-12): Pre-sale, $15. After June 8, $20.

Seniors (62 and over): Pre-sale, $15. After June 8, $20.


Parking: $10 per day. No pre-sale or seasonal passes available.

Public Transportation: For information on BART, Caltrain and SamTrans, visit the Maps & Directions page of the official website here.




Special Promotions:

Check the Special Promotions page of the official fair website for daily deals. Here are some special days you should be aware of:

Saturday, June 9: Free admission and parking for the first hour from 10-11 a.m. for Disaster Preparedness Day.

Sunday, June 10: Humane Society Pet Adoption Day - adopt a pet at the County Fair!

Monday, June 11: Bring a donation of new clothes for a foster child and get half off your admission.

Tuesday, June 12: Senior Day! Those 62 and over get in free this day.

Wednesday, June 13: PAL Day. To celebration the Police Activities League, everyone can get into the fair free before 3 p.m. this day.

Thursday, June 14: Canned Food Drive. Get $1 off your admission for each canned food item you bring to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Friday, June 15: Teen Day. Teens 13-19 years old get in for $5 between 12-5 p.m. this day.


For more details on all aspects of this year's San Mateo County Fair, visit the fair website at www.sanmateocountyfair.com.

Check Patch again on Friday for a full line-up of entertainment, concerts and kids' activities.

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