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El Dorado County fair puts focus on family fun

By: Don Chaddock Telegraph Managing Editor
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PLACERVILLE — As the clock ticks down to the start of the El Dorado County Fair on Thursday, hundreds of volunteers have been behind the scenes trying to pull everything together. One of the biggest misperceptions surrounding the organization of the fair, according to those involved, is the amount of preparation time that goes into it. “Some people think we have a fair for four days and can sit back and relax the rest of the year,” said fair CEO Jody Gray. “We really start in the summer, planning our budget for the following year.” She said by fall, fair organizers are looking at entertainment. “So in October and November, we start recruiting for bands and other entertainers,” she said. “By January, at the latest, we want our theme. That takes a couple of months.” This year’s theme is “Rockin’ and Wranglin’.” “We want to focus entertainment that matches our theme,” she said. “We start by designing our art. So by the end of January, if we don’t have our artwork, our theme and half our entertainment, we are very behind.” She said trying to time the band schedules is also tricky. “Coordinating timing and sound with the bands and stages is really hard and time consuming,” she said. “And, at the same time, we are working our still-display entry guide.” She said they need to plan ribbons, awards, trophies and plaques. Then they all need to be ordered. “We also have to (secure) judges,” Gray said. “We have to book (hotel) rooms for judges and entertainers. And then there is also the wine competition.” With staff members and volunteers, Gray said they manage to get it done every year. “Hundreds of volunteer hours go into this,” she said. “Master gardeners and master food preservers are also planning their (parts). We while we’re planning seven to eight months out of the year, they are also.” Aside from all the hard work going on at the fairgrounds, she said they also have to reach out to the community. “We brainstorm with our marketing director, public relations and people like the media,” she said. “We’re dealing with partners all year.” Scott Russell, with Mother Lode 49ers F-H club, was hard at work overseeing volunteers as they set up a watering system for the pigs at the fairgrounds on a warm Thursday afternoon, a week before the fair’s opening. “We all split up the duties between the groups,” Russell said. For more information on the fair, visit eldoradocountyfair.org. * * * KNOW AND GO: El Dorado County Fair When: Noon-midnight, June 16-18; Noon to 10 p.m., June 19 Where: 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville Tickets: $9 for adults, $7 for children 7-12 and seniors, children 6 and younger are free Information: (530) 621-5860, eldoradocountyfair.org * * * COUNTY FAIR BY THE NUMBERS How many: 15,000 attend daily Employees: 120 Volunteers: 250 daily Police: 25 officers Guest services: 25 personnel Animals: 450 Youth animal handlers: 400 Adult animal handlers: 50 Parents handling the 400 kids: 600 Corn dogs consumed: 6,000 Funnel cakes consumed: 1,400 Roasted ears of corn consumed: 1,300 Fairgoers using county transit shuttle: 17,000 Toilet paper used: 163,000 feet Paper towels used: 71,200 feet