County Fair Fixin’s

From the best butters to the best wines


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“At Healdsburg, the first county fair, we received a silver butter knife for the best butter,” recalled Mrs. Eliza Gregson, who had arrived in California’s Sonoma County in 1848.

County fairs began as a way for local farmers and ranchers to show off their prized animals, agriculture and the products made from both.

The best were awarded prizes and blue ribbons in categories such as shooting, dry goods, artwork, needlework and furniture. New technology items, like sewing machines, washing machines and a variety of farm equipment, often made their debut at these fairs.

Starting off as exhibitions of fine stock, fruits and grains, county fairs often expanded, like in the case of Los Angeles, which added orange shows, flower festivals and finally a fiesta. “We lined the streets with palms and decked the buildings with the orange, red and green banners, and played and paraded for a week in April, the peak of spring. We saw our red-shirted firemen with their flower-garlanded, shining engines, drawn by those...

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