Bugging out: Roach racing, insect tasting at the Fair (VIDEO) | TheUnion.com

Bugging out: Roach racing, insect tasting at the Fair (VIDEO)

Know & Go

Aug. 12-16

Hours: Fair open from 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Exhibit buildings open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sunday until 9)

Carnival opens 11 a.m. daily

Location: Nevada County Fairgrounds

11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

Parking: $6 per car

Free shuttle from Nevada Union High School from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $9, seniors $6, children (6-12) $4; Carnival bracelet for unlimited rides any one day: $28; Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.NevadaCountyFair.com

Special Discount Days

Thursday: Kids 12 and under get free admission from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Friday: Day for People with Disabilities (Disabled persons and one guest get in for free from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Saturday: Salute to our Armed Services Day (All active duty and retired military who show ID get free admission)

Sunday: Community Day: All fair-goers can purchase admission for $5 until 5 p.m.

The theme of this year’s Nevada County Fair is “Catch the Fair Bug,” so it is fitting that in the Magical Forest area, there is a bug zone that features daily cockroach racing and bug tasting.

Fair attendees of all ages flocked to the bug zone to participate in the day’s bug-related activities.

The cockroach racing was a particular favorite among the younger demographic — throngs of eager cockroach jockeys crowded around the miniature runway with five lanes for the roaches.

Each contestant was given a straw to blow at their roach in order to encourage it to move along quickly, and that they did.

All the participants were pleased with the performance of their roaches, and each received a bookmark in addition to the straw for participating in the races.

“I’ve gotta think it’s the top 10 so far,” said Levi Van Patten of the roach racing, despite his cockroach Rex underperforming in the event by climbing out of his assigned lane.

“He climbed the walls and was lazy,” said Van Patten of his roach’s poor racing strategy.

Levi’s sister, Haedie, also participated in the day’s racing with a cockroach named Blade. Blade did well, placing second in the race, and also managed to stay in the correct lane.

Haedie said that the temperament of the roaches was the biggest surprise of the day.

“I thought they would be all mean and bite you, but eventually I touched it and it didn’t bite me, so I learned that they aren’t very mean and pretty fun,” she said.

Owen Strolle was a big winner with his aptly named Lightning Roach. He attributed his success in the race to his effective use of blowing through the straw to move Lightning Roach along to victory.

Following the races was a chance for fair-goers to expand their palates a bit with some insect samples.

In fact, the considerable crowd gathered around to try a taste of bug learned that not only are bugs such as crickets an excellent source of protein, but also that 80 percent of the world eats insects in some form or fashion. On the day’s menu were crickets, some silkworm pupa, grasshoppers and even some chocolate-covered crickets. The pupa in particular seemed to be a big hit with the crowd, with dozens of people crowding around to try a taste.

The descriptions of the bugs ranged from quite crunchy (the grasshoppers), to salty (the crickets), to very tasty and sweet (the chocolate-covered crickets). The pupa were described as similar to popcorn in taste — and indeed many washed down their bug down with beer.

For anyone who missed out on the bug racing or the tasting, these events occur thrice daily in the bug zone; check the schedule at http://nevadacountyfair.com/fair/daily-fair-schedule/.

Kael Newton is a journalism student at the University of Oregon interning with The Union; he can be reached at NCPCIntern@theunion.com.

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