Alameda County Fair opens with new food, dog show, and raptor attractions

The Alameda County Fair opened Friday with up to 500,000 people expected to attend the event at the fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

"It looks like there are more people at least coming in. I've not seen it that busy when it's first open," Julie Hayashi of Fremont said as she and her husband entered with a long line of people when the gates opened at noon.

The theme this year is red, white, and blue and organizers have new attractions.

One is a Foodie Contest, where people can vote for their favorite fair food, whether it's the new foot and a half long corn dogs, bacon-wrapped pizza, or new Spam fries.

Harry Daviess, Alameda County Fair Event Coordination Manager, says there is also a new sit-down restaurant and plenty of craft cocktails to try. 

The Stunt Dog Show is one of the new attractions, with canines captivating the crowd by dancing, or showing off their high-flying jumping skills over bars or into a long splash pool.

"We really hope to inspire the kids to take out their dog and start learning some of these tricks," said Keri Caraher with the Stunt Dog Show.

Another new feature is a show by Raptor Events from Southern California, who brought two owls, a hawk and a falcon to do demonstrations to educate the public about birds of prey.

"She's a baby spectacled owl," said Jonathan Gonzalez of Raptor Events, showing a small owl on his hand, "She's only a few months old, so this is her first big event."

For the cold-blooded, there's also a tent full of reptiles, giving people chances to pet alligators and see snakes close up.

"We have probably about 20 species of reptiles. Anywhere from bald pythons, we have reptile boas," Jerry Miller of Brad's World Reptiles said. "It's an educational purpose. it gives people a chance to get closer to the animal with us instead of going out in the wild."

There are still the longtime county fair traditions, including livestock and quilting, preserves and jams, and baked good competitions.

"Today there was a passionfruit mochi donut. We've never seen that before ...different jalapeño breads. Just being creative, that's what it's all about," said Jenn DeJanes, one of the baking judges.

Organizers hope people will support the local vendors...

"Hopefully, hopefully, they're going to show up and try to spend money," said Cheikh Toure, a vendor with roots in France and Senegal.

With the recent closing of Golden Gate Fields, horse-racing is another big draw this year.

"I'm here with my mom," said Travis Smith of Berkeley, "It is a blessing that we can still keep it alive here."

The fair also has fireworks, drone shows and lots of live entertainment.

Check out the fair site for pricing, discounts and events going on throughout the fair season.

The fair runs through July 7. 


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