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Tradition, sustainable living rub shoulders at fair

  • Matheus Campos of Utah helps Luke Antaree, 11, of Santa Rosa roll an inflatable sphere during the first day of the Sonoma County Fair on Thursday in Santa Rosa. (KENT PORTER / PD)

At the Sonoma County Fair on Thursday, vendors hawked grilled salmon and Caesar salad next to a stand that sold a burger sandwiched between halves of a doughnut. Kids fired pellet guns at targets to win giant stuffed bears, and used mud to make seed balls for planting wildflowers.

This year's fair, which opened Thursday and runs until Aug. 11, offers all the traditional elements — the rides, games, fried food, flower exhibit, horse racing — and is also tinged with a touch of healthy, sustainable living that has taken root in Sonoma County.

“I think we've got it all,” said Fair Manager Tawny Tesconi. “We are showcasing everything there is about living in Sonoma County. There's a huge movement to grow your own food and keeping things local. We're highlighting that.”

Sonoma County Fair Opening Day

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New attractions, such as the butterfly pavilion, cooking demonstrations and a tiny house display, are part of this year's theme, “Home Spun Fun,” a celebration of backyard cookouts, locally grown food and apple pie-Americana.

At the “Greentivities” exhibit, visitors munched on granola samples while taking in composting demonstrations, solar power displays, and a healthy cooking demonstration with TV chef Laurie Figone.

“The intention is to expose people to a sustainable lifestyle that they can follow in their homes,” said Lena Eastes while working the kids booth. “I like that there's room for this at the fair.”

Next to the healthy exhibit, the fair still offers more traditional fried fare like funnel cake, deep fried artichokes, lobster corn dogs and the hamburger with a doughnut for a bun.

After grabbing an ice cream, Robert Olsten of Santa Rosa said he always heads straight for the Hall of Flowers. This year's show, “Backyard Blossoms,” is full of colorful blooms set around miniature houses.

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