The Los Angeles County Fair kicks off this weekend celebrating 92 years of creativity and innovation with brand new attractions, creative food choices and live tunes to soothe your soul.
What began as a beet and barley farm in 1922 has now become one of the largest county fairs in the country. With just over 1.5 million guests annually, the 487-acre Los Angeles County Fair (LACF) begins its month long fiesta on Friday, August 29 and runs through September 28.
With it’s first ever appearance in California, Luminasia lights up the night at the LACF with its larger-than-life Chinese lantern display that takes the ancient art form of lantern making to a whole new level. Long gone are the bamboo sticks and flimsy paper shapes; this attraction is an incredible combination of steel and satin.
Visitors enter the attraction under a canopy of illuminated red umbrellas strung above the pathway and can stroll through four colorful vignettes such as “Myths and Legends,” inspired by Chinese mythology, the Chinese Zodiac and featuring an enormous fire-breathing dragon. “Wonders of the World” features replicas of iconic landmarks such as the Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Journey into nature at the “Garden Earth” display where a dozen frogs hop down hills and perch on lily pads while seahorses, fish and dolphins leap among the waves. The final vignette, “I Love LA,” pays tribute to the beauty of Los Angeles with lantern palm trees and familiar icons like the Hollywood sign and Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
The nearly 300 pieces on display were created by a team of 49 Chinese artisans who traveled more than 7,000 miles from Zigong in Sichuan Province and spent many weeks on site in Pomona, creating the outdoor walk-through attraction at the Fairplex. The lanterns are handcrafted from heavy-duty steel, cool white LED lights and more than 800 yards of fabric, some of which has been airbrushed to create the perfect effect. Many of these artists have been creating lantern artwork for over nine generations and the immense skill of the workmanship coupled with the lighting transforms the hillside into an evening attraction that is both breathtaking and truly whimsical.
“The work that went into putting Luminasia together is pretty amazing,” says LACF hostess Kara Wang. “I spoke with Art Director Yang Songlin during production and I was amazed by the attention to detail that went into putting these pieces together. The final result is just dazzling.”
Luminasia viewing hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to close. Admission is an additional $5 for children ages 6-17 and $9 for adults 18 and up.
Food & Libations
For some fairgoers, the Los Angeles County Fair is all about the food and it rarely disappoints. While deep-fried desserts, hickory-smoked turkey legs and charbroiled corn on the cob remain fair favorites, visitors would be doing themselves a disservice not to explore the many options available at the LACF this year.
The Farmhouse Grill offers five varieties of wood-grilled flatbread with fresh toppings such as strawberries and chocolate mint harvested from LACF’s organic farm. The Farm at Fairplex is a year-round venture with over 4.5 acres and hundreds of specialty crops.
“We’ve got 182 crops right now,” says Don Delaney, Farm Manager, “The summer crops are coming to and end and the winter crops, like cabbage, are coming along nicely. We grow and harvest it all on site, it’s just delicious.”
If you’re looking for something a whole lot sweeter, you might want to try Brander Enterprises’ Maple Bacon and Cherry Pop Rock Texas donuts or Deep-Fried Pecan Pie from Ray Cammack Show. Or maybe you want something in-between sweet and savory. If that’s the case, head on over to Juicy’s for a Funnel Cake Dog or grab one of Chicken Charlie’s Krispy Kreme Triple Decker Cheeseburger.
“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever eaten,” said John Kettle as he took his first bite of the Krispy Kreme burger. “Believe it or not, it’s really good but there’s no way I can eat this whole thing, that would just be insane!”
Also new for Chicken Charlie’s this year is the bacon-wrapped zucchini on a stick, served with a side of ranch dressing for dipping.
“It’s all the flavors you want on a stick and it’s relatively healthy,” says owner and creator Charlie Boghosian.
Lori’s Concessions is offering a new item this year not to be missed, the Relleno Pretzel Burger. An Angus beef patty topped with a roasted chili and served on a pretzel bun, simply divine. The Ramen burger by Kiezo Shimamoto is also making its first appearance at the fair. It’s a beef patty between two grilled ramen buns, inventive and tasty too.
