Bubble fun, fried food paradise stokes crowds at final day of Nevada County Fair
Funnel cakes might be Cat Parkhouse’s idea of paradise — and he works out all year so he can visit his little corner of heaven, guilt-free, at the Nevada County Fair.
“There’s something about a deep-fried funnel cake dusted with powdered sugar and strawberries that makes my little heart go pitty-pat,” said Parkhouse, a firefighter-EMT for the Rough and Ready Fire Department. “It’s probably a cardiac arrest.”
Parkhouse, who was manning the Rough and Ready soft drink booth (“We need new equipment for the rescue squad — our 1983 Chevy Suburban’s not cutting it anymore”) was one of thousands enjoying Sunday’s last day of the five-day fair.
Although turnout totals won’t be available until later in the month, fair publicist Wendy Oaks said sellout attendance at arena events like Saturday’s Monster Trucks extravaganza leads her to believe that this year’s numbers will be very healthy.
“The crowds have been good and steady,” Oaks said. “We’re very pleased.”
Sunday’s junior livestock auction had 250 animals registered and was expected to raise close to last year’s total take of $365,000, Oaks said. Money raised goes for Nevada County youth scholarships and trade programs.
On Friday, the live Ag Mechanics Auction included 58 items and raised $38,000 for projects created by Nevada Union and Bear River high school students, she added.
“I just love the atmosphere — the smells, the dust, everything,” said Andi Sommer of Alta Sierra, who was attending Sunday with her parents, Chris and Carol Craig, who were at the fair for the first time after moving up to Nevada County from Southern California a year ago.
“I just had a corn dog,” said Chris Craig. “It was awesome.”
Sommer, a staff member at Riebe’s Auto Parts in Nevada County, said she volunteered to work at Sunday night’s Demolition Derby, which was brought back this year by Nevada County Rotary Clubs after a year’s hiatus.
“It’s pretty awesome,” she said of the derby. “They’ve made it all about the veterans.”
Sommer’s boyfriend, Josh Howell, said he “really likes running into people that I only run into once a year, here.”
Ross Thomas Durham, 7, of Grass Valley, said he used a special technique to win the “Minute to Win It” contest where kids move M&M’s with a straw to create a “Happy Face” on a paper plate.
“You try to hold your breath for a long time,” said Ross of his secret process. “Then you color with the M&Ms as if you were drawing with a pencil.”
Ross’s brother Harry, 4, came in either second or third — but no matter, everyone gets a prize, said Wendy Willoughby, who ran a games and special events tent at the fair. Almost all the prizes are donated by the community, she said.
“I say to everyone, ‘Come out and play with us,’” said Willoughby, a perky leader who is on staff at the fairgrounds. “That’s what we get to do all day is play.”
It was hard to tell who was more excited about Walking on Water’s big plastic bubbles — Darci Vannberg of Grass Valley or her son, Adam, 8, who was inside one of the bubbles, rolling around on top of a small pond.
Vannberg, who was snapping photos of Adam inside the bubble, said it “looks like he’s having an awful lot of fun.
“I wish they would make these things bigger, so adults could fit in, too,” she said, with real fervor.
“He just really wanted to do it,” Vannberg added. “So we said, ‘Why not, the fair’s only here once a year.’”
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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