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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 Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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