Neighbors gear up for the state fair

Shown here is a photograph from last year's California State Fair. This year's state fair will take place July 10-26 and is located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. / photo by Stephen Crowley
Shown here is a photograph from last year's California State Fair. This year's state fair will take place July 10-26 and is located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. / photo by Stephen Crowley

Excitement surrounding the inaugural 2015 U.S. National Drone Racing Championship at the California State Fair on Bonney Field on July 16 and 17 is heating up for this first-of-its-kind competition officially sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Congressionally mandated agency that oversees radio controlled and unmanned model aviation activities. With a rich heritage in agriculture, education, technology and entertainment, the California State Fair is set to become the perfect venue to host this competition, which is organized by Flying Grounds Inc.
For more than 160 years, the California State Fair has showcased the best of the Golden State and organizers hope the drone racing will showcase not only the best in the state, but the best in the country for the specialized sport. During the 2014 state fair more than 750,000 people attended, making memories that will last a lifetime. Cal Expo was dedicated as a place to celebrate California’s achievements, industries, agriculture, diversity of its people, traditions and trends that shape the Golden State’s future. This year’s California State Fair will take place July 10-26 at Cal Expo, located at 1600 Exposition Blvd.

Valley Community Newspapers sought out local participants in various areas of fair entertainment and is featuring them as follows:

