Both Tuolumne and Calaveras counties state fair exhibits brought home the gold this year, winning ribbons for all-around design.
Tuolumne County’s exhibit beat out 29 other counties to win an additional ribbon for Best Visitor Experience. The hands-on display at the California State Fair in Sacramento incorporates a waterfall, information on local history, and items unique to the area.
“It’s almost like a movie set because you have buildings, animation, an entrance and an exit, and all kinds of walk-in experiences,” said Nanci Sikes, executive director of the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau.
“Even the pictures will not do it justice,” she added.
For all-around design, the fair’s Board of Directors judged county exhibits on a point system and assessed them on their portrayal of this year’s theme — “Fun That Moves You.”
Sikes said presenters were encouraged to dress in costume. Accordingly, Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau marketing manager Sandy Gordon dressed as a fortune teller and “predicted” which Tuolumne County locations the judges might visit.
The elaborate affair has a funhouse theme, complete with mirrors and doors that open on information about the county. It is a joint venture between Tuolumne County, the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau and Black Oak Casino.
“It’s become more and more sophisticated and complicated,” Sikes said. “Every year you have to do more than the year before.”
Calaveras County’s theme is “Whatever Floats Your Boat.” Visitors can jump aboard a boat, try fishing for faux fish, and see a display on the real lakes of Calaveras County.
The exhibit also features Calaveras Big Trees State Park, agricultural products and wines.
Tuolumne and Calaveras counties both rely on volunteers to staff their state fair exhibits.
Sikes said Tuolumne County volunteers handed out thousands of brochures and visitor guides in 2011. She expects this year’s crowd to snap them up even faster.
The 2012 state fair began Thursday and will run through July 29.
For more information, visit www.bigfun.org.