After indulging your pallet, you might want to make a stop at one of the many venues throughout the fair offering craft beers and award winning wines. For as little as $15, visitors can also sample and learn about wine, craft beer, olive oil and spirits during a 60-minute class as part of the education program offered at the fair. Class dates and times are available at lacountyfair.com
Star-studded fair concerts feature classic acts, new favorites
The shows at Pomona Fairplex’s annual End of Summer Concert Series pack an entertainment wallop, with the grandstand vibrating to the sounds of everything from rock to pop and from Latin music to R&B. Highlights include gigs by the powerhouse rock duo Heart on September 26, R&B legends Earth, Wind & Fire on September 28 and a rap extravaganza comprised of LL Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip and special guest Salt-N-Pepa on September 27.
Start lining up
The series kicks off this evening, Friday, August 29, with a performance by actress and platinum-selling artist Zendaya, who is known for her hit song “Replay.” Zendaya is promoting her self-titled debut album, and will be joined by special guest Trevor Jackson.
Tomorrow, the sound of music will be replaced by the revving of engines revving during the Flip Fest Monster Truck & Motocross Stunt Spectacular. Along with two monster trucks performing simultaneous back flips, the event is billed as being “capped by some spectacular pyro.”
Fairplex will welcome a bit of soul to the stage on Sunday, August 31 with an appearance by R&B legend Charlie Wilson. The former lead vocalist for The Gap Band, Mr. Wilson has enjoyed a sterling solo career marked by songs like the 2012 chart-topper “My Love is All I Have.
The concert series will continue on September 1 with an all-country music bill, featuring the Grammy-nominated David Nail and Easton Corbin, who was named Billboard’s Top New Country Artist in 2010. Special guest Jamie Lynn Spears (“How Could I Want More?”) will also take the stage.
Mr. Nail is known for hits like “Whatever She’s Got” and the heart-wrenching “Let it Rain.” Mr. Corbin’s catalogue includes number-one singles such as “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It.”
More bright musical lights
Pop and power pop will be the order of the day when the Neon Trees perform with English singer-songwriter and rapper Cher Lloyd on September 4. The Neon Trees, who burst onto the scene with the hit 2010 song “Animal,” are touring in support of their latest release, Pop Psychology. Ms. Lloyd, who appeared on the seventh season of the X factor, is known for radio sensations like “Swagger Jagger” and “With Ur Love.”
On September 5, things will get old school when the funk band War lights up the night. Grandstand audiences can expect to hear timeless classics like “Low Rider,” “Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “The World is a Ghetto.”
Vocals will be at the forefront on September 6 with headliners Pentatonix and special guest The Filharmonic. Pentatonix, masters of the a capella cover, won season 3 of NBC’s The Sing-off. Members of The Filharmonic are likewise helping take instrument-free music to new heights.
The fair series continues throughout the month, with norteño music by Roberto Tapia and Irene Davi (September 7); Christian rock by Third Day and MercyMe (September 10); an R&B spectacular starring Boyz II Men with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Andy Allo (September 11); classic rock with Styx (September 12); pop rock from Disney alums R5 with special guest Ryland Lynch (September 13); country music by former Sugarland lead singer Jennifer Nettles and singer-songwriter Brandy Clark (September 14), and classic rock by Cheap Trick and Kansas (September 17).
Also on tap for the End of Summer Concert Series are soul jazz musician George Benson and funk queen Chaka Khan (September 18); R&B virtuosos The Manhattans (“Shining Star”) featuring Gerald Alston & Blue Lovett with special guests The Brothers Johnson (September 19); Martina McBride’s The Everlasting Tour with special guest Dustin Lynch (September 20); norteño music by Ramon Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte (September 21); R&B by Jason Derulo (“Talk Dirty”) with special guest rapper Luke Christopher (September 24); and Monster Truck Mayhem featuring Robosaurus, “the electrifying robot who will burn a car to the ground with his fire-breathing breath” (September 23).
All shows begin at 7:30 pm. You can purchase your tickets online at www.lacountyfair.com or at the Fairplex Box Office.
Admission & Hours
When: Friday, August 29 through September 29. Closed Monday and Tuesday except for Labor Day.
Opening weekend hours: 3 p.m. to midnight today; 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday.
Where: Pomona Fairplex, 1101 McKinley Avenue., Pomona.
Tickets: $12 weekdays; $19 weekends. $8 for children 8-12. $10 for seniors 60 and older. Season passes $29.99. Luminasia requires an additional $9 fee; $5 for children 6-17.
Information: 909-623-3111, www.lacountyfair.com