Former Pocket News writer, Jeff Dominguez was appointed outreach and special projects coordinator of the California Exposition and State Fair. He spoke to this publication about many different topics to explore, including the drone racing, which he has been instrumental in recommending the venue, Bonney Field.
“One of the things (the state fair) highlighted was the assembly line when it was developed. Over the course of past couple of years, it’s been revealed to us by our contacts in Ag that drone technology will pretty much revolutionize the way people farm, and mainly with regard to their role in agriculture, we decided we wanted to have some sort of competition. So as far as the research surrounding drone competitions, we found a circuit of drone racing. We got connected with a guy who does drone racing,” Dominguez said.
“(Scot Ressland from Flying Grounds Inc.) is from Berkeley and has a PhD in virtual reality. We brought him in, talked to him and about him staging a drone race. We thought we’d do (the drone races) in the rodeo, but it was too dusty, then we thought about having it in a race track. Then, on a whim, we drove him to Bonney Field and it’s the field of dreams for drones. That became the focus of our goal and we came up with a course. It’s gaining momentum. (Ressland) started developing a lovely proposal of what he wanted to do,” he said.
While some readers might think that this drone racing is basically radio controlled airplane racing, Dominguez begs to differ. “The thing on drones is when you think of piloting or see kids with remote control airplanes, this is different. This kind of piloting is FPV – first person view. How these guys fly these drones – they don’t sit in a chair; they are equipped on board with cameras that shoot out of the drones and the pilots wear goggles that are covered with TV monitors. When you look at these guys, they look like a bunch of Stevie Wonders.”
That’s not to say that every drone pilot wears said goggles; in fact, Dominguez explained that covering one’s eyes can be a divisive topic in the subculture of drone racing. “Some don’t wear goggles. They look at the TV monitors instead. The TV monitor guys think the goggle guys are stupid and the goggle guys think the TV monitor guys are stupid. I’ve been with them on test days, and they’re talking (expletive) about each other. It’s really funny; the braggadocio in mind games is a huge part of this,” he said.
The drone competition will feature California style high speed racing with 250 class multirotor air frames, typically with four or six motors. California style racing is a slightly smaller course, but a much more challenging design as pilots must possess both speed and fast-twitch agility skills. The average size of these drones is approximately the size of two shoe boxes, weigh no more than 600 grams, and their racing altitude is no more than 50 feet in a safe self-contained area. The competition will attract 200 of the best pilots in the U.S. to compete for a total cash prize of $25,000 provided by Flying Grounds Inc. along with trophies, ribbons, and bragging rights for the participating pilots.
Pre-qualifying rounds and time trials will take place on the first day of the event followed by the high-speed agility style racing on Friday. All races will take place on a professionally designed course with features including under/over obstacles, slalom, hairpin turns and challenging gates. An invitational freestyle acrobatic competition will also be included to showcase the best first person view (FPV) pilots. Friday evening will showcase the championship rounds, awards and closing ceremonies.
Free public events (with paid fair admission) include “Drone Planet” pavilion that showcases companies and organizations in the drone agriculture and racing industries, and the “Drone Hangar” featuring inventors, air frame makers, with the latest drone racing inventions. VIP Pit passes can be purchased for an additional fee of $15 and includes field-level viewing and access to the flyers prep area.
FPV drone racing has become a wildly popular hobby in the past 12 months, yet the use of drones remains an issue for public debate with respect to commercial use. In addition to the racing excitement at the National Championships, industry experts from organizations such as the AMA, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plan to attend and share the latest information about drone technology, policies and regulations.
Aside from Jeff’s involvement with the fair, there are many other Sacramento neighborhood highlights, which include (but are in no way limited to the following):
The announcement of Sacramentan Keith Breedlove as the official chef for the state fair. This is the first time the California State Fair has had an official chef to represent and share the fair’s mission and goals for sustainable and healthy ways of cultivating and preparing California specialties from the farm to the plate. The knowledge and passion “Culinerdy” Breedlove has for food will amaze California cuisine lovers with #TheBest culinary delights, picked fresh from the Save Mart 3-acre farm, which is run most entirely by Sacramento State University graduate Alicia Kot.
Breedlove gained an interest for food at an early age, learning cooking techniques and how to barbecue from his greatest mentor, his grandfather, Papa Dale Breedlove. In 1987, he entered the culinary profession and his dream of becoming a chef became reality with a farm-to-fork style of cuisine.
Breedlove, will be available each day of the fair to give live, educational cooking demonstrations. Breedlove will also represent the state fair at various events leading up to and during the fair.
“My passion lies in bringing you flavorful international inspired California cuisine reinterpreted using a combination of modern and traditional techniques, assuring every meal is prepared with an ingenious, nerdy and slightly crazy approach,” says Breedlove.
Out in the world of beer winners, Arden resident Matt Johnson and Amador Brewing Company were the winners for their “British Dark Mild” beer, beating out more than 1,000 entries, stated Dominguez.
In the world of arts and entertainment, much can be said about the vast amount of talent hailing from Sacramento. It appears, the final results for the Youth Arts competition are in, and there are a number of first place winners from St. Francis High School.
Over on the Groupon Stage, there is a mix of music and entertainment but this stage tends to have more in the way of music. This year, The Cheeseballs and Wonderbread 5, which are well known local bands, will entertain crowds.
On the PG&E Center Stage, local Jazzercise classes will be performing on Sunday, July 12; gymnasts from Land Park’s Planet Gymnastics will take the stage on Tuesday, July 14, East Sacramento dancers from Fancy Feet will be performing on July 24 and 26. East Sacramento mom, Melissa Jeffers Russell, said her daughter Emma is “very excited to perform at the fair. She will be doing ballet to Part of Your World with other girls from her class (at Fancy Feet).”
Land Park children’s author Kate David will be in the California Author Exhibit on the ground floor in Building A/B on Tuesday, July 14, Saturday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kate is the author of “Murphy and the Magical Hat” (2012) and “McKay and the Magical Hat” (2014).
Pocket artist Christopher Williams will be showing his art July 18-21 in Building 7 of the Expo Center. Christopher has produced roughly 200 paintings, including commissioned pieces. At a recent Friends of the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library after hours celebration, he showed a wide assortment of pieces, including two from his Mama Fonju jazz series, a master copy of John singer sergeants Madam X, and Soul of a Woman. Additionally, he had 11×17-inch prints of his past paintings. On the spot, at the event, Christopher drew a pencil sketch of Otterby Reading, the Sacramento Public Library’s mascot.
Upcoming shows include the Sacramento Comic Con in August and Sac Anime in September. He also paints live every Second Saturday at Comics & Collectibles, located at the corner of Freeport Boulevard and Fruitridge Road.
After he graduated from Plaza Robles High School in his hometown, his family moved to Sacramento. And now a Pocket resident for the past 10 years and employee at Apple Inc. in Elk Grove, The Black da Vinci, as he calls himself, is now making a try at art as a full time career.
You see, his father, Donald, one of Christopher’s main sources of inspiration and encouragement, passed away earlier this year with the last words said to his son as “I’m very proud of you, son” on Jan. 5. Those words, spoken to Christopher over the phone after the artist was interviewed by FOX 40 at Sac Anime, resonated in the budding artist whose work varies tremendously in style from piece to piece.
Pocket resident David Chin won first place in the toy category for his display of a 2-foot-tall wooden Ferris wheel, which will be shown in Building 8 during the course of the entire fair. Made of pine, the Ferris wheel’s materials came from Home Depot, which means the wood is “bottom end. I hate to say that,” jokes David.
About him entering his work into the fair, David recalled, “I said put it in a category where you think it belongs; (on the display), there are 31 little people and one dog.” Last fall, David won first place in a wood show contest at Woodcraft on Folsom Boulevard for a wood train he carved. David belongs to the Capital Woodcarvers Association, which meets at the Arden Park Recreation Center, 1000 La Sierra Drive from 7 to 9 p.m. every second Tuesday for business, guest speaker and show and tell. The group also meets at that time on the fourth Tuesday for informal carving and class project carving.
Former Land Park resident Ashley Fajardo, 31, an award-winning equestrian vaulter will be performing every night at the state fair at 8 p.m.
Equestrian vaulting, which can be explained as gymnastics and dancing on horses, has been a part of Ashley’s life since she was 9 years old. After the death of her parents, she was taken in by her father’s friend, Michelle Solorzano, the owner of Crown Capall, a spawn of Nu Balance Vaulters. According to the business’s website, entertainment has always had a special place within the club, then in 2001 Crown Capall split away from the competitive Nu Balance team to focus specifically on entertaining. With endless tricks that can be choreographed, Ashley’s favorite trick consists of “ground jumps,” which she explains as sliding down the side of a horse, landing on the ground and then jumping back onto it, all whilst the animal is in movement. “I used to compete all over. I was on a traveling team, and competed in Europe a lot. That was when I was younger. In junior high, I spent a lot of time traveling. When I stopped that team, I still competed here in the U.S., then I started doing performance stuff, big shows that were not so much on the competitive side. I still coach and help out with the horses.”
A local gal, Ashley attended C.K. McClatchy High School, California Middle School, Crocker-Riverside Elementary, and for nine years, she worked at the Riverside Clubhouse. Having lived in the city and being a “horse person,” she had friends ask, “‘Who is this crazy girl who likes horses?’ No one liked horses in Land Park,” she said.
Ashley recently moved to Newcastle where she has 2 and a half acres of land and just bought the first horse of her own, which she named Ben and is of a gaited horse variety called a Tennessee Walking Horse. “(Ben) is not going to be for vaulting, but will be for riding purposes,” she says.
While a student at California Middle School, Ashley was on an international traveling team, whose owner was part of the Hearst family. “It was a very highly competitive team,” Ashley said. “Everything was given to us, the best of everything. We even had horses that were stationed in Europe to vault on. One coach has a team in Holland.” Ashley said she was going to apply for McClatchy’s competitive Humanities and International Studies Program program, but decided against it due to her demanding schedule, though most of her teachers were understanding of her extracurricular activities. She recalls taking school work home on Thursday and traveling to Woodside (Bay Area) to practice. “I did homework on planes there and back. We practiced with the club here and we’d go there on the weekends.”
With regard to the fair, Ashley said it has always been a part of her life. And, as a long-time fair entertainer, she has experienced much change at the fairgrounds. “Things were different when I was younger. It was family there; we got to camp out. They don’t let people camp anymore. We used to share food and things (with other campers). It was a different generation that was super cool. We still get to see people you don’t get to see (through out the rest of the year). It’s always nice because the fair is not our biggest show, but it is easier for people to come see you.”
Amongst her most memorable fair experiences, was one that occurred 10 years ago when her then-boyfriend, Fernando proposed to her on horseback at the end of one of her shows. This year will be their 9-year wedding anniversary! “He was going to take me to Disneyland, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen because we were getting ready for the fair. It was a Sunday night. We were performing Chicago on horseback. Afterward, we (the performers) were saying thank you (to the audience) and to have a nice night. Then, all of a sudden, music from the (Adam Sandler movie) ‘Wedding Singer’ started playing. It was ‘Grow Old With You.’ I was totally shocked and (him) being on a horse threw me off.” Asked if she was completely taken aback by the unique proposal, Ashley laughed saying she thought Fernando was breaking up with her “because he wasn’t around. He disappeared, but he just couldn’t keep a secret. ”
Ashley said the equestrian vaulting has brought so much joy and opportunity in her life. “I got to pair up with super cool acts like with Clay Meirs who double rides horses. He invited us to do show with him. We got to do the Friesian Extravaganza. Friesians are the big black horses. We’ve done a show with The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls (a group that performs at various events across the country and globe). They’ve been around a long time. We go to real big shows. I’ve definitely been blessed by that and do so many things.”
Sacramento City College art professor Robyn Waxman wrote this publication describing her students’ achievements and their participation in the state fair.
All of her students are student-designers of Flagship Design Studio, the Graphic Communication Studio class (GCOM 490).
Flagship Design Studio typically takes two to three awards each year in the California State Fair for the professional quality work they design. The process includes client meetings, heavy art direction, and many revisions so the work is molded into something students include in their professional portfolios and clients are able to use for a long time afterward. The students this year have never won an award like this before, so they are thrilled to receive an honor for the studio that they can include on their resumes and talk about at future job interviews, said Waxman.
Flagship Design Studio Designers Cyrus Maglinte, Carlos Vasquez, Johnnesper Pimentel and Ethan Powell won Outstanding Group Project and the California Graphic Arts Association Education Award. “This project included the materials to promote our Year End Show in Graphic Communication, a student-showcase exhibit featuring the best work this school year in the Graphic Communication Department. This year’s show used the theme of ‘Board Games’ and work included four posters, a large interactive board game, post cards, and ‘Best of Class’ awards,” said Waxman.
Additionally, Flagship Design Studio Designers Cyrus Maglinte, Andreana Schudy, Carlos Vasquez and Johnnesper Pimentel won honorable mention for their 5-minute video that introduces the EOPS program at Sacramento City College, interviewing counselors, students, and alumni whose successes were linked to the EOPS program. The video can be seen at
“Our students in the Flagship Design Studio are trained to be design professionals. They are introduced to “real world” experiences and scenarios working in our studio. Each semester we accept between 5–9 clients from the Sacramento Community and SCC campus departments. Primarily we design work for nonprofits, start ups, and financially strapped entities at low costs. The money we raise supports student portfolios, buys supplies and professional equipment that students do not normally have access to, and pays for the Flagship Design Studio swag that design students wear with pride. The students gain experience writing proposals and invoices, working in design teams, communicating with a client, integrating client and art director feedback, and presenting their work,” Waxman said.
“To have our work shown at the fair and to be honored with first place, where our work is compared, presumably, against many other groups is quite an achievement. To me, it means the work our team at Flagship Studio did was really good and our designs were strong.
Asked if he was surprised by the award, Cyrus said, “yes, and at the same time, ‘no.’ When I say ‘no,’ I’m not saying that I expected to win, but I knew that our group had done good work. Our team at Flagship Studio worked really well together and we generally enjoyed working on the project. So, when I say ‘yes’, it’s to say that I had no idea how well pour project would do against the many potential candidates we may have had to compete against.”
Cyrus’ long term goal is to be a video game designer, creating 3D art and UI assets. “At least, that’s how I began when I first started taking classes from the GCOM department at SCC,” he said. “However, as my studies have expanded, I have also become interested in information architecture and web design.”
Finally, in the world of politics, Sacramentan Darrow Sprague, will be coordinating the scheduling of volunteers for the Sacramento Democratic Party booth this year.

