If you and your family didn't make it out to the 77th Annual Contra Costa County Fair, you really missed a great family-friendly event. Our family went there Friday and I went there again on Saturday, as I wasn't able to see all the exhibits on Friday.

Special thanks has to go out to the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department for all the active, reserve and explorer officers that patrolled the fairgrounds, along with members of the Contra Costa Probation Department for ensuring that everyone had a fun and safe time.

There were several great bands that provided free concerts that had people dancing, clapping their hands and tapping their toes to Disco, Motown, Country and good old rock 'n' roll.

Those who took advantage of the Groupon online offer for discounted all-day wristbands for the carnival rides got a great deal, just as those who brought three cans of food to donate to the Solano & Contra Costa Food Bank received tokens for free admission to the fair.

The only complaint I heard about was at the outside ticket booths where fairgoers found out that they could not use a credit or debit card to purchase their tickets to get into the fair. And the only ATM was located inside the fairgrounds. That might be one area that the fair board and general manager might want to work on for next year, particularly since there was no signage stating that it was "cash only."


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This might be the first year that there was no fair queen! I never received a reason why that was overlooked this year. I do remember the year that a fair queen was shocked to find out that the 4-H and FFA livestock were to be auctioned off and sent to slaughter. I'm sure that they will never make that mistake again. But I do hope that they advertise for a fair queen next year who can go around the 19 cities to promote the fair.

And while I am speaking about promoting the County Fair, that is another area that the fair board needs to address. It took me several telephone calls and a personal visit to their offices to get a number of posters to place at City Hall, the Senior Center and at Prewett Park to let people know about the fair.

It was so great to see Anna Marie Bustos reappointed to the Board of the 23rd Agricultural District by Gov. Jerry Brown after an absence of several years. Her energy is just what is needed to get more participation by Contra Costa's 19 cities in what is a county fair (even though it is physically located on state property inside the city of Antioch).

I have also long believed that the city of Antioch should embrace the County Fair as the host city -- we'll work on that.

It was good to see some old friends at a special event for local elected and appointed officials Saturday night. Fair board member Louis Mangini, who has known me since I was in 4-H back in the 1950s and 1960s, had a great time reminiscing about all the farm advisers we knew who worked with the 4-H and FFA youth.

And it was great to see Antioch Mayor Wade Harper show up in a western shirt, appropriate belt buckle and cowboy hat, but we'll have to work on him getting some cowboy boots to wear next year. And we'll help Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson get into the western attire for next year as well.

To those who attended the fair, I hope you had a wonderful time and look forward to an even better time next year. For those of you who missed it, we'll do everything we can to get you there next year!

Arne Simonsen is the Antioch city clerk. He can be contacted at arne_simonsen@ci.antioch.ca.us.