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80th annual Sonoma-Marin Fair kicks off in Petaluma

If You Go

What: Sonoma-Marin Fair

When: June 19 to 23; Wednesday and Thursday, noon-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday noon-11 p.m.

Where: 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma

Cost: $18 for adults and $12 for kids under 12, and seniors 65 and older. Includes unlimited rides and entry to all concerts, daily contests

Parking: $5

Featured event: World's Ugliest Dog Contest, Friday at 6 p.m.

More information:www.sonoma-marinfair.org

Brittany and Anthony Perez, visiting the North Bay from New York, had a blast Wednesday at the opening day of the Sonoma-Marin Fair.

The couple enjoyed the attractions, particularly the horses, cows and other animals on display, but what really made their day were the people.

“All the vendors and everyone we’ve talked to just seem to be pleasant,” Anthony Perez said. “We’re enjoying the day. And the ice cream doesn’t hurt.”

Brittany Perez said, “It’s lovely. Just the happiest.”

The 80th annual fair kicked off Wednesday in Petaluma with thousands of people on hand, some enjoying fair favorites like deep-fried Snickers bars, fresh lemonade and turkey legs.

Others opted for the “Oregon berry” cobbler filled with marionberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and boysenberries from Oregon company Willamette Valley Pie.

Michael Compton, who runs the traveling concession stand with his wife, Stephanie, said the dessert, when topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, earned the name “crack in a bowl” from an enthusiastic fan at the Ventura County Fair in Southern California.

The Sonoma-Marin Fair isn’t the largest of the 20 or so fairs the Comptons travel to annually, but it holds a special place in his heart. This year marked the fifth straight year they’ve made the trek to Petaluma.

“This is a smaller fair, but it’s got a really nice hometown feel,” he said. “And the weather is typically beautiful.”

New attractions include a Jurassic Park exhibit called Dinosaur Kingdom and a Kidz Gen mobile science lab. There’s also a “Mooseum” showcasing 80 years of the fair and the 50th birthday of Clo, the recognizable bovine mascot of the Clover Sonoma dairy.

Support from the community and sponsorships paid for by local businesses are critical to keeping the annual fair going, said Christy Gentry, a spokeswoman for the five-day event.

“Local businesses really do ensure these local fairs carry on,” she said.

That includes Petaluma’s Amica Mutual Insurance Co.’s sponsorship of the fair’s premier event, the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest on Friday evening. The owner of the winning canine will get a free trip to New York to appear on the “Today” show, along with $1,500 cash and another $1,500 to donate to an animal shelter.

Competition will be stiff this year, Gentry said, with 18 odd-looking pups entered.

“This year, we have more dogs than we’ve had in years,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or andrew.beale@pressdemocrat.com.

If You Go

What: Sonoma-Marin Fair

When: June 19 to 23; Wednesday and Thursday, noon-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon-midnight Sunday noon-11 p.m.

Where: 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma

Cost: $18 for adults and $12 for kids under 12, and seniors 65 and older. Includes unlimited rides and entry to all concerts, daily contests

Parking: $5

Featured event: World's Ugliest Dog Contest, Friday at 6 p.m.

More information:www.sonoma-marinfair.org

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