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Cloverdale Citrus Fair, 121 years young

  • From left, Fernanda Hernandez, 12, Alejandro Quse, 12 and Giovanni Alvarez, 13, join Marco Gonzalez who won a stuffed banana at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair in Cloverdale, Friday Feb. 15, 2013. The fair runs through Monday. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Cloverdale's Citrus Fair got off to a sunny start Friday, a testament to the small-town atmosphere and community support that have made it one of the longest running fairs in the state.

Now in its 121st year, it's been staged through wars and even the demise of the local citrus industry that brought it into being.

"It's a beautiful weekend. Normally it's raining," said Theresa Smith, a fair board member and 35-year Cloverdale resident.

Cloverdale Citrus Fair

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The fair seems to attract all of the town's 8,700 inhabitants. Schools in Cloverdale closed Friday as the fair kicks off its Presidents Day Weekend run.

The folksy event is known for a diaper derby, talent contest, Citrus Fair Queen Pageant, pygmy goat and poultry shows. "It's the first city activity of the year after a long winter," is how Johnnie Robbins, 78, described its relevance.

"I thoroughly enjoy it," said Connie Headrick of Cloverdale. "It's small. It's local. You see your friends."

Headrick also was drawn to the fair's Polynesian theme this year. "I love the South Pacific. I've been to Tahiti seven times," she said.

She was admiring the Hawaiian quilt patterns in the Arts and Crafts exhibit entered by Mrs. Simoneau's second-grade class at Jefferson School. One of the patterns was made by Headrick's granddaughter, Gracie Bunting, 7, who was out enjoying the carnival rides with her brothers and mother.

The small midway offers a dozen or so rides, including ones with names like "Zipper" and "Ring 'O Fire" that spin, whirl or leave riders momentarily suspended upside down. There are the tell-tale shrieks and screams of teenage thrill seekers. But there are also mellower rides like "Shrek" where kids can climb a cargo net and go down a covered slide.

New this year is a quieter area for smaller children called "Kids Town."


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