Santa Clara County Fair hosts new attractions, return of an old favorite

For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Santa Clara County Fair has thrilled audiences from the South Bay and beyond. This year’s installment features a first, and a return of an old favorite.

Signaling the swan song of summer, the Santa Clara County Fair has once again set-up shop in San Jose. This year, old favorites such as animal races and petting zoos are in familiar spots.

“I really enjoy seeing kids learning about the animals. Raising them. Caring for them. It’s just, it’s part of our community,” said Stefanie Smith, as she and her daughter held and petted Frizzle chickens at the petting zoo.

Fair officials say, for 2018, there’s more blending of the 23 mainstay rides with new events, such as the LBGTQ-friendly “Out at the Fair” on Friday night.

“We’ve added a lot of things to this fair to try and encourage people to look at the fair as a place they can come be part of,” Santa Clara County Fair spokesman Steve Stagnaro.

Making a return and satiating pent-up desires, Angelo’s Pepper Steak sandwiches are once again on a roll.

“I haven’t been to the fair in 15 years and I wanted to get a pepper steak,” said fairgoer David Miranda.

Dating back to 1963, Angelo’s had been a destination at the fair. But the original owner passed, and the family had been absent from the fairgrounds since 1998. 

Recently Fred DiPietro and his siblings found their father’s old recipe book and have brought the coveted eats back to the masses. He says they couldn’t have recreated the same taste without the information in the recipe book.

“Ah the hot sauce wouldn’t have been the same. The peppers would have been different. And then the type of meat we got. Yeah, it would have been a little bit different,” said DiPiertro as he cooked several steaks and green peppers.

Long-time fairgoers Joyce and Efrain Smith say these sandwiches spark nostalgia.

“When I was a kid, we always went to the fair every year. And at one point in time we started getting the pepper steak sandwiches. And I don’t know how old I was, but that’s just want you do when you go to the fair,” she said.

One of the things you can also do this year is enjoy more musical acts, which forced a hiatus of the demolition derby. Eddie Money has the main stage Saturday, as the old favorites help bring new looks to the old county fair.