It's the closing weekend for the Alameda County Fair, with a wide range of features features that include the Junior Livestock auction, Demolition Derby, the last shows of the concert series and the Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular.
The fireworks, scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, will be set to music performed by the Oakland East Bay Symphony. The Independence Day aerial display is expected to draw more than 70,000 attendees -- a crowd that could match Pleasanton's population.
To help alleviate fireworks-related traffic concerns around the fairgrounds, city officials plan to implement street and freeway exit closures on Saturday afternoon and ban parking on area neighborhood streets. Traffic control will be in effect after the show, directing drivers to freeways via specific, predetermined routes (see map in today's Weekly, page 5).
Familiar fair activities, such as carnival rides and concessions, will remain open later in the evening after the fireworks Saturday.
For many, attending the fair is an annual tradition of rituals and routines shared with friends and family.
Pleasanton's Amy Schwab and her friends look forward to the first sighting of the fair's concert schedule flashed on the electronic board at the corner of Valley and Bernal.
"Con Funk Shun is always girls' night out for us," Schwab said. "The concerts are filled with so much energy. It's outdoors, so I don't feel confined, and the smaller venue keeps it from feeling too crowded. Everyone's up and dancing -- the old-school music takes me back."
The concerts continue with that old-school feel Friday night when Morris Day and the Time take the stage at 8 p.m.
Saturday's musical offerings are in tune with the Fourth of July theme with an all-day Red, White and Blues concert series taking place throughout the fairgrounds. Sunday evening, Terri Nunn and Berlin will close out the Big O Concert Series with a medley of the band's hits from the '80s.
Getting spots to any of the concerts involves waiting in line, but there is always plenty of seating on the lawn in front of the jumbo-tron for easy concert viewing.
While you're waiting for the concert doors to open, consider placing a few bets at the oldest mile-long racetrack in the United States. You don't have to be an expert to enjoy watching the horses run -- but if you'd like to up the odds on picking a winner, the fair hosts an impressive lineup of racing celebrities sharing their wagering strategies at the Daily Handicapping Seminars.
With a few tips from Pleasanton's own world-famous thoroughbred trainer Jeff Bonde, you are sure to sound like an expert while betting in the world of exactas, quintellas and trifectas.
If your image of the fair is all about deep-fried food and whirling carnival rides, you will not be disappointed. But don't miss out on the fun beyond the midway.
There's plenty of atmosphere found at Agventure Park, where tractor pulls, pig racing and a petting zoo bring a welcome laid back, old-time county fair feel.
After testing your hidden cowboy or cowgirl talents on the mechanical bull, head over to the Junior Livestock exhibits and learn what it takes to raise a cow, sheep, pig or goat for auction. It's an involved, year-long process that includes ethics training, fair time weigh-ins and showmanship competitions.
This Sunday is auction day for those looking to support local 4-H clubs and Livermore High's Future Farmers of America program while filling their freezers with top-quality steaks and bacon.
Just a little south of Agventure Park is the Action Zone Arena, where you'll find small animal exhibits and the Alameda County Central Railroad Society's model train layouts.
Or maybe you're looking for a little more action in the Action Zone. Stick around until 8 o'clock each night this weekend and catch one of the fair's newest attractions, the Crush the Fourth Demolition Derby. Sunday night's spectacular Motor Home Derby should prove standing-room only -- 4,000 spectators are expected for the show.
After all that action, you will be ready to head over to the Relax Zone's wine garden, where live music plays until 10:30 p.m.
Looking to loosen up a little more? Let hypnotist Jim Kellogg Jr. help you out. Audience members are always the stars of the show -- if you're not up as a participant, there is a good chance one of your friends will be on stage during one of the two nightly presentations.
Of course, when you think "fair," you think rides. And there's no escaping the draw of the laughter and lights that every kid, or kid at heart, has been watching from Bernal Avenue since the fair opened 17 days ago.
Clearly someone familiar with children was consulted when the fair designated both a Kid's Park and the traditional carnival area, allowing families to introduce little ones to rides and games without the chaos and action found in the more crowded midway.
Huckle Cat and Curious George will be hosting Storyville at the Kid's Park this weekend, keeping the smaller kids entertained with games and story time (1 p.m. and 4 p.m. daily), which coordinates well with the Freestyle Motorcross Exhibitions that takes place at noon, 3 p.m and 6 p.m.
It's hard to imagine fitting all this fun into just one day, and if that is all the fair time you have in your schedule this weekend, keep in mind that Saturday's Fourth of July celebration culminates in the Fireworks Spectacular display.
The Fair Association recommends viewing the 9:30 p.m. show from the grandstands, but as any longtime Pleasanton resident can attest, the fireworks will light up the skies across town.
For more fair information, visit www.alamedacountyfair.com. Download the official Alameda County Fair app to find your favorite food, attractions and shopping opportunities.
Adults (13-61) ... $12
Seniors (62+) ... $8
Kids (6-12) ... $8
Children under 6 ... Free
Military Appreciation: Free admission with valid Military ID
* Kids Free Fridays (12 and under): Today until 5 p.m.