Calaveras preps for annual fair, jump

Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

The Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee is just over two months away.

Preparations are well under way for the May 16 through 19 event in Angels Camp, and the general public got a sneak peek Wednesday night at the fairgrounds' Frogeteria building.

A new carnival operator is coming to town this spring, California Carnival, based in Rancho Cordova. The feature attraction will be a "Typhoon" pendulum ride that achieves 120-degree angles and heights of more than 70 feet.

"It's a real step up from anything we've had around here, at least the last 15 years I've been on the board," said Bob Trinchero, president of the 39th District Agricultural Association.

Free Style Moto X, a motocross event presented by El Dorado County-based WGAS Motorsports, will debut in the arena Friday night, followed by Nashville musical act the Farm headlining on the main stage Saturday evening.

The traditional Saddle Queen competition in the arena and Miss Calaveras scholarship pageant on the main stage will take place on Thursday's opening night, and the fair closes Sunday with the world championship frog jump and a demolition derby.

Laura Kitchell, of Angels Camp, is eager to defend her title as frog jump champion after becoming the first Calaveras County woman to take top honors last year and ending a five-year string of victories by the Sacramento-area Bozos team.

"Without my team, I never would have won," Kitchell said. "We're all out to have fun, but we're all out to win, too."

There's even intrasquad rivalry to be worried about.

"My husband's coming after me," Kitchell laughed.

Fair CEO Laurie Giannini said music on the lawn stage will feature extended hours of entertainment by local acts, including rock and reggae artists.

The exhibit venue will be a temporary air-conditioned tent building to accommodate Barrel of Monkeez, a family amusement center which now occupies the Tom Sawyer Hall and will remain open during the fair.

The fairgrounds have benefited from a number of volunteer projects, many spearheaded by the nonprofit Friends of the Fair organization. There are new foundations beneath the Frogtown Brewery and Ranch House, a new roof on the floriculture building, metal to replace rotten wood at the goat barns and a new livestock office.

Junior Livestock Committee Chairman Ryan Sullivan said a streamlined buyer registration process will make things run smoother in the auctions.

Sullivan said the committee is still raising funds and seeking labor and materials for a much-needed upgrade to the hog barn.

It has taken a village, or in this case, a county to revive the fair in recent years as state funding dwindled to zero.

"The community has truly come back to the fair, and that is what has made it work," Trinchero said.

There's always another opportunity to help, according to board member Darrin Mills.

"Just because we don't ask for it or beg for it or you don't see it, doesn't mean we couldn't use it," Mills reminded Wednesday's crowd.

The Union Democrat
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