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29 July 2010

When I was growing up, I had dreams of going to the state fair.   So many books talked about yearly trips to the state fair, there were movies about the thrill of going to the state fair but our family never went.

The first real fair that I remember attending was when I was in high school, and went with my boyfriend Bill and another couple fo the Alameda County Fair.  One of the first things we did was to play one of the arcade games.  If you threw wooden rings, you could get a polaroid camera.  I desperately wanted that camera and spent all of my money and all of Bill's money trying to get it.   Naturally, I didn't and we left the fair because we had no more money to spend on anything.

It taught me that I should never play games of chance, and it is a lesson I have remembered to this day.

When we moved to Davis, we attended a few county fairs.  I remember the time we went to the Yolo County Fair and I made sure that all the kids had their contact information attached to them.  We lost Tom at that fair, but they called for us over the loud speaker and we found Tom happily in the company of the fair security.

I entered a couple of cakes in the Dixon May Fair when I was taking cake decorating classes.  I even won a couple of awards.

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(Betsy Ross)

The first state fair that I remember wasn't until we had moved to Davis and decided to take our kids to the fair.  Char and Mike came with their five kids too, so we had ten kids, the youngest of whom was the Blackfords' Cam, who was probably a pre-schooler at the time.  The main thing I remember was that it was so expensive.   It seemed that everything the kids wanted to do or buy cost money and the thing I hated most of all was saying "No--we can't afford it" to the kids.  But I do remember that all the girls bought "invisible dogs" and walked their "dogs" around the fair all afternoon.

Then there was the fair where we got into the sky tram with Timo the Clown, who was in costume, but out of character, riding with his kid and scolding the kid for something.  Strange situation being with a father in clown face bawling his kid out.

We haven't gone to the state fair in years.  The kids may have gone.  I can't remember, but I haven't been in decades.  It always seems too hot and too crowded to make the trip to Sacramento.

This year we're missing out on all the excitement.  First of all, a few days ago two armed men, possibly employees of a food vendor, walked into a cash-counting room and left with $100,000 in a bag.  They haven't seen seen since.   Now there's a pair who know about how to rig games of chance!

And then a couple of days ago there was the "mad cow" incident.  A pregnant cow, brought to the fair so that children could witness the miracle of birth and the first days in the life of a new calf, twice escaped her enclosure and bolted for freedom. 

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She was described as "rampaging."  It's hard to imagine a lone, pregnant cow "rampaging."

The cow was shot and killed.

There is a lot of controversy about the shooting, many feeling the police acted too quickly.  There was a demonstration by animal rights activists today. The cow escaped before the fair gates opened and was chased in what I can only imagine as a Keystone Cops chase for a full hour and a half.

People wanted to shoot her with a tranquilizer gun, but the vets were reluctant to do that for fear of harming the calf, so they calmed the cow with food and hay, but when they tried to load her into a trailer, she got away from them again.

Finally, the decision was made to shoot the cow, but because nobody took action quickly enough, the calf died too.  Lose lose all around.

Now what I want to know is...  what happens at a state fair?  There are midway rides and food and exhibits and....livestock.  Cowboys.   Rodeos.  As my friend, columnist Debra LoGuercio asked -- in all the people who were part of this long chase, was there NOBODY who had a rope?  Nobody who had ever ridden herd on cattle and learned how to rope a steer?  At a state fair that celebrates the agricultural life in the state of California, did the capture of a cow fall solely to the city cops?  And if it was a committee decision to kill the cow...with all those veterinarians around, why was it not possible to act quickly enough to save the calf?

Fair officials were pleased to report that "nobody was hurt during the incident."

Unless you count the cow and her baby.


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