The summer months are kind to fans of carnival rides, cattle and food on a stick.
Visitors to the San Joaquin Fair, which opened Wednesday, can find all of those draws and as well as these 10, "can't miss" attractions.
1. Best food-on-a-stick: Fairs are overrun with food-on-a-stick choices, but one of the best is the chocolate-covered cheesecake-on-a-stick. Afterward, don't regret the 350 calories, 19 grams of fat and 36 grams of carbs you just consumed - it was so worth it.
2. Best ride: The Tornado feels like Disneyland's teacups, with a wheel that speeds up the spinning. But this ride also loops and spins in the air, so try to avoid it after eating your cheesecake-on-a-stick.
3. Best oversized animal: At more than 6 feet tall and 3,400 pounds heavy, White Mountain, the giant steer is the oversized animal guaranteed to draw the most stares. But Harley the giant hog, at 4 feet tall and 1,000 pounds, is also worth checking out. Find them near the carnival rides.
4. Best use of an ambitious donkey: Sure, the Budweiser clydesdales are at this year's fair, but they're nearly upstaged by the donkey of 2004 Super Bowl commercial fame, who dreamed of being a Budweiser Clydesdale. Find him and the 12 Clydesdales just outside the horse racing.
5. Best place for bets: Always one of the fair's main attractions, horse racing happens 10 times a day, or about every half hour. Visitors can place a bet or just watch the horses run.
6. Best place to visit before the horse racing: Get a glimpse of your future with a $10 palm reading or $20 tarot card reading by Sister Grant, a psychic from Manteca.
7. Best creative cattle: Of course the fair offers its share of live cattle, but the Create A Cow competition features a cow made entirely out of milk cartons and cookies. Find it at the California Living Youth and Adult exhibit.
8. Best cakes you won't want to eat: Learn how to create cakes too pretty to eat, by turning frosting and sugar into clowns, sunflowers and daisies. Take a lesson from the Confectioners Cake Club of Stockton at the California Living Youth and Adult Exhibit.
9. Best way to remember a pet: Among the awards for best scrapbook pages is a first place winner by 8-year-old Madison Nelson of Lodi. She made the page to remember her dog, a St. Bernard named Bernard, after her mom gave him away. As Madison explains on the page: "We used to have him but he was too dumb to eat." Find it in the California Living Youth and Adult exhibit.
10. Best way to win a stuffed animal: Winning at Bucket Ball looks easy - just throw a small ball into a horizontal bucket and the toy is yours. But chucking the ball at the bucket will send it bouncing back out. The trick is to hold your arm out straight, and carefully throw the ball underhand.
San Joaquin Fair at a glanceWhat: The San Joaquin Fair, featuring concerts, a carnival, horse racing, livestock, agriculture, food and exhibits.
When: Open until June 25. Closed Monday. Gates open at noon every day except June 20 and 21, when the fair opens at 4 p.m. The fair closes each night at 11 p.m. or midnight, depending on crowds.
Where: San Joaquin Fairgrounds, at 1658 S. Airport Way in Stockton.
Cost: Buy discounted tickets at http://www.sanjoaquinfair.com at $6 for adults older than 13; tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $3. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate for $8 for adults and $5 for children.
For more information visit: http://www.sanjoaquinfair.com, or call 466-5041.
- Source: http://www.sanjoaquinfair.com.
First published: Thursday, June 15, 2006