Like most counties, San Joaquin County typically toots its horn about its agriculture industry and what the county has to offer when it constructs its exhibit at the California State Fair.
But this year, the county went a step further.
The San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, which developed the county's exhibit, made a major political statement against the proposed peripheral canal, which would send additional Delta waters to the southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
The exhibit is dominated by a tall metal structure resembling Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as "The Terminator." The governor is targeted in the display for his role in promoting the peripheral canal water diversion plan.
"We generally don't comment on fair exhibits," Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said.
Even if one of them is about the governor himself?
"No," McLear said.
The county's display contains signs and fliers with statements like "San Joaquin County is in danger," and, "Stop feeding the monster."
While the display is dominated by "The Terminator" and the peripheral canal issue, it also includes the more traditional salute to the county's agricultural production. There are plenty of peaches, pumpkins, watermelon, almonds, bell peppers and Lodi wines for all to see.
"Typically, (counties) want to show off the attributes of the county," said Greg Kinder, who oversees the county exhibits at the State Fair. "In an ag county, they show off what they grow. They want to be exposed to hundreds of thousands of people."
The idea for the unorthodox exhibit came from Bruce Blodgett, the Farm Bureau's executive director, who said a lot of people aren't aware of the peripheral canal issue and this was a good way to educate a cross-section of people.
"It's long overdue," Blodgett said about the idea of using the county exhibit to send a message. "Bottom line:There are other options out there. The administration is presenting only one solution."
One option, he said, is adding water storage through new dams to collect more water from rivers throughout the state for urban and rural use.
The Farm Bureau didn't actually construct the exhibit. A professional crew led by Richard Bay designed and constructed it after Blodgett gave him his vision for the exhibit. Blodgett then approved the exhibit with a few tweaks, and he approved all the written material about the peripheral canal.
It cost about $6,000 to put up the display, Blodgett said. The Board of Supervisors contributed $2,500 of taxpayer money, and the Farm Bureau paid the rest, Blodgett said.
Reactions to county's State Fair exhibitSupervisor Ken Vogel: "These are really extraordinary times, and the Farm Bureau went out of the box to express our frustration and concern about the future of agriculture in the Delta with the peripheral canal."
Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills: "When I visited the State Fair with my family, I was impressed by San Joaquin County's exhibit, Since then, I have been encouraging my colleagues in the Capitol to visit the exhibit when they go to the fair.
"The county took advantage of a great opportunity to highlight a critical issue and created something that will catch visitors' attention, while educating them about why a canal is bad for San Joaquin and its residents."
Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres: "I've never been so proud to represent San Joaquin County. It was very creative. They made a statement. People up here (in the State Capitol) don't understand how much San Joaquin County is against the peripheral canal.
"The peripheral canal (which would be 1,000 feet wide) is going to take a lot of those wonderful crops away from the Delta."
Joe Valente, past president, San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation: "We're trying to get a message across where people across the state will get a look at this. The Delta is very important to our community. I don't know if it's something the Farm Bureau will do every year."
Counties promote themselves in different waysThirty-three of California's 58 counties have exhibits at the California State Fair this year. They do it to promote their counties, especially the low-profile counties - ones you generally drive through on the way to somewhere else.
Counties like Stanislaus, Tulare, Colusa and Tehama focus on their agriculture production. On the other hand, Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado, Placer and Inyo focus on their scenic beauty and places for people to visit.
San Diego County, which is known primarily for its world-class zoo, beaches and moderate weather, focused mostly on something it's not as known for - microbreweries.
Greg Kinder, who oversees the county exhibits, said that fair visitors are anxious as well to see their own county.
"Everyone wants to see what their county did - or didn't do," Kinder said.
If someone sees their county not represented, they go back to their county and ask why, Kinder said.
That happened to Santa Barbara County last year. Someone visiting the fair from Santa Barbara County noticed that it didn't have an exhibit. This year, it has one of the best, with the entrance to Mission Santa Barbara dominating the display, Kinder said.
The State Fair has had county displays since the 1870s, Kinder said. This year's participation is down due to the economy this year. One year, about 55 counties participated.