VALLEJO — The livestock pens were filling up, the carnival rides were being set up – and at the home of the half-pound smoked sausage, Sacramento resident Linda Saevang was preparing to serve up that dish, along with garlic fries.
The Solano County Fair opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday at 900 Fairgrounds Drive in Vallejo and the day before Saevang, fresh from the Santa Barbara County Fair where jalapeno fries were a hit, said the bacon-wrapped hot dog was a favorite there as well.
Saevang, a vegetarian, is a spectator to all the meat eating and recalled visiting a vegan booth at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in June.
“They had the shortest line,” she said of the meat-free concession.
Mark Mazzaferro, city spokesman for Vacaville, stood in Expo Hall at the booth of the municipality that’s giving away “toilet tank banks” at the fair. Bricks, which some people put in tanks to save water, can break down and ruin pipes.
Vallejo is the favorite for the “people’s choice award” as best city booth voted by fair visitors, Mazzaferro said.
“They’ve got a huge home field advantage,” he said.
That leaves Vacaville and Fairfield in the fight for second place – a friendly rivalry, Mazzaferro said.
Ray Hennemann, fair coordinator for Solano County Democrats, has staffed political booths in Shasta and Santa Clara counties but this is his first time in Vallejo. Rural Shasta is Republican territory, Hennemann noted, but he still got good reviews at the fair.
“They’ve always said, ‘You’re very nice for a Democrat,’ ” the 71-year-old retired real estate appraiser said.
At nearby Mick Freese Memorial Sheep Barn, Dixon High student Barolome Martinez, 17, was shearing Tot, a black and white, 5-month-old Hampshire lamb.
“It’s like a haircut,” Martinez said.
The high school senior, who plans a double career in health care and agriculture, earned more than $1,000 last year for college from raising an animal.
Venessa Dunham, whose 16-year-old daughter Dasie has a goat Olaf – named after a character in the movie “Frozen” – and three breeder doe at the fair, said judging of animals at the fair isn’t a beauty contest.
“It’s more than just looks,” Vacaville resident Dunham said.
You have to have good genetics, good structure, good feed and a good exercise program, she said.
Vacaville resident Nicole Smith, 18, sat next to the seven lambs she’s helped her grandmother raise. The drought has helped push up feed prices but doesn’t diminish the fun of the fair for Smith.
Fair spokeswoman Debbie Egidio noted the welcome 10-degree drop in summer temperature from Vacaville to the fairgrounds in Vallejo. Smith, who’ll be starting her second year at Montana State University in Bozeman and plans to become a veterinarian, knows the cold that comes in Montana.
Winter temperatures reached negative 40 last year, Smith said.
“Once you get past negative 10,” she said, “it all feels the same.”
The Solano County Fair with its Cruisin’ the County” theme runs through Sunday. Hours are 3 to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.