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California State Fair opens Friday in big return

After two years off, annual ag celebration spotlights food and fun

The State Fair Farm showcases California's top crops. (Photo courtesy California State Fair)
It’s back! After a two-year absence due to Covid restrictions, the California State Fair returns Friday for its annual agricultural celebration of the Golden State.

From July 15 through 31, the fair will fill Cal Expo with such traditional favorites as nightly concerts, livestock exhibitions and horse racing.

An extra emphasis will be placed on food as the fair continues to rebrand itself as “California State Fair and Food Festival.” (The festival aspect was added in 2019.) More than 30 food vendors will participate in the fest, which includes a competition for best fair food. (Winner of 2019 Best in Show: Bacon Pecan Cinnamon Rolls by Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls.) In addition, cooking challenges and demonstrations will be held daily.

Also back this summer is the State Fair Farm, a growing display of California’s top crops.

“Here, guests are able to get a Save Mart Passport and learn about more than 70 crops grown in California, learn all about pollinators and their importance in California agriculture, as well as pet a live sturgeon in the aquaculture display,” say the fair organizers. “Receive water-saving tips during California’s drought by visiting the water-efficient gardens sponsored by the Department of Water Resources and get gardening tips from our Master Gardeners booth.”

Yes, the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Sacramento County will be back, answering patrons’ gardening questions.

In addition, the fair is offering a downloadable “Ag Awareness Activity Book” and a virtual version of the State Fair Farm’s Insect Pavilion, spotlighting pollinators. Find both here:
https://bit.ly/3AJDogd .

New this year is a “clear bag” rule. Only clear plastic bags, limited to 12 by 12 inches, will be allowed. Except for mini clutches (under 5 by 8 inches), no purses, totes or non-clear bags will be admitted.

Cal Expo is located at 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento. Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. General admission tickets are $14, $12 in advance. Senior admission (age 62 and up) is $12, $10 in advance. Youth admission (ages 5-12) is $10, $8 in advance. Children under age 5 admitted free. Parking: $15.

Details and advance admission tickets: https://calexpostatefair.com .

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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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