Let the games begin

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By GENEVIEVE

BOOKWALTER

It was a slice of Americana last night as this year's Mother Lode Fair kicked off.

Looking at the flying swings or ferris wheel on a hot July night, one might be anywhere in the United States.

Some teenage girls walked hand-in-hand with their boyfriends, while others prepared goats or cattle to show this weekend.

Thirty-something moms chased kids around the lawn and mouthed the words to Starship's "We Built This City," as the band jammed on the Sonora Stage.

On the Central California Bank's Community Stage, Becky Pryor was crowned Miss Tuolumne County 2003.

On another stage, local amateur singers competed in "American Idol" style to be this year's Mother Lode Fair Idol.

Ten finalists were narrowed down to seven, but the audience's votes won't be announced until tonight. The contest ends Sunday after four nights of performances.

The Budweiser Clydesdales hung out under a red awning that smelled sweetly of hay, waiting for the next day's performance in the Grandstand.

But last night's fair also was the only place in Tuolumne County where one could nibble cotton candy while getting an eyebrow pierced, and then proceed inside to purchase a new hot tub registering to vote on the way.

Already, Glen Oslin said, he has sold two hot tubs at this year's fair.

"This is a good start for a Thursday," he said quickly, before ducking away to help another customer. He came into this weekend's fair expecting to sell 20 new bath fixtures, but if last night is any indication, Oslin said he might top 25.

People wanting to register to vote had their choice of Republican and Democrat booths, and the Republican stall featured a life-sized cardboard figure of President George W. Bush. If asked nicely, people manning the booth would let one stand next to the cut-out to compare their height with the United States' 43rd president.

11506987
The Union Democrat
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