August 31, 2012
Today marks the start of America’s Labor Day weekend, which means it’s also the opening day of the L.A. County Fair – the largest in the USA. The event is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and will run Weds – Sun for the next four weeks, closing on September 30th.
The enormous end-of-summer extravaganza (or ‘endless’ summer as Angelenos like to call it) has attractions and shows for the whole family, along with an eye-popping range of food, wine and beer gardens, live music, petting zoos, and rides both hair-raising and more gentle. There’s also a working farm and miniature railroad, and an End of Summer Concert Series which features 20 nights of Demolition Derbys, freestyle Motocross and big-name music stars, including Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan and The Wanted.
The line-up of themed attractions this year is as strong as ever. Stingray Island brings the beauty of marine life to the mainland, with saltwater aquariums filled with exotic fish and a chance to feed and pet the stingrays. The Lands of Frogs, Princesses and Knights conjures a magical fairytale world where children can visit the Amphibian Pond, take part in a knighthood ceremony or model their favourite princess dresses. Pets Ahoy features high-seas animal adventures, with a pirate dog show and plenty of lost treasure to be found. And if you’re feeling especially homesick, visit the Flower and Garden Pavilion where the theme this year is London 2012, giving the culture and landscape of our own Olympic host city pride of place. Visit the website for details of all 18 attractions.
What can we say – this is probably not the place to come for a healthy snack, although we’re assured there are plenty to be found among the deep-fried, battered, or smothered-in-sauce ribs, wings, burgers and so on. The fair itself is all about tradition, so expect to find food to match. We’re talking hot dogs on sticks, Kool Aid, fresh catfish, frozen lemonade, and plenty of deep fried Oreo cookies. There are over 300 food vendors plying their culinary wares, with some of the best Los Angeles food trucks making an appearance at weekends.
For many visitors, the thrill rides are the heart of the show, with La Grande Wheel – the largest mobile Ferris wheel in the western hemisphere – overseeing the action. At nearly 50 meters high, it’s taller than the Statue of Liberty and can carry up to 288 passengers at once. New for this year is Disk-O, a spinning disc which twirls seated riders 360 degrees from side to side, alongside old favourites G-Force, Top Spin and Euro Slide. Younger folk can enjoy more junior thrills at this year’s expanded kiddie carnival, where rides like Aladdin whisk them away on a magic carpet. (And also brings them back again, we understand).
The fair takes place at the Fairplex ground in Pomona, a suburb about 27 miles west of central Los Angeles which is easily accessible from Union Station via Metrolink if you don’t have access to a car.
There are various different admission prices dependent on when you visit and the areas you wish to have access to – visit the website for full details. Virgin Atlantic operates daily direct flights to Los Angeles from London Heathrow.
Header shot © angryjuliemonday