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ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER VENTURA SEASIDE SHINDIG OPENS WEDNESDAY.

Byline: Eric Leach Staff Writer

VENTURA - The 130th Ventura County Fair kicks off Wednesday at the Seaside Park Fairgrounds where prize farm animals, tasty homemade jams, carnival rides and live entertainment are expected to draw more than 300,000 visitors.

Live acts over the 12-day fair include Hoobastank, Lonestar, Julie Roberts with Terri Clark, Mel Tillis, Styx and News Boys.

Featured events include motorsport races on Wednesday and Thursday, a Junior Livestock Auction on Wednesday, Aug. 10, and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14.

One of the most popular attractions is Uncle Leo's Barn, which features a variety of farm animals, including a sow and piglets. Visitors can enter a ``Name the Piggy'' contest, watch chicks hatch and join a number of children's activities.

The theme this year is ``Country Fair with Ocean Air,'' with organizers pointing out that their summer event offers cool sea breezes unlike the sweltering, inland fair venues.

``You'd be surprised what some people exhibit,'' said Bob Stultz, who is organizing the displays of hobbies and models this year.

Stultz, who has worked at the Ventura County Fair about 10 years, said one of the entries is a 100-inch wooden train made by a Camarillo man who died earlier this year.

``He made this for the fair. When his wife brought it in, she was in tears,'' Stultz said.

``No matter what it is, it's going to fit somewhere at the fair,'' he said. ``Last year, I had a large collection of mouse traps. You would never realize how many different types of mouse traps there are.''

One of the Best of Show winners last year was a 4-foot-long wooden train built by 84-year-old Logan Brenner of Moorpark.

``I've been doing woodworking all my life and was kind of nuts about trains,'' Brenner said from his Moorpark home, where he has his winning train on display in the living room.

Brenner spent nine months using 20 different kinds of wood to make the model of an 1854 wood-burning steam engine like one that would have crossed the nation in the Old West.

``My wife and I went to look for it, and there it was in a glass cage, with a ribbon that said Best of Show. ... I was really pumped up. I've made a lot of things before but never took them to a show. My friends and relatives thought it was great.''

Renee Pokorny of Ventura was caught by surprise when she won a Best of Show ribbon last year for her lemon garlic dill olives, one of five preserved food jars she entered.

``(When) I went there, I saw only four. I didn't even think to look in the Best of Show area. When I finally found out I was a Best of Show winner, the fair was over.''

Ellen Ansok, owner of Cakes By You in Simi Valley, won the Best of Show award last year for professionally decorated cakes but was also confused at first.

``They told me they'd thrown it away. My face turned pure white. I didn't expect them to toss it on the first day. But finally, I was told it was in the Best of Show area.''

She won with a chocolate wedding cake with fondant roses, and this year she is making a Mad Hatter birthday tiered cake.

Craig Underwood, a vice president of the fair's board of directors and owner of Underwood Family Farms, said one of his greatest pleasures is seeing the work and creativity people put into their exhibits.

``Every year there are good exhibits, and they are always changing,'' he said. ``There are opportunities for people to exhibit, everything from growing fruits or vegetables to making jams and jellies to photography. It's partly about commerce and partly showing off just what you've been doing.

``This fair is great. It's close to the ocean so it's fairly cool. We've always brought our kids, and we'd be here for three or four hours. They were always crying when they had to leave. I think it's a great event.''

The Ventura County Fair has attracted crowds of more than 300,000 for the past two years. But fair officials warn that their parking lot accommodates less than 2,000 cars, so alternate parking sites are available with shuttle service, and Amtrak and Metrolink trains stop at a station next to the fairgrounds.

There are special admission rates on some days, including Wednesdays, Aug. 3 and 10, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. when entry to the fair is only $1, on what are called Pepsi Dollar Days.

Youth Day will be Friday, Aug. 5, when all visitors 12 years of age and younger will be admitted free all day.

Tuesday, Aug. 9, will be SCAN Health Plan Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Day, with the gates opening at 10 a.m. All senior citizens age 62 and older and all handicapped persons will be admitted free for this special day.