Know your neighbor: Linda Hayward, solar cooking extraordinaire

“Who knew, we, modern advanced societies, could cook with free abundant clean energy from the sun? It seems like going backward is the answer to moving forward as we respond to the demands of our changing world. (Solar cooking) is one fun, gratifying way to do that.”
– Linda Hayward, Land Park resident

Shown here is Linda Hayward of Land Park from about four years ago, before the addition of her SunOven cooker. / Photo courtesy

Shown here is Linda Hayward of Land Park from about four years ago, before the addition of her SunOven cooker. / Photo courtesy

To Land Park resident Linda Hayward, the joy of solar cooking lies in the thrill of cooking in a sustainable way. The retired Lisbon Elementary School teacher first became aware of solar cooking about 21 years ago by attending a workshop where the class made a box cooker from scratch, which included cardboard and newspaper for insulation.

When she needed to be away all day at work, Linda would put a meal in her cooker and aim it in the direction of where the sun would be at midday. “I knew nothing would burn and the food was still warm for dinner or needing only minimal heating,” Linda said.

And, back then, when she taught at Lisbon, Linda regularly cooked with her class. In an interview with the Land Park News, Linda explained her work with the now-closed Pocket area school. “We would put a Cook-it (panel cooker) in the middle of the quad at Lisbon School. We had a ‘Solar Cake Lottery’ until each classroom in the school had won one of our cakes, eagerly delivered by the students,” she explained.

Just recently, a former student found Linda again by searching her name along with Solar Cookers International on the Internet, leading to their happy reunion. “We now correspond about cooking and other things. How rewarding is that,” Linda said.

As a retiree, Linda now has time to use her cooker almost every day during the summer. “I have minimal air-conditioning in my house, and letting the sun provide the energy keeps my kitchen cool,” she said.

Speaking on the environmental movement and popularization of solar cooking, Linda said people seem to be fascinated with the concept of solar cooking but few make the leap to “own” it. “I think we’re getting close to a time when many people see it as an alternative to wood, gas or electric cooking to minimize carbon output. Now that there are spiffy, efficient cookers available that are being sold in environmentally-savvy stores, it may catch on. I feel that the global impetus is gaining momentum and will show the way with positive results in desperate communities. Perhaps there is local appeal for learning the skill and having equipment available for disaster relief,” she said.

At home, she has four cookers, each she uses with a distinct purpose – her original box, which holds a big pan of lasagna; the simple, easy-to-take-along Cook-it; the SOS sport cooker, which is made from recycled plastic and holds two round black pots; and her most-used Sun Oven, which holds one pot, but can be tilted to capture the angles of the sun in the morning and earlier and later seasons of the year, and reaches temperatures slightly more than 300 degrees.

Rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, potatoes and hard-cooked eggs for potato salad, summer squash, green beans, chili beans, pea soup, lasagna, steel cut oats, corn bread, spare ribs, chicken wings, chicken thighs, whole chicken, chicken broth from the bones, meatloaf, pot roast, pork shoulder for sliders, pasta sauce, taco filling, apple sauce, peach galette, cookies, and cake are all regular solar cooking menu items.

Linda has been involved with Solar Cooking International for more than 20 years. She remembers fondly the big cook-out she participated in on the west side of the Capitol many years ago with cookers covering the whole lawn. “It’s amazing how many box cookers were active in those days. Being a demonstrator at the California State Fair year after year was another highlight. For several years, I served as a volunteer coordinator for demonstration requests and bonded with many like-minded friends who were willing to give their time, often in full-sun, that way. We went to Earth Day events, the (Sacramento) Zoo, Davis Whole Earth Festival, SNFC (Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op), downtown businesses and state buildings, school campuses, etc. During these last few years, I helped by hosting gatherings in my backyard for the SCI family and making donations.”

Currently, Linda is gearing up for Solar Cooking International’s convention in Sacramento during the week of July 13. “The guests are from different parts of Africa. I’m looking forward to hearing about their African projects. Knowing that solar cooking can make a big impact on communities where fuel is scarce and water can be made safe for drinking by pasteurizing with the sun, is the biggest positive outcome for this simple low-technology of passive solar cooking,” she said.

The convention culminates in a daylong festival in William Land Park on Saturday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be solar cooking demonstrations by local and international chefs, solar cooking classes, a solar chef picnic, and kids’ activities. For more information, visit

Know your neighbors: Don Coan and Barbara Jodry

“I enjoy using the sun for baking during the summer. It saves on gas and doesn’t heat up the house.” –Don Coan, East Sacramento resident, Solar Cookers International Order of Excellence (2009), SCI Volunteer of the Year (1989, 1993)

East Sacramento residents Don Coan and Barbara Jodry bought a nice, new stove in 2000, only to have used it maybe a dozen times since then. “We like to do the Thanksgiving turkey in it,” laughs Barbara. “It’s a running joke. We just really like to use our solar cooker,” she said.

Living on 38th Street near F Street, the two helped spawn an annual “solarcue” down the street in Rick and Heidi Kantola’s sunny front yard.

As solar cooking conventions started taking place around the world, Barbara and Don thought: “Why couldn’t we do it in the neighborhood?” So they did, “solarcue” fashion. “It seemed like a lie to call it a solar barbecue, but they started calling it a ‘barbaracue’ because my name is Barbara. As you can tell, we have a sense of humor here. This was in the nineties, early in our efforts to boost publicity about solar cooking,” Barbara said.

For several summers on a day near the solstice, Don and Barbara attracted quite a few passersby who saw the solarcue. “Barbara and I were just looking at the home movie that a friend of ours took of one those events. It was great to be reminded about that period in our lives,” Don, who is 87 years old and until just a few weeks ago stopped volunteering regularly inside the Solar Cooking International office, located at 1919 21st St., No. 203, received the organization’s Order of Excellence award in 2009 and the SCI Volunteer of the Year award in 1989 and again in 1993. SCI facilitates humanitarian and environmentally focused partnerships around the world through a database of connections. As an umbrella organization to numerous groups that try to spread solar cooking worldwide, SCI helps facilitate partnerships.

Sold on the logic of solar cooking instantly when Sacramento State University professor, Dr. Bob Metcalf, first introduced the cooking methods to them in the 1980s at a demonstration at Sacramento State University, Barbara said it seemed “like idiocy to walk away from.”
“If the sun could give you sunburn, why wouldn’t it cook food?” she asked.

At the time, 1988, Don had just retired from his career as the Sacramento County Welfare Department (now Department of Social Services) Bureau Chief. Not one to really “retire,” Don described how he became involved with his then-newfound passion of solar cooking. “I was looking around for interesting things to do other than going fishing or that kind of stuff and it happened there was an article in Christian Science Monitor on solar cooking and there happened to be an office in Sacramento that promotes solar cooking. They said, ‘if you send in a dollar to this address, then you can get the instructions to construct a solar box.’”

So, he learned to make his own solar box cooker out of cardboard and figured he might as well help teach others how to do the same thing. And he put in volunteer work once a week doing “one thing or another” for Solar Cookers International. As the organization grew, his ability and interest grew too.

Shortly after they learned how to solar cook, Don and Barbara began raiding bins in the back of local businesses for cardboard boxes – a basic solar cooking material. “We’d get permission and take away corrugated cardboard and build a box, 30 by 30 inches. We insulated it with crumpled paper. The idea was to build something from practically nothing, something poor people could handle,” Barbara said.

As Barbara and Don became recognized for their solar cooking demonstrations, they were asked to exhibit their methods at the California State Fair, compliments of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, Barbara said. “We were there in the nineties for four to five years. (SMUD) paid our fair entry fee. We were in the farm area near the forestry area where they were demonstrating corn,” she recalled.

A few years ago, when the two visited the fair, Barbara said the area where they used to exhibit solar cooking had been replaced by the pony rides, which upset her, but she said the blacksmith who set up right near there was the same blacksmith demonstrating in the nineties. “Well, he needed to bring a lunch and he would heat his own food (with the solar cookers). So when he saw me, he said, ‘I wish you folks were back so you could heat a meal for me,’” Barbara recalled.

Discussing their involvement with worldwide conferences, Don said he and Barbara went to their first conference in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. “This was a conference related to environmental issues. We had cookers there to show people how they worked.”

Explaining further, Barbara said: “We went down there and took our solar cookers. We weren’t with the high muckety-mucks discussing world environmental issues. We were demonstrating one small solution cooking using the sun versus fossil fuels and how the process is not endangering lives.”

The array of issues solar cooking impacts spans the gamut of women’s, health, poverty and the environment.

