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In all its ag glory, California State Fair opens Friday

Emphasis will be on food with return of festival; visit master gardeners at The Farm

The Farm features dozens of crops grown in California as well as the Insect Pavilion and the UCCE Sacramento County master gardeners' booth.

The Farm features dozens of crops grown in California as well as the Insect Pavilion and the UCCE Sacramento County master gardeners' booth. Photo courtesy California State Fair

What’s happening down on The Farm? Find out when the California State Fair and Food Festival returns Friday for its annual agricultural celebration of the Golden State.

From July 14 through 30, the fair will fill Cal Expo with such traditional favorites as nightly concerts and livestock exhibitions. With an emphasis on food, dozens of creative food vendors will participate in the fest, which includes a competition for Best Fair Food. (The 2022 Best of Fair winner: Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls’ Caramel Crunch Cinnamon Roll.) In addition, cooking challenges and demonstrations will be held daily.

Also back this summer is the 3-1/2-acre California State Fair Farm, a growing display of California’s top crops. More than 70 California-grown crops are featured along with water-wise tips and gardening advice.

Once again, the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Sacramento County will be stationed at a booth in the middle of The Farm to answer patrons’ questions.

Our expected heat this weekend has already taken a toll on the State Fair’s schedule. The State Fair’s thoroughbred horse racing meet, a fair staple for generations, was supposed to open Friday afternoon. But with an excessive heat watch in effect through Monday night, racing for Friday, Saturday and Sunday has been canceled. Instead, racing will start on July 21.

Friday’s high temperature is expected to be 106 degrees, says the National Weather Service. Saturday’s forecast high is 110 degrees; Sunday, 108.

Cal Expo is located at 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento. Fair hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. Online advance admission tickets are $16. Senior admission (age 62 and up) is $12. Youth admission (ages 5-12) is $10. Children age 4 and younger admitted free. Parking: $15.

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

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* 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 is really hungry. Feed 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.

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

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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