Thursday, Aug. 11, is Military Appreciation Day, and military personnel holding current military identification will be admitted free. Members of the armed services are encouraged to wear their uniforms.

On Monday, Aug. 8, Tuesday, Aug. 9, and Thursday, Aug. 11, wristbands will be sold until 5 p.m. for $18 for unlimited carnival rides from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602

eric.leach(at)dailynews.com

HOW TO GET TO THE VENTURA COUNTY FAIR

SHUTTLE AND PARKING INFORMATION: On-site parking at the Ventura County Fair accommodates fewer than 2,000 vehicles and the charge is $5 per vehicle. Free shuttle service is provided daily during the fair from 10:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. from the six off-site parking locations, including San Buenaventura State Beach, where there is a parking fee of $5 per vehicle.

Free parking and free shuttles to the fair run continuously from the Ventura County Government Center off Telephone Road west of Victoria Avenue in Ventura; Ventura High School Larrabee Stadium lots off Poli Street; the corner of Schooner Drive and Harbor Boulevard, across from the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Ventura Harbor; from the Pacific View Mall in Ventura; and from the Performing Arts Center on Hobson Way in Oxnard.

AMTRAK TRAIN SERVICE: Amtrak's Pacific Surfliners stop at the Ventura train station daily seven days a week. The Ventura Station is just across the street from the main fair parking lot and the pedestrian entrances to the fair on Harbor Boulevard. Pacific Surfliners serve communities in the coastal portions of San Diego, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, the central portions of Orange and Los Angeles counties, and the San Fernando Valley. For exact schedules and fares, call (800) USA- RAIL or www.amtrak.com.

METROLINK TRAIN SERVICE: The Ventura County Transportation Commission has chartered Metrolink trains for special service between Chatsworth and Ventura on Saturdays, Aug. 6 and 13, and Sundays, Aug. 7 and 14. Metrolink fair-train tickets can be purchased in advance, Monday through Friday, at Simi Valley, Moorpark and Camarillo city halls, at the Whistle Stop Depot Cafe in the Chatsworth station, or by calling (800) 438-1112. Tickets can be purchased from special sellers at the train stations on the day of travel.

Metrolink monthly pass holder tickets will also be accepted. Regular Metrolink one-way, four-trip, round-trip, and 10-trip tickets are not valid on the fair trains. Children ages 5 and younger ride free on the Metrolink train to the fairgrounds.

Fares range from $6 round trip from Camarillo and Oxnard to $8 from Simi Valley and Moorpark to $10 from Chatsworth.

For more information about the fair and and schedules, go to venturacountyfair.org, www.seasidepark.org or by calling the Fairgrounds offices at (805) 648-3376.

IF YOU GO

The Ventura County Fair opens at 11 a.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. weekends Aug. 3-14, and will open at 10 a.m. Aug. 9. The exhibits close at 10 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and children 13 and older, $4 for seniors 62 and older and children from 6 to 12. Children 5 and under are free. The fair is at Seaside Park, at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Figueroa Street at the beach in Ventura. Limited parking is available at the fair for $5. See box for additional information about alternate parking sites, shuttle and train service. More information at www.venturacountyfair.org, at www.seasidepark.org or Fairground offices at (805) 648-3376.

CAPTION(S):

3 photos, 2 boxes, 2 maps

Photo:

(1 -- color in Simi edition only) Thomas Garcia steps on a wrench to tighten a bolt while setting up the Xtreme ride Friday at the Ventura County Fair.

(2 -- color -- ran in Simi edition only) Workers wash down a tarp while setting up a children's ride Friday at the Ventura County Fair. The event runs Aug. 3-14 at Seaside Park.

(3 -- ran in Simi and Valley editions only) Ventura Downtown Lions Club members, from left, Chris Gelalich, Jeff Roundy and Margaret Dunlevy set up lights in the bingo tent at the Seaside Park Fairgrounds.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer

Box:

(1 -- Also ran in Valley edition) HOW TO GET TO THE VENTURA COUNTY FAIR (see text)

(2 -- Also ran in Valley edition) IF YOU GO (see text)

Map:

(1 -- 2 -- Also ran in Valley edition) VENTURA COUNTY FAIR
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 31, 2005
Words:1569
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