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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRpOpjRVfDQ.
“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.