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."
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.
"The flower show is the best," Olsten said. "It's always beautiful. I like every bit of it."
For Jared Eborn, a father of three from Salt Lake City, the fair is an affordable outing for the family.
"We got here early because we knew there wouldn't be any lines," he said. "My favorite part is that it's fairly affordable and the kids are entertained."
Five-year-old Margo Fan liked the new butterfly pavilion, where visitors can feed Monarch butterflies.
"I haven't seen them up close before," she said. "I like them because of their pretty color."
Missing from this year's fair is the Mexican rodeo. With two other Mexican rodeos at the fairgrounds in May and September, organizers decided to add a Mexican Fiesta this year with music and dancing to appeal to the Latino community, Tesconi said.
Last year's attendance was 317,000. Tesconi expects to surpass that total this year, even though the fair will be open one fewer day. Good weather brings out large crowds, she said, and the forecast for the next week calls for temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
The fair is open daily, except Monday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. General admission is $10, kids ages 7-12 are $5, and ages 6 and under get in free. All kids 12 and younger get in free Fridays.
You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.