The fair is my summer solstice, a time of brightness, celebrating outdoors and soaking up some sun. Rather than celebrate the season like many contemporary pagans, with bonfires, music and handfasting, I welcomed the arrival of the sunny season yesterday with a corn dog, a turkey leg, pig-judging and a 13-foot alligator at the Shasta District Fair in Anderson.
The Shasta District Fair gates are open through Sunday, but Shasta County is also home to the Inter-Mountain Fair, every Labor Day weekend in McArthur. Both are beloved county events, but which is the true Shasta County Fair?
The answer: both. The differences? The Shasta District Fair at the Anderson Fairgrounds is guided by a Board of Directors appointed by the governor. It’s CEO is a state employee and its funds are generated from statewide horse racing revenues. In contrast, the Inter-Mountain Fair is operated by Shasta County, its staff reports to the county Board of Supervisors and the fairgrounds are partially owned by Shasta County.
That’s it? Boring.
When you get right down to it, community is the core of both fairs and these two rites of summer have more similarities than differences anyway. So, let’s not take all the fun out of fair-going by worrying about the details.
The Inter-Mountain folks are clearly proud of their fair, its 92-year history and its connection to the eastern county communities. “We are the true Shasta County Fair,” says Cynthia Barnes, the Inter-Mountain Fair Business Assistant. “It’s a small-town country fair and a big community event,” she adds. She is also quick to highlight two of this year’s special events: the Burney Lion’s Club Destruction Derby and the Inter-Mountain Fair Parade featuring floats created by local organizations.
The District Fair camp is equally boastful about its agricultural roots, its expansive carnival and the fair’s continued innovation. This year’s events include wine tasting from members of the Shasta Viticulture Association and a performance by the Shasta Taiko Drummers.
Both fairs feature agriculture, livestock, floral displays, arts and crafts, and home arts like baking and canning. Both offer the community’s youth an opportunity to show and sell livestock, exhibit photographs and display school projects. Both offer local artisans, artists, weavers and quilters a place to show their works. Both keep us entertained with clowns, stage acts and strolling musicians and feed our adrenaline habits with midways, racing, motocross and auto crashes.
Chris Zwaga, the Shasta District Fair media relations representative, says it best. “When you come to the fair, you want to eat a corn dog, ride a few rides and see people you haven’t seen for a year.”
So, get a new perspective on things from the top of the ferris wheel, eat a mound of curly fries and see a concert. Enjoy our first weekend of summer, and our last, at the fair.
Visit the Shasta District Fair in Anderson through Sunday. Click here for fair hours and events. Then, enjoy the Inter-Mountain Fair in McArthur on Labor Day weekend, September 2 to 6. Click here for details and fair schedules.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to email@example.com.