Women’s issues: Besides the mere time savings a woman has for other things when cooking with the sun, their own personal safety is guarded, explained Solar Cooking International’s Executive Director, Julie Greene, a Pocket resident.

Health: Besides helping to prepare food, the solar cookers have been used to pasteurize water.

In 72 water samplings in Kenya, 52 of them had E. coli, so SCI representatives taught people how to pasteurize water in a Cook-it. “It kills Giardia. It kills cholera, Hep A and rotavirus and all these things we are really familiar with,” Greene said. “We’ve been told the children stop complaining that their tummies hurt,” she said. Many people in Kenya believe that water is a gift from God and therefore drink from swamps and streams.

Environmental issues: With depleted forests in Kenya due to increased population, many of the indigent would focus on the environment if their needs weren’t so great. “So if (SCI) can provide people with these (solar cookers), there are so many benefits,” Greene said.

Come see for yourself: SCI is currently getting ready for the Solar Cooking Festival to be held this year in William Land Park on July 18; 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sacramento Solar Cooking Festival in William Land Park. The event is free and open to the public. So come and enjoy solar cooking demonstrations, and classes on how to make and use solar cookers, and international work with solar cooking. Access Sacramento has provided a grant to broadcast this event locally.

The festival is the culmination of the fifth International Solar Cooking Convention, to be held in Sacramento. This event is drawing solar cooking experts from Uganda, Kenya, Indian, South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Norway, Germany, Bolivia, Nicaragua, the United States and the Philippines. Experts will address challenges in design, project management, and testing standards for solar cookers worldwide. Referring to this first convention of its kind since 2006, Bernhard Muller, retired Manager of Research and Development for Mueller Solartechnik, Germany, says, “This convention will be a milestone, and the world will talk about it for years.”

To learn more or to join the event on Facebook, visit

California State Fair begins 17-day run July 12

Boy with Beef Cow

Boy with Beef Cow

For many decades, the California State Fair has been known as a well attended event that offers something for everyone. And this year’s edition of the fair is no different.
The buzz regarding the fair, which begins tomorrow, Friday, July 12, and continues until Sunday, July 28, was already in full swing last week when this publication visited with various residents and visitors of the community.
Arden area resident Michelle Jackson said that she is looking forward to the fair’s free concert series.

Roy and Deidra Bagley and their 12-year-old son, Jarek, are among the many families who have made coming to the State Fair an annual tradition. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Roy and Deidra Bagley and their 12-year-old son, Jarek, are among the many families who have made coming to the State Fair an annual tradition. Photo by Lance Armstrong

“I like seeing the concerts,” Jackson said. “In the past, I’ve seen Ciara, Nicki Minaj and some other (artists at the fair). The Four Tops (on July 15) and Kool and the Gang (on July 25) at this year’s fair will be awesome.”
Other artists that will be performing at the fair include Night Ranger (July 12), Weird Al Yankovic (July 14), the Journey tribute band, Evolution (July 19), Grand Funk Railroad (July 20), EnVogue (July 22), Air Supply (July 24) and the Queen tribute band, Queen Nation (July 26).
Jackson added that she also likes going to the fair with two particular groups of people.
“I like going with the (special needs) kids, and I do it for my job,” Jackson said. “I take care of the (special needs children) and the elderly. I usually go with them and have a special day with that. We take the whole group and we get as many volunteers as we can get and let (people in these groups) do the fishing, let them see the animals, let them do whatever they can do at the fair.”
Tahoe Park resident Carol Doring also mentioned music, as well as animal exhibits and food, among her favorite fair attractions.
“I like (those things), and the overall ambience of the fair,” Doring said. “I like the feeling of being with all the people, the happiness that’s there. You don’t see any fights or rowdiness during the day. I’ve been (to the fair) every year for about the last 16, 17 years. And there’s been some improvements, so for the most part it’s better.”
And in commenting about the fair’s food, Carol said that she is a big fan of the funnel cakes.
While observing a schedule of events for the fair, Carmichael resident Doug Drewes pointed to a photograph of the fair’s newest ride, Vertigo, and said, “What’s that (ride)? I just like rides and (having) fun with the kids. I bring my children.”
While en route to go shopping in the Arden area, Yuba City residents Roy and Deidra Bagley and their 12-year-old son, Jarek, noted that they were looking forward to attending the fair on July 16.
“We know we’re going to see the Third Day concert on the 16th,” said Deidra with an enthusiastic tone to her voice.
“One of my favorite things is the Ferris wheel,” Jarek said. “I also like the animals.”
And in response to her son’s comment, Deidra added, “The 16th is kids’ day and all rides are a buck.”
Continuing, Diedra said, “We wouldn’t mind seeing (country and pop singer) LeAnn Rimes (on June 23), but we’ll see.”
Despite his young age, Jarek is much braver than many adults when it comes to eating unusual fair food.
“I like the Rocky Mountain oysters, rattlesnake (meat), buffalo burgers,” Jarek said.
But even Jarek has his limits to such adventures, as during one visit to the fair, he refused to eat chitlins.
“Sometimes I get scared,” Jarek said.

Elk Grove residents Jim and Shiela Tonel give thumbs up to the California State Fair. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Elk Grove residents Jim and Shiela Tonel give thumbs up to the California State Fair. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Roy said that attending the fair has becoming a tradition for his family.
“We’ve come to the fair pretty much every year for the last 10 years,” he said. “I just enjoy being with the family and hanging out. I also like going through the shops and seeing the cool, new gadgets and stuff like that that are for sale there.”
Reina Ortiz, who resides in the city’s Foothill Farms area, also makes coming to the fair a family activity.
“I have three kids, so they love the rides and the food is one of the best (fair offerings),” Ortiz said. “Funnel cakes, those are our favorites. And those (brick of) fries, you know the huge ones? Those are good. We buy one for the three kids and myself and my husband. That’s enough calories for everybody, so not just me. I like to see the magicians. That’s my favorite.”
And like many fairgoers, Ortiz is interested in many of this year’s live music performers.
While pointing to different areas of a listing of the fair’s concerts, Ortiz said, “I’ll probably see this one, this one and this one. I like that (kind of) music. It’s like music that you can understand that has a good message. Nowadays, musicians, they just sing about anything, stupid things, ridiculous things. They’re always (using) obscene language. That’s not good for kids. All bands, they used to sing about love, about situations in your life. That’s what I like, and that’s why I like those kinds of groups.”
Elk Grove resident Jim Tonel, who will be attending this year’s fair with his family, said that he is drawn to the demolition derby (July 19 and 20) and the Sacramento Mile flat track motorcycle racing event (July 27).
Jim, who performed at last year’s fair with a local Filipino association, said that he also enjoys the fair’s rides and food, and noted that he is especially a fan of the corn dogs and barbecued turkey legs.
This year’s fair will include a variety of other attractions, including live horse racing (July 12, 13, 14, 17 and 21), the Brewers’ Festival (July 20), Friday and Saturday night fireworks shows, the Hall of Heroes interactive exhibit, and The Farm, an award-winning demonstration farm.
Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Admission to the fair is $10/general, $8/seniors, 62 and older, $6/children 5 to 12, and free/ages 4 and younger.
For additional details about the 2013 State Fair, visit the Web site

Taste of Carmichael spotlighted ‘Carmichael’s only winery’: Wreckless Blenders

The Kiwanis Club of Carmichael hosted the 11th annual Taste of Carmichael on May 18 at the La Sierra Community Center. The event, which is a major fundraiser for the club, benefits some 70 different local children’s charities including Little League, boy scouts, girl scouts, fine arts programs, and parks and recreation.

Twenty-five food vendors and 10 wine vendors were on hand for the festivities. The food covered a wide range of delicacies from local eateries. Among the myriad of things to try were Indian, Afghani, Vietnamese, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese and Persian food. There was a chocolate fountain as well for those in attendance with a sweet tooth.

There were cars on display from Jaguar, Subaru, Chevrolet and Mazda. The Effie Yeaw Nature Center and the Chautauqua Playhouse had booths set up as well. Altogether there were 58 booths full of food, wine and information. Congressman Ami Bera made an appearance as well.

Three live bands (Rio Jazz, Sister Swing and Vintage Fare) serenaded the crowd. “The music was just outstanding this year,” said event co-chair Rod Ward.

