A day at the California State Fair

Photo-booth prints capture happy memories

You too can visit the California State Fair through Sunday, July 29. Check out www.bigfun.org for info on tickets, discount days, concert, exhibition and attraction schedules and much more. Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno. His column, Greenlight, appears weekly in this space.

It’s California State Fair time again! I think about the fair nearly every morning when I look at the collection of photo-booth prints sitting on my bedroom mantle.

Starting in 1995, when my son was 7 and my daughter was 3, we took an annual photo in the booth. Usually, the first photo in the series was sort of serious, then, each one would get more and more silly.

The progression of our lives can be seen through these little photos. The missing front tooth, the years where my son wore his little league hat daily, the many different styles of hair and the joy we had being together. In the early photos, I take up a big part of the frame with my two little kids. Then, as the kids get bigger, they take up nearly the whole frame. In some of the later photos, I am hidden in the background with just my nose barely visible.

The photos bring back memories of a happy and exciting day. A day of testing my nerve as the children go on the elephant ride. Or a day of discovery when we watched a baby pig come into the world. And then, when Natasha was into horses, we had to see the horse shows. And when the kids were older, we visited the high-school art shows.

Of course, the rides. In the early years, we struggled with the fact that our planet has arbitrary and unfair laws that somehow deny a person from going on a ride just because of their height. And then, once we’d passed that hurdle, there was the task of determining which ride was too scary, too babyish or just right.

Choosing the ride was always done the same way: by taking turns. Natasha would choose the first ride, then Nick would chose the next. Believe me, much thought went into these hefty decisions.

One decision took no thought, especially when my wife came along. We would be on the Ferris wheel when the nightly fireworks came on. There we could see the whole fair and the fireworks on the only ride that Deborah really liked.

At SN&R, we have worked with the people that put on the California State Fair, people I happen to like. We helped them put together the program that ran in our paper recently. I hope you’ll find it useful when you go to the State Fair.

The original concept of the fair was to celebrate the best in the state. A lot of time, energy and passion went into making all that fun happen, bringing together the animals, the artwork, the food items and the thousands of exhibits at the fair.

So, visit the California State Fair this year. Be sure to stop by the photo booth and capture your own memories.