Fair opens today; steered toward county’s youngsters | TheUnion.com

Fair opens today; steered toward county’s youngsters

Organizers at the Nevada County Fair have spent tens of thousands of dollars in the past year, adding attractions to boost the venerable event’s youthful appeal.

Will the addition of laser tag, interactive video games and stunt biking pull them in when the fair kicks off this morning?

That depends on whom you ask.

“My favorite thing at the fair is being in this barn,” said Jennifer Patton, 14, a Lime Kiln-area student who is showing a heifer and steer at the fairgrounds this year. “I’m not really into video games and electronics and stuff, but I think it’s a good idea for people who are into that. It’s cool to make people feel comfortable.”

For the past two years, fair officials have been on a quest to find the latest and coolest activities of the moment to give teens their special area during the five-day run of the fair.

What debuted last year as The Outback has been super-sized. Fair managers have added more music and activities, including video-game portals in an old maintenance shed that will house Sony PlayStations, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Game Boy Advance and PC stations.

More live music has been added, as well, and deputy fair manager Sandy Woods said they’ll add even more, if that’s what people want.

“Over the last few years, we’ve tried to pique the interest of our younger audience, and we’ve invested a lot of money into (The Outback).”

Apparently, Woods and her charges are intent on making sure The Outback generates plenty of buzz over the next few days. “We’re seeking input from anyone. Everyone,” she said. “That’s what makes this work.”

Fair officials have spent more than $20,000 to see if it does, though some aren’t so sure.

“Why would you need to go to the fair to play Xbox?” asked Felisha Flud, 19. “I think it’s kind of lame. I don’t understand the point of going to the fair if you’re just going to play that.”

Flud and her friend, Heather Gore, 16, enjoy karaoke and dancing the most at the fair. Both said they simply enjoy the fair because it’s fun without being cheesy.

How often do you get to ride a bucking mechanical bull or eat deep-fried Twinkies while getting your toes massaged on a Footsie Wootsie anyway?

Some are just hoping this year’s Outback doesn’t dry up.

“It was kind of dumb,” Nevada Union High School sophomore Andrew Jackson, 15, said of last year’s Outback. “There was nobody there.”

After spending hours in a barn sweeping, mucking out the stalls and preening her animals for the judging and Junior Livestock Auction, Kelsey Blagg said she simply wants to have fun, whether it’s in the Outback or not.

“I bring the fun with me,” she said. “We just dance the night away.”

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