Spotlighted was John Troiano and his Wreckless Blenders winery. It boasts the title of ‘Carmichael’s only winery.’ Troiano, who has a bonded winery in his Carmichael home, brought a case of wines from his 2010 vintage.

Troiano began making wine in the late 1970s in New York before moving to California in 1987. He buys his grapes from the state and ferments them in his home winery. Troiano was unaware of the Taste of Carmichael event until he attended it in 2012.

“I’ve been here since 1993 and I didn’t know about it,” Troiano said.

He thought it was a neat community endeavor and decided to get involved in 2013. Wreckless Blenders has been in business since 2008, selling wine mostly through wine clubs, said Troiano.

In 2012, Wreckless Blenders entered four wines into the commercial wine competition at the California State Fair. Three of the wines received a gold award and the fourth received a silver award. Troiano said that he has entered wines in the upcoming 2013 California State Fair as well and is awaiting results.

The event, which had a ticket price of $35, regularly brings in north of 500 people, according to event co-chair George White. There were 150 items up for grabs in a raffle as well as other great prizes that were left to a silent auction.

Many of the raffle prizes included gift baskets that included wine, beer and restaurant gift certificates. Among the silent auction prizes up for grabs to the highest bidder were a lunch with congressman Bera, a sailboat trip on the San Francisco Bay, a fly fishing trip on the Yuba River, and several different kinds of wine.

This year’s event may have been more lightly attended than past events, according to some attendees, but the weather was warm, the food was good, the music was swingin’ and the wine was flowin’.

Climbing up the Bell Tower of St. Mary’s Church

As I drove down M Street toward St. Mary’s Church last week, I gazed up at its bell tower, which dominates the skyline in our neighborhood. It harkened up a long-since forgotten memory.
When I reached 12 years of age, I became an altar boy at the church. In that capacity, I had responsibility for assisting the priests in the service of mass. During that time, a Catholic Brother named George, headed up the altar boy team. He was a nice man, who often played touch football with the boys in the yard at St. Mary’s School. The good brother made sure each service of mass went off without a hitch, so he was always on site at the church when we performed our duties.
One Saturday morning after mass, my fellow altar boy and best friend Lou Viani and I stood talking with Brother George in front of the church. During our conversation, Lou asked the brother if he had ever been up the bell tower of the church. George said he had, and then asked, “Would you like to go up there some time?” Lou and I responded with a resounding, “yes.” Then Brother George said, “I am too busy to do that today, but if you guys meet me here next Thursday, at 7 p.m., I will take you up there.” Wow, we could hardly wait.
So it was, on the next Thursday, Lou and I met Brother George on the front steps of the church, where he let us into the vestibule. From there, we proceeded up the stairway to the glass-enclosed children’s room in the back of the church, then up another flight of stairs to the choir room. There facing the choir room stood a locked door which George unlocked and let us in. Inside the room, we looked straight up to the top of the bell tower. Now we were really exited.
We followed Brother George up four flights of stairs to a stoop at the very top. He then reached up and pulled down a retractable ladder which he climbed up and then slung open a trap door. Into the tower he went and then waved us up. Within seconds, we sat in the tower overlooking the entire landscape of the city of Sacramento. The views were incredible. Looking north we saw Sacramento State College and the H Street Bridge, with cars streaming across it in the waning light. Looking west we saw the lighted dome of the California State Capitol building. Over in the south, we viewed the California State Fair, with lights ablaze as the fair had just opened up.
We sat up in the tower for about 15 minutes, taking in all the sights and wafting in the warm air of a Sacramento Summer night. Finally, Brother George said, “we better get out of here now boys, before it gets too dark. So, down we went to the first floor of the church where we said our good bys and headed home.
I have never forgotten that experience. In the intervening years I have ascended the Eiffel Tower, rode an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building and gone to the top of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai, China, but I think none of those adventures made a greater impression on me than climbing to the top of the St. Mary’s Church bell tower: another unforgettable Janey Way memory.

Greek Festival to be held August 31 through September 2

The 49th Annual Greek Festival, which will have a new feature of an entertainment stage in the center of the venue, will be held Labor Day weekend at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., from Friday, Aug. 31 through Sunday, Sept. 2. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for ages 12 and older, $4 for seniors 55 and older and free for children ages 11 and younger. Admission is also free for anyone attending the event on Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation is not only known for its historic East Sacramento church complex west of McKinley Park, but also for its annual Greek Festival.
And playing an important role in the founding of this event was Eugene Fotos, who was raised in East Sacramento.
Today, the event is recognized as one of the state’s most popular Greek festivals. But the event, which was first held on Nov. 15, 1964, had a much more humble beginning.

The beginning
Cosmas Alliapoulos, who was serving as president of the Greek Community of Sacramento and Vicinity (which was incorporated on Jan. 30, 1920), attended one of the earliest editions of the Greek Festival presented by St. Basil Greek Orthodox Christian Church in Stockton.
The event was first held at the Stockton Civic Auditorium in 1960.
Inspired by St. Basil’s Greek Festival, Alliapoulos asked Fotos, who was already a longtime Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation member, to chair a local food faire.
Fotos accepted the role of the event’s chair and began working with Lillian Psihopaidas, who served as the faire’s co-chair.
This faire, which is recognized as the first Sacramento Greek Festival, was the most modest edition of this now longtime, annual event.
This inaugural event, which was attended by 718 people at the Hellenic Center on Alhambra Boulevard and included a band, dancing and a pastry booth with few sales, netted $2,556.
Fotos said that a large part of this pastry booth’s inability to be successful was due to the fact that people were dancing around the booth.
“Because the people were dancing around the booth, (the booth’s manager) Mrs. (Vasiliki) Manolis, couldn’t sell the pastries,” Fotos recalled. “She had 8-foot tables (to display the pastries). The band started playing and pretty soon people started dancing around the tables and the poor thing, (Manolis), said, ‘I can’t sell. I can’t sell.’”

Eppie at the festival
In 1966, the festival was relocated to the Scottish Rite Temple at 6151 H St.
Among those in attendance at the 1966 festival, which raised $4,200, were Fotos, Bill Demas, Perry Georgallis and Eppie Johnson.
Johnson, who had opened Eppie’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop at 3001 N Street in East Sacramento about two years earlier, drew much attention at the event, as he wore a traditional Greek fustanella – an article of clothing similar to a Scottish kilt.
In remembering Eppie’s appearance at the 1966 festival, Fotos said, “I was shocked after I saw that. I couldn’t believe it. Usually (these fustanellas) are white and blue. But what did Eppie have? He had green or some strange color. And he picked (the color).”
During the latter part of the 1960s and 70s, the site for this event changed several times.
These sites were the Governor’s Hall on the old State Fairgrounds at Stockton Boulevard and Broadway, the Country Club Plaza mall parking lot, Jesuit High School and the grounds of the Greek Orthodox Church, next to the Hellenic Center.
Fotos said that the festival at Jesuit High proved to be a very lengthy affair.
“In those days, we just had a two-day festival – Saturday and Sunday,” Fotos said. “We had to pick up everything, because the school was going to be in session the next day. And we worked, we worked, we worked. There weren’t a lot of us working and we drug everything over to the trucks and loaded them on and we got to the church (in East Sacramento) at 7 (o’clock) in the morning. We worked all night long.”

Cal Expo and beyond
During the early 1980s, the festival was held for a couple of years at Cal Expo.
Fotos vividly recalled the 1981 festival, which proved to be a fairly infamous event.
“Just two days before our festival, an indoor rodeo had been held in the same building we were to use (at Cal Expo),” Fotos said. “The remaining multitude of horseflies and the lingering aromatic scent of horses were almost too much to bear.”
The festival was relocated to its present site at the Sacramento Convention Center in 1984, and four years later, the event’s earnings surpassed the $100,000 mark for the first time, as the festival raised $108,657.

Festival food
The festival’s Greek cuisine and desserts collectively serve as a popular draw of the event.
These edibles include dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), souvlaki (meat kabobs), gyros (Greek sandwiches on pita bread), tiropites (cheese puff filo dough triangles), homemade salads, baklava (a rich, flaky filo dough pastry filled with walnuts, butter and cinnamon and soaked in honey) and loukoumathes (honey-dipped donut holes).
Food items such as imported Greek olives, cheeses, crackers, coffees, cookies and candies can also be purchased at the event’s pantopoleon, or Greek grocery store.
Another festival attraction is the agora, or Greek, marketplace, where guests can purchase items such as jewelry, artwork and recorded music.

