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Fair’s got the ticket to summer fun

Fatty food lovers, rejoice! Event has new vendors, shows to please a crowd
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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What: Placer County Fair
Where: 800 All America Blvd., Roseville
When: 5-11 p.m. Thursday; 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; noon to 11 p.m. Sunday
Ticket prices and more info: placercountyfair.org or 786-2023

If you’re on a diet, stay away from Jack Calloway.
Not content with ordinary hot dogs, he slings sausages wrapped in a spiral-cut potato, then deep-fries ’em and stabs in a stick.
The taste? It’s 100-percent fair fabulous.
“That’s what fairs are all about,” Calloway said of the invention, called a “Twister Dog” (a potato-only option, called the “Tornado Potato,” is also available). “People want the cardiac-arrest corn dogs.”
Calloway was one of several vendors and exhibitors setting up early this week in preparation for the 72nd annual Placer County Fair, which kicks off Thursday with the crowning of Miss and Teen Placer County.
“It is not something that should be a daily diet,” admits Brock Wimberley, the fair’s chief executive.
The food, of course, is just a part of what’s slated to roll into the Placer County Fairgrounds over the next four days.
Organizers are hoping additions like mixed martial arts, NASCAR-level racing, a revamped exhibit hall, a live shark show and extended hours will bring out the crowds this year, after 2008 saw attendance decrease.
“Most people, with the economy, are planning on spending more time close to home,” Wimberley said. “You can’t beat a local fair.” Drawing on the popularity of mixed martial arts, organizers say one of the big attractions will be Validation, a fight night featuring 15 mixed martial arts bouts. It climaxes with local fan favorite Rick Randolf defending his Gladiator Challenge heavyweight belt against slugger Dave Huckabe.
“It’s not something you’d commonly see at a fair, but MMA is a popular growing event and we’re trying to bring in some new attractions,” Wimberley said.
Of course, there’s plenty of classic fair fun, he added. Rides with names like Himalya, Zipper and Gravitron will line the midway, while a ferris wheel can handle the less iron-stomached crowd.
On Monday, fair workers were putting finishing coats of paint on buildings, erecting shade structures and generally polishing up for the party. More than 100 rose plants were installed in honor of the fair’s theme – “100 years of rails and roses.”
Inside the barns, members of local 4-H clubs were prepping the corral to receive a Noah’s Ark’s worth of farm critters.
Lincoln’s Madison Goss was laying down hay for her four lambs, a steer named Curly Joe and heifer called Liz, all of which she’s raised from babies.
“It’s worth it because you’re coming out here to show other people you can do it,” the 10-year-old member of Flatlands 4-H said during a break.
Inside the exhibit hall, fair staffers Toby Riolo and Carolyn Rhoades were arranging a bevy of locals’ handiwork, all categorized and judged.
Among the more eyebrow-raising were a corral made out of popsicle sticks, North American animals rendered in origami and a metal wedding cake.
And to take it all in, fair officials are giving attendees some extra time this year.
Friday and Saturday, the event will stay open until 2 a.m. as an insurance policy against the heat. Wimberley said several scorcher days last year kept some people away.