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Santa Cruz County Fair Preps for Return

After a year-long hiatus, the Santa Cruz County Fair returns

Mary Bannister rides Glamour at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on Aug. 27 to pull a cultivator in a corn patch as John Kegebein guides the early day tool. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—Teams of volunteers are working to set the stage for the Santa Cruz County Fair, which returns from a one-year hiatus later this month.

From flower plantings to applying fresh coats of paint, volunteers and staff are readying the fairgrounds for a full schedule of events this year following the 2020 pandemic cancelation.

Visitors can expect the standard varied list of displays, demonstrations, activities, shows, food and competitions when the fair runs this year from Sept. 15-19.

Opening day, as usual, will feature a Seniors Day, ($10.00 admission for seniors, 62 and over), Veterans Day (free admission for active duty military with ID) and a Kids Day (free admission for kids 12 and under). 

Live bands, monster trucks and two tractor parades a day will punctuate the fair on top of the standard hobby and collection displays, including quilts, bonsai and floriculture. The pumpkin growing contest and the apple pie baking contest, among others, will also return.

Last week Mary Bannister and John Kegebein sharpened their skills in putting the power of a Clydesdale horse to work by pulling an early day, hand-guided cultivator to aerate and weed a corn patch at the Agricultural History Project. Their efforts will be shown off at several demonstrations throughout the fair to teach visitors how such work was done in the late 1800s up to around 1920.

“These tools were very popular around the country,” said Kegebein, the CEO of the Agricultural History Project. “It was a lot of work. It will be an exciting part of the fair this year, to show people how these things worked with the help of a 2,000-pound horse.” 

The cultivator they were practicing on was eventually replaced by a riding horse-drawn cultivator in the 1920s, which Kegebein said he used in Illinois as a young man.

Visitors can also expect a nearly full range of livestock competitors, 4H entries and various equestrian competitions.

“There will be a few adjustments and changes this year,” said fair manager Dave Kegebein. “We won’t be able to do the kiddie carnival this year. But for the most part, we are aiming to repeat the 2019 fair as best as we can.”

For information, visit santacruzcountyfair.com.

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