Other attractions
Also attracting much attention at the festival are Greek dancing groups, who wear festive Greek clothing and perform traditional Greek dances.
As a family-oriented event, the festival also offers various children’s activities.
Fotos, who will turn 80 next month, said that he is proud of the festival’s longtime existence and popularity.
“We are very proud to be of Greek descent and to share our heritage and traditions with Sacramento area people and others,” said Fotos, whose nephew, Father James Retelas, serves as the priest of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation.

Local youth artists ‘step up’ to be counted the State Fair

The Youth Art & Design Expo at the California State Fair has a number of impressive entries this year, with many from Sacramento County students. / Photo by Susan Laird

The Youth Art & Design Expo at the California State Fair has a number of impressive entries this year, with many from Sacramento County students. / Photo by Susan Laird

For the last 158 years, Californians have proudly celebrated the talent and bounty of this great land at the annual California State Fair.
Whether in good times or tough ones, somehow the good folks of the Golden State manage to “step up to the plate” and show why there is always hope for the future.
Case in point, a number of Sacramento County’s youth artists – those in middle school and high school – submitted art work for the Youth Art & Design Expo. This is juried art show at the State Fair. And the young people did very well.
In fact, there were some 840 entries from Sacramento County’s young people that were judged good enough to win ribbons for first, second and third places, plus honorable mention. Not every entry was awarded a ribbon, so honorable mentions from this juried show are a significant accomplishment.
The titles of the submitted works are lively and imaginative – and seeing the creativity and talent of this younger generation is a great encouragement to fairgoers, as well as fun entertainment.

Here are a few of the schools in the Valley Community Newspapers readership area that are represented at this year’s fair:
West Campus High School

Pocket resident Isabel Moniz won first place for “Ode to Nature” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking) and a third place ribbon for “Feathers” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking). Arden Middle School
Jessica Allen received an impressive seven ribbons for multiple entries in different art categories at this year’s fair. Her 3D sculpture, “Googlie,” received an IMCO Ceramics Award and a second place ribbon. Two more 3D sculptures, “Chicken” and “Peace of Pie” received honorable mentions. Jessica received two third place ribbons for “Lucid Mindset” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking) and “Glow” (Photography). She received an additional honorable mention for “Tree of Life” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking).
Sam Brannan Middle School
Erinn Wong won a second place ribbon for “My Memory of Grandma Po Gee Lo” (Scrapbooks & Collections).
California Montessori Project
Sarah Bauer won two first place ribbons for her photography in the age 5 to 9 category. Her images of “Graffiti Wall” and “One Lonely Light” are on display. She received an honorable mention for “Chinese Restaurant.”
Christian Brothers High School
Morgan Gable won a second place ribbon for “Moon and Sun” (Wood items) and an honorable mention for “Cabin Sweet Cabin” (Any Other Craft or Hobby).
Julia Grajeda won the Best of Class trophy and a first place ribbon for her “Travel Backpack” in the Any Other Sewing Project category. She won two additional first place ribbons for “Plaid Sweatshirt” (Single Clothing Item) and “Pretty Pink Pillow” (Any Other Sewing Project). Julie also won a red ribbon for “Tie-Dye Tote Bag” (Any Other Sewing Project) and a third place ribbon for “Purple Skirt” (Single Clothing Item).
Crocker Riverside Elementary
Annabelle Long won a first place ribbon for her watercolor painting, “Hungry,” and an honorable mention for her painting, “Awe.”
Del Dayo Elementary
Ressa Eliza Artz received three ribbons at the fair: first place for “The Call of Autumn” (Quilts), first place for “Carmelo Mission” (Digitally Manipulated Photography) and an honorable mention for “Pondering Woodpecker” (Photography).
Nathaniel Heron received a third place ribbon for his entry, “Frosty Friend” (Mixed Media).
Mary Deterding Elementary
This local school had a significant number of entries at this year’s fair.
Liliana Adkins won a second place ribbon for her Mixed Media category entry, “Transformation.”
Azul Baker received an honorable mention for “Wild Warrior” (Any Other Craft or Hobby).
Christopher Chang won third place for “Eagles’ Eye” (Paintings).
Harper Colby won a first place ribbon for his “Sea Turtle Seascape” (Paintings).
Benjamin Davis received an honorable mention for his “Ramshead Still Life” (Watercolor).
Sophia Deboer received an honorable mention for “New York” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking).
Mark Elliott won a second place ribbon for his Pastel & Charcoal entry, “Chimera.”
Bella Espinosa won two first place ribbons for “Pastel Piece” (Pastel & Charcoal) and “Plants in the Sunlight” (Watercolor).
Kailey Hall won the Prismacolor Art Excellence Award and a first place ribbon for “Leaves And Caterpillars” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking).
Jack Harris won third place for “Still Life In Spain” (Watercolor).
William Heron won first place for his “Self Portrait” (Watercolor).
Tucker Marlin received an honorable mention for his Mixed Media entry, “The Super Gumball Machine.”
Ethan McHugh won two third place ribbons for “Monsters at Sea” (Mixed Media) and “Red Eyed Bird” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Ashley Poole won a second place ribbon for her 3D Sculpture entry, “The Spirit Of The Walrus.”
Levi Rankin won the Fay Schusterman Award and first place for his Mixed Media work, “Dragons Of The Sun.”
Hunter Witham received an honorable mention for “Pastoral Seraffito” (Mixed Media).
Hallie Yong received an honorable mention for her Pastel & Charcoal entry, “Cupcakes for Sale.”
Vivian Zerkle won a second place ribbon for “Washington Monument” and a third place ribbon for “Cherry Blossom” both in the Photography category. She received honorable mentions for “Sinningia bullata” (Photography) and “Botany And A Bug” (Watercolor).
Genevieve Didion Elementary
Derek Yuan won a first place ribbon for “Pacific Fair” (Mixed Media), second place ribbons for “Sunset On The Shore” (Watercolor) and “After Snow” (Pastel & Charcoal). He received honorable mentions for his Pastel & Charcoal entries, “What A Blossom!” and “Enjoy The Vacation, Enjoy The Life!”
Evan Yuan won a first place ribbon for his Mixed Media entry, “Three Pals.”
John F. Kennedy High School
Kelly Peng received honorable mentions for her Pastel & Charcoal entries, “Chinese Orchid” and “Spring Bird.”
Briana Santiago won a first place ribbon for “No Two Alike” (Mixed Media).
Casey Wong won a third place ribbon for her 3D Sculpture entry, “Scenic Lantern” and received an honorable mention for “Bridge Of Hope” (Wood Items).
Matsuyama Elementary
Gabriela Ham won two third place ribbons for “Cherry Blossom Hills” (Mixed Media) and “Spring Fountain” (3D Sculpture). She received an honorable mention for “Easter Bunny” (Paintings).
Lauren Ham won second place for “A Day In Fruit Garden” (Pastel & Charcoal). She received honorable mentions for “Rose And Butterflies” (Watercolor) and “My Neighbor’s Dog” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Janice Ng won a first place ribbon for “Myths of Dragon” (Mixed Media) and a third place ribbon for “Birds’ Paradise” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking).
C.K. McClatchy High School
Maxwell Bauer’s photography was well received at the fair. Maxwell won first place for “Primary Houses,” a third place ribbon for “A Modern Concert” and an honorable mention for “Rows.”
Sierra Brown won a blue ribbon for “Spirals of Smoke” (Photography) and a second place ribbon for “A Cat Always Nose” (Photography). Sierra received honorable mentions for “Another Day on the Farm” (Photography) and “Jack the Rabbit” and “Overflowing” (both 3D Sculpture).
Mira Loma High School
Sarah Liu received honorable mentions for “Two Orchids in Bloom” and “Hibiscus With Leaves,” both in the Pastel & Charcoal category.
Mission Avenue Open School
Jake Reuter received an honorable mention for “Crysanthimum” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Tina Reuter won a first place ribbon for “Your Heart Is In My Hands” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School
Caroline Crowley received an honorable mention for her Watercolor entry, “Penguino.”
Cecilia Crowley won a first place ribbon for “Birch Trees” (Paintings) and two honorable mentions for “Beaded Garden” (3D Sculpture) and “Time” (Wood Items).
Presentation School
Jake Melavic won first place for “Coit Tower In Spring” (Watercolor).
Megan Melavic received two honorable mentions for “Owl” and “Sea Life” (both Pastel & Charcoal entries).
Rio Americano High School
Aaron Boulger won first place for “New Orleans Entertainer” and third place for “Domino Sugar” (both Photography). He received an honorable mention for “Mather Bunkers” (Photography).
Leah Curry won a second place ribbon for “Water Drop Rose” (Watercolor).
Austin Hicks won Best of Class and first place for “Taxi Tails” (Photography). Austin also won first place for “You Caught Me” and second place for “A Warning in Red” (both Photography).
Saint Francis High School
Always a powerhouse in the world of the arts, the Troubadours proved that they continue to have “the right stuff” at the State Fair. Art is just a one semester requirement at St. Francis, but over 80 percent of the student body take additional art classes.
Tessie Berghoff won third place for “The Dark Rose” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Katie Chappelle won third place for her untitled work in Photography.
Jessica Cosca won second place for “I’m Thirsty” (Photography).
Megan Daly won first place for “Synesthesia” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Morgan Finegan won second place for “Tears” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Megan Foy received an honorable mention for “Maya” (Paintings).
Jessica Gutierrez won third place for “Flora” and received an honorable mention for “Laconsentida” (both Photography).
Grace Hollingsworth won first place for “Angel” (Photography).
Clarissa James won third place for “Above Bunny Falls” (Paintings).
Jinyan Li received an honorable mention for “Blessed Mother” (Paintings).
Victoria Ogorodnikov received an honorable mention for “Spence In The Kitchen” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Bianca Quiroz received an honorable mention for “True Beauty & Snow Queen” (Digitally Manipulated Photography).
Gabriella Riegos won second place for “Tomassy” (Digitally Manipulated Photography).
Melanie Rogers-Mantel received honorable mentions for “Venice In Blue” (Paintings) and “Self Portrait” (Pastel & Charcoal).
Natalia Smith won third place for “Tiger” (Pen, Pencil & Printmaking).
Kenall Spector received an honorable mention for “The White Moon” (Digitally Manipulated Photography).
Danielle Villaluna won first place for “A Bus In London” (Pastel & Charcoal) and received an honorable mention for “Gypsy” (Mixed Media).
Sydney Wall won a third place ribbon for her “Self Portrait” (Photography).
Frances Wiese won a third place ribbon for “Native To The Sun” (Mixed Media).
Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish School
William Legrand received an honorable mention for “Foothill Cottage” (Paintings).
Kaj Olson won a third place ribbon for “Velvet Two” (Photography).
Saint Mary Elementary School
LeeAnn Matthews received much recognition for her sewing talents. LeeAnn won first place ribbons for “Blue Dot Skirt” (Single Clothing Item) and “Pillow Fight Pack” (Any Other Sewing Project), second place ribbons for “Calico Flower” (Quilts) and “It’s a Hoot” (Quilts) and a third place ribbon for “Groovy Dot” (Single Item Clothing).
Amelia Ross received an honorable mention for “Hearts On A String” (3D Sculpture).
Fiona Ross won a third place ribbon for “Green Scarf” (Needlecraft).
Shalom School
Oliver Black won first place for his 3D Sculpture entry, “Folding Cup.”
Daniel Levine won third place for “Hamburger” (3D Sculpture).
Zoe Osorio received an honorable mention for “Blooming” (3D Sculpture).
Sutter Middle School
Benjamin Bauer won a third place ribbon for “Tic-Tac-Toe” and an honorable mention for “Patterns” (both Photography).
Santana Garcia won two third place ribbons for “Puddle of Youth” and “You Make Beautiful Things” (both Photography). Santana also received an honorable mention for “Nature’s Heart” (Photography).
Caitlin McLaughlin won third place for “Beautiful Treasures” and received an honorable mention for “Unique” (both Pen, Pencil & Printmaking).
Aaron Won won first place for “Escape” and received honorable mentions for “Mysterious Garden” and “Reflection” (all Watercolor).
The California State runs through July 29 at Cal Expo, located at 1600 Exposition Boulevard in Sacramento. Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Visit for admission and Midway information.

