1998 California State Fair Report

By Mark Blackburn, MBA

The California State Fair is remarkable.  Don't miss it! 

Below is my report of the 1998 State Fair

   Held in Sacramento   August 17 to September 3   2001

You know, for many years now (maybe 7) I  have been slightly embarrassed for the Golden State.  We have a governor who plunged the Golden state into itís only recession in itís history, by regressing us with the largest state income tax increase in the history of the 50 United States.  Remarkably, due only to the amazing productivity and creativity of the stateís businesses, along with a slight reduction in taxes, we have risen up out of Peteís recession and emerged again as a major nation-state in the world community.

 Nowhere was this more evident than at the California State Fair.  Whether in hand-sewn quilts, livestock, agriculture, High-School Science Projects or Industrial Arts, or widget salesmen,  California has an amazing talent pool.  This yearís theme seemed to be the motion picture industry....centered for the whole world in California.  California now has a population of over 31 million.  Fully 30% of incoming (legal) immigrants choose to live in California, the most ethnically diverse state.  Today there are more people living in one California city,  La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora, Reina de Los Angeles (L.A. to you ancronym-loving types), than lived in the entire state 45 years ago when I was born.  We have a lot of tired, sick and lazy.  But, we also have the best and brightest.  To doubt this is to deny that we are the arts center for planet Earth, or that the most exciting, fast-paced, far-reaching industry of the new millennium (computers) is centered in Santa Clara County, California (silicon valley).

 I came away from the state fair proud to be a native Californian.  The state fair is terrific.  Maybe itís because Sacramento is a fairly insignificant city.  Probably any number of California county fairs are as large, or attract as many visitors.  But the talent pool which flows upward to the State Fair is 31 million strong.  The art exhibits, the sheer examples of talent in photography, metal-working, furniture building, dress-making, animal grooming, painting, etc., is well, the same as any other nation with 31 million inhabitants.  Except that (kick me if Iím wrong) California has a disproportionate lot of very talented, artistic people.

 I enjoyed the talent  the same way I enjoy watching the Olympics.  The level of talent in this contest is world-class.  I loved the county exhibits.  I have lived in perhaps 8 of Californiaís counties, and traveled through dozens more.  I just toured the county exhibits in the State Capitol, and the ones at the State Fair are much more elaborate.  Oddly, as in í97 the stateís richest county, Santa Clara, did not send an exhibit.  San Francisco county was the other hold-out this year.  The state fair has tons of eating options even for vegetarians.  I attended the hypnotistís show for the second year.  The guy is great.  The weather is warm....warm enough to see teenagers walking around in wet clothes.  There are areas to swim & splash. 

 The garden exhibits are wonderful to walk through, especially for aspiring gardeners.  And to top it off at 10:00pm they give a fireworks show.  The only thing better was that it was still warm enough for me to ride home on my motorcycle in shorts without getting cold.  I like our warm Summers.  I strongly recommend attending on a weekday evening.  The crowds are much smaller.  I attended alone, and was able to cover 85% of what I wanted in one 4 hour visit.  I just had a wonderful time, and found it a real treat.  Iíll go back.  Admission was $7 for an adult.

 Iím proud to be a Californian.  And Pete Wilson will be [permanent] history in January Ď99.   California will complete itís recovery without (or, rather, in spite of) him.


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