I grew up in Houston. Every year, my family would go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest livestock show in the country, complete with carnival rides, unique exhibitions and live entertainment.
So I was lukewarm about going to the California State Fair. I figured it would be a smaller, slightly inferior version of what I grew up with.
But after reading about the fair, talking to people there and touring the Cal Expo grounds, I’m excited.
Yes, it’s smaller than the Houston livestock show (after all, everything’s bigger in Texas), but the California State Fair has its own appeal. Just as I think it is unreasonable to compare Texas and California en masse, I’ve decided it isn’t fair to compare the fairs.
I’ll go to the fair, which starts Fridayand runs through July 26, with an open mind, looking forward to learning more about California.
California is home to Silicon Valley, but it is also the nation’s top agricultural producer. This year’s fair gives a nod to both.
It is hosting the inaugural U.S. National Drone Racing Championships. More than 100 pilots will be competing July 16-17 for $25,000 in prizes. Drone racing is the most high-tech thing I have ever heard of happening at a state fair.
I also want to visit exhibits about the state’s agricultural products. There will be plenty to see without the displays of pregnant pigs that the fair has done away with as part of an evolution in thinking about animal welfare. To showcase California’s leadership in the farm-to-fork movement, the Postal Service is unveiling four new stamps.
California is a big state. I look forward to visiting the county exhibits to find out what’s special about unfamiliar places.
This is what the State Fair is all about. It’s a chance to learn, take pride in and celebrate California. That’s worth braving the heat and the outrageous deep-fried food.
The California State Fair is not the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but that’s not a bad thing. Not every place can be Texas.
Elliott Lapin, a rising senior at Stanford University, is a summer intern at The Sacramento Bee.