159th State Fair opens at Cal Expo

This year’s State Fair offers a wide variety of midway rides and other attractions. / Photo courtesy of the California State Fair

This year’s State Fair offers a wide variety of midway rides and other attractions. / Photo courtesy of the California State Fair

The California State Fair has a long history, which has created fond memories for many Sacramento residents, others throughout the state and beyond.
And this year’s fair, which opens today and continues through July 29, is loaded with many attractions that will deliver a variety of new memories.
In taking a ride down memory lane,  one can observe the fair’s long tradition of fun-filled attractions.

1862 State Fair
One hundred and fifty years ago, the fair was only in its eighth year, and only a year had passed since the state legislature designated Sacramento as the fair’s permanent location.
This was the 1862 fair, which followed the city’s great flood of 1861-62.
Persevering through this tragedy, which caused Venice-like waterway scenes through its streets, Sacramento was able to present a very successful fair.
The Sacramento Union noted in its Oct. 4, 1862 edition that the number of people who arrived at the 1862 fair exceeded expectations.
This article stated: “The ground at the park yesterday was fairly covered with people and carriages. At no time last year were there as many persons present as were there about two o’clock yesterday. The wonder was where the thousands present could have come from. It was a proud day for the State Fair, as well as for Sacramento, as a great many had predicted that the attempt to hold a fair this year would prove a mortifying failure.”
During this Civil War-era fair, which was held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, 1862, the public viewed displays showcasing the state’s fine selection of fruits.

This exhibit, which was presented at the Pavilion at 6th and M streets (now Capitol Mall), was even more impressive, when considering the time of year that the fair was being held. Wool and woolen goods were also on display at the Pavilion. And at the park, the public also viewed exhibitions of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs and a machine for grinding sugar cane, and its accompanying evaporator.

The receipts for the 1862 fair, which included a closing evening ball at the Pavilion, totaled more than $11,000.

1887 State Fair

Nearly 125 years have passed since the Sept. 12 opening of the two-week-long 1887 fair. It was in that year that the State Fair suddenly had competition, as the local Mechanics’ Institute opted to hold its annual exhibition from Sept. 1 through Oct. 8.

However, this conflict in scheduling did not impede the 1887 State Fair from achieving success.

In less than one week after the opening of the fair, The Union, in its Sept. 17, 1887 edition, declared the event a “complete success.”

In its Sept. 16, 1887 edition, The Sacramento Bee reported that “strangers continue to pour into Sacramento on every train to attend the State Fair” and “every wagon road is lined with vehicles.”

Among the greatest attractions at the 1887 fair were the horse races, which were reported upon in detail in the local, daily newspapers of the time.
Receiving much attention in the aforementioned edition of the Bee was a horse named Black Diamond.

In one report on Black Diamond’s success, the Bee noted, “Those who had (bet on Black Diamond) from the start, and at big odds, were wild with delight.”

1912 State Fair
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1912 State Fair, which was only the third consecutive time the fair was held at the Stockton Boulevard fairgrounds.

As in previous years, the 1912 fair drew many spectators to its livestock shows. The Sept. 14, 1912 edition of the Bee featured details about the fair’s notable cattle, including Aralia De Ko, the then-world champion for butter fat.
In a single year, this Holstein produced 910 pounds of butter fat, 28,000 pounds of milk and 1,137 pounds of butter.

Held from Sept. 12-21, the 59th annual fair opened with a downtown parade with cowboys and charioteers.

Other attractions included the first California State Fair Round-Up, which became an annual event, fireworks at the grandstand, and Odell, “The Bee Wizard,” who enclosed himself in a cage and allowed bees to swarm all over his body, without suffering a single sting.

1937 State Fair
The popularity of the fair continued to increase throughout the years, leading to the event’s distinction as the largest fair in the United States in 1938, when more than 600,000 people attended the fair.

