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  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Kylie McCoy, Phoenix Fuentes and Haylie McCoy, all from Oklahoma – enjoy the Music Express at the California State Fair.

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Alyson and Jacob Shortridge of Smartsville in Yuba County, wait Sunday for their nieces and a nephew on a nearby ride.

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Peggy Lusk, right, and Harley Doughty of Rancho Cordova exit the 5th Dimension Experience on Sunday at the State Fair. They've been to a lot of State Fairs since the 1940s but hadn't seen anything like this eye-popping attraction.

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    It may look and sound like an Italian pasta kitchen as Anthony Larsen and Elle Kem of Sacramento prepare "spaghetti" Sunday at the California State Fair, but the goodies they're making really are ice cream in disguise.

  • RENÉE C. BYER / rbyer@sacbee.com

    Close-up view of Anthony Larsen and Elle Kem creations at the California State Fair.

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Plenty of new attractions as State Fair ends its 2013 run

Published: Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 - 9:22 am

Michael Ramos was perched on the lower horizontal bar of the letter "F" of the "California" sign in front of the State Fair on Sunday.

"My cousins and I wanted to take a picture of us with a letter for each cousin," said the 18-year-old Elk Grove resident after security officers told him to get down.

Ramos was among thousands of visitors to the California State Fair on the final day of its run this year.

The "California" sign was among a number of additions to the fair this year.

It was Ramos' second trip to the State Fair this summer. He wanted to revisit the Hall of Heroes – another new feature.

"I'm excited by the superheroes," Ramos said. "I've always liked comic book stuff – it's the story of my life. My favorite was Spider-Man, and I used to be called 'Spider Mike' because I like to climb the highest thing up there."

Over at the Magical Midway, Anthony Thoma, 19, of Cameron Park tried out the new Vertigo ride.

"It was fun," he said afterward. "It's not super-scary, but it's pretty high up there and pretty fast."

Twenty-four passengers, strapped into swings, spun around the 100-foot-tall ride as it lifted them closer and closer to the top.

Thoma wasn't aware that the Vertigo was a new ride, but he gave it seven points out of 10 and said he would ride it again.

His stepfather, Adam Mercer, 34, said the ride was OK but that other people may not have shared that idea.

"The girl in front of me threw up as soon as the ride stopped," he said. "Maybe she didn't like it very much."

Peggy Lusk, 78, and Harley Doughty, 85, both of Rancho Cordova, are veterans of the State Fair, having attended every year since the 1940s when it was held on Stockton Boulevard. But Sunday, they decided to check out something new – the 5th Dimension Experience.

The 3-D animated show that included lasers, sound effects and a fog machine was another new addition to the fair.

"It was amazing," Lusk said. "It was crazy. It comes right up to you. There was a big whale which opened its mouth and tried to eat you. It's like it was real."

Added Doughty, "It's better than 3-D. You jump when things come at you."

Carmichael residents Alan and Amy Parkin watched Anthony Larsen of Sacramento make a plate of "spaghetti" ice cream for them. Larsen hummed an Italian tune while he worked the ice cream "noodle maker."

Alan Parkin, 32, said the dish looked like spaghetti but didn't taste like it.

"It's vanilla ice cream (for the noodles), strawberry sauce (for the marinara) and chocolate 'parmesan,' " he said. The "meatball" was deep-fried cookie dough covered with chocolate.

Tony Cardinali, 53, of Huntington Beach is the owner of Cardinali Food Concessions. He said his family created the spaghetti-looking ice cream especially for the State Fair this year.

"People like to try different things," he said. "This fair has been great fun, and it's the best fair that we've been to."

He said he would likely be back next year, but will create something new to offer.

He credited new State Fair chief Rick Pickering for having the foresight to reach out to him.

"He brings in people with unique foods," he said.

On Sunday, Pickering declined to give attendance figures for the fair, saying the final figures won't be in until Tuesday.

"We're pretty positive and excited," he said. "The fair has had a downward trend in the last few years, and to turn it around in just a few months would be a challenge."

In 2001, attendance was 847,099, but that dropped to 461,477 in 2009. Last year, 523,838 people visited Cal Expo during the State Fair's 18-day run.

Pickering said the State Fair had a banner day on Saturday, when attendance topped 80,000.

"It's in the top 10 days in the last 10 years," he said, but he wouldn't say whether that was an indicator that attendance was up overall this year.

"I'm very pleased with the direction of attendance," Pickering said.

"People came early and stayed late. We're all about the customer experience. It really comes down to whether people enjoy their stay."

Call The Bee's Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Tillie Fong



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