This high attendance mark was made possible through the assistance of the fairgrounds’ 1937 expansion from 80 acres to 155 acres. The expansion included a new racetrack grandstand and horse show arena.

The 1937 fair opened for the first day of its 10-day run on Friday morning, Sept. 3. The day represents the first time that the California State Fair began on a Friday.

The start of the fair was marked by thousands of school children who walked in a parade from McClatchy Park to the fairgrounds.

Popular attractions at the 1937 fair were horse shows, a $1.5 million display of livestock, Foley & Burke carnival shows with various rides and machines, the Lottie Mayer disappearing water ballet, a pig-feeding contest, free motion pictures showings, concerts, a nightly fireworks show and the introduction of a new lily pond in front of the main fair building.

1987 State Fair
It can be difficult for many people to come to terms with the fact that the 1987 State Fair opened 25 years ago this year.

Held Aug. 21 through Labor Day, Sept. 7, this fair opened with a ceremony in front of the main gate at Cal Expo.

The ceremony included performances by the 561st National Guard band and the California Raisin Advisory Board’s Dancing Raisins, a tree planting by the Sacramento Tree Foundation and an entrance by the Para-Stars, a Sacramento skydiving team.

Other attractions of the 1987 fair were midway rides, harness racing, professional rodeos, pig races, live music, “Monster Truck Madness,” Aztec Indian dancing, agricultural and crafts exhibits, an exotic birds display, fireworks at the grandstand and an evolution of communications display.
Special days of the 1987 fair included Raisin Day, Tomato Day, Cheese Day and Dairy Goat Industry Day.

2012 State Fair
Despite the many fond memories that have been established at previous state fairs, there is one special reason why this year’s fair can be considered the most important. And that reason is an obvious one, as the 2012 fair is the only one that is not a thing of the past.

Guests of this year’s fair, which has the theme, “Fun that Moves You,” will be presented with plenty of reasons to attend.

In addition to typical attractions such as midway rides, livestock shows, agricultural exhibits, live music, corn dogs, turkey legs and unusual food, this year’s fair will host a variety of new attractions.

These attractions include: Guinness World Record attempts such as a Roseville woman’s attempt to ride a Ferris wheel for more than 25 hours; a bull riders-only rodeo; Wizard’s Challenge: A 9,600-square-foot, mostly interactive, Medieval-themed exhibit; and Girl Scouts Zone: An interactive exhibit celebrating 100 years of the Girl Scouts.

Admission to this year’s fair is $12/general, $10/seniors, ages 62 and older, $8/children, ages 5 to 12 and free/children 4 and younger. Parking is $10.

The fairgrounds will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays.

For additional information about this year’s fair, visit

Funderland celebrates 65th anniversary

Thousands upon thousands of children have passed through the gates of Funderland, Land Park’s small-scale, old-fashioned amusement park for young children.

And despite its longtime identity issue, as it is often overshadowed by or confused with its neighboring Fairytale Town, Funderland actually predates Fairytale Town by more than a decade.

Another aspect regarding Funderland, which is located at 1350 17th Ave. in William Land Park, is that despite the fact that there are many people who are aware of Fairytale Town, but not Funderland, the ownership of Funderland actually contributes a portion of its annual gross revenue to the city of Sacramento for the support of Fairytale Town, the Sacramento Zoo and William Land Park. In 2010, for instance, Funderland contributed $178,606 to the city.

But certainly, there are plenty of people who are very aware of Funderland, which was originally known as Kiddie Land.

This is an obvious point, when considering that Kiddie Land/Funderland’s history dates back to 1946.

For more than 30 years, Kiddie Land was owned and operated by its founder Ray Silva (1910-1996).

A Sacramento native, Ray was the son of the Portuguese immigrant Charles Silva (1867-1944), who founded Charles Station, the area that later became known as South Land Park Hills.

In having such a self-motivated, hardworking and business-minded father (read the Charles Silva story at, Ray was led by example, as he developed his own successful life.

In addition to operating Kiddie Land, Ray, who was one of 11 children, also refereed collegiate and American Basketball League (a forerunner to the NBA) games, and later, from 1944 to 1955, he was a referee for the Harlem Globetrotters.

During his last year with the world-famous “Trotters,” Ray did his own globe trotting with the team, as he refereed games in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and many parts of Asia.

Two years following his decade with the Globetrotters, Ray, along with local businessmen, John Silva (not related to Ray) and Edwin A. Beers, founded the Miller Park boat harbor on the Sacramento River.

Ray was also on the planning committee for Fairytale Town, which opened in 1959, and he donated the complex’s pirate ship “in memory of the Charles F. Silva family.”

In his earlier years of life, Ray worked for the city’s recreation department as a supervisor of playgrounds, and in 1928, he founded the Southside Athletic Club, which was an organization dedicated to promoting sports for youth.

Ray, who was a member of the Dante Club soccer team that won the Northern California championship in the 1930s, also played an important role at the California State Fair, as an assistant manager in charge of racing, tickets and rentals from 1931 to 1942.

About a month prior to his 26th birthday on Aug. 16, 1936, Ray married Rosalind Fraser, who had been crowned the first Miss Sacramento a year earlier.

Ray and Rosalind’s only child, Raelyn (Silva) Paige, who was born in 1941 and owned Kiddie Land from 1978 to 1983, said that her father opened Kiddie Land with only a merry-go-round.

Ray later added about eight other rides that furthered the amusement park’s reputation as a favorite destination for many Sacramento children.

Sacramento native Don Conner said that he may have visited Kiddie Land as early as 1949, considering that he was born in 1947 and that some of his earliest memories in life are of visiting Kiddie Land.

“I remember going (to Kiddie Land) with my father (Elmer) and on some occasions my mother (Jessie) and my sister (Marcia) would also go,” Conner said. “They had a set of railroad tracks with a miniature train and a conductor with one of those striped, railroad hats and it just went around and around a loop. I also went on the merry-go-round, which was right near the front entrance. It was always delightful with lots of things to distract one’s attention.”

Conner also recalls the other attractions in the area, which included Eddie Fernandes’ pony rides, fishing in the park’s lake and the William Land Park Zoo, as the Sacramento Zoo was then known.

Stan Bento, a 1970 graduate of Christian Brothers High School, worked at Kiddie Land during summers while he was still in high school.

Bento, who noted that Ray emphasized safety and cleanliness at his amusement park, said that rides during this era included the merry-go-round, the railroad, the fish ride, a boat ride and the Tubs of Fun.

The Tubs of Fun were manufactured by Hampton Rides of Portage Des Sioux, Mo. and the carousel was built in 1948 in Buffalo, N.Y. by Allan Hershell.

Remembering these rides is no problem for Bento since he spent time working at each ride.

“We (the workers) would have rotations and we would stand by each ride and I think every hour or every 45 minutes we would rotate to different rides,” Bento recalled.

Among the other Kiddie Land workers during this time were Christian Brothers High School students Kevin Fleming, Mike Fleming and Dennis Bertacchi.

In 1984, carnival operator Sam Johnston purchased Kiddie Land through an auction and after operating the park in its original state, he replaced most of the old rides with completely new rides, which led to a re-grand opening of the amusement park in 1990.

Newer rides at the park include the Flying Dragon roller coaster, the Log Run water log ride and the Crazy Cups ride.

Funderland also includes miniature buildings, which Johnston added throughout the amusement park’s grounds.

Johnston’s history with Ray dates back to 1958, when he helped his father – also Sam Johnston – and Ray put in an amusement facility in Micke Grove Park in Lodi.

In recent years, Johnston’s son-in-law John Dedds has managed Funderland with his wife, Ashley.

Prior to this time and for about three years, Johnston’s other daughter, Spring, managed the amusement park with her husband.

Johnston, who is known for his easy going demeanor and infectious smile, which are both good qualities for a man who operates a place called Funderland, said that he has enjoyed his years at Funderland.

“I’ve got a lot of enjoyment out of providing a safe recreational amusement facility for the children of Sacramento and I want to continue carrying on the tradition that Ray Silva started,” Johnston said. “I don’t feel like I’ve ever worked a day in my life. I love it here.”

Funderland’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

For additional information regarding Funderland, call (916) 456-0131 or visit the Web site,