By Michele E. Buttelman
The sun is shining and events, festivals and fairs in California are back on the calendar. It’s time to plan for some “old fashioned fun in the California sun.” Some of these popular festivals, fair and events have moved locations or changed formats or length of event. Know before you go by visiting the event websites to learn of changes.
Los Angeles County Fair
1101 W. McKinley Ave.,
Pomona, CA 91768
11 a.m. – 11 p.m. through May 30
Thursday – Sunday and Memorial Day Monday
Cost: Adults $20, children $12.
The Los Angeles County Fair, with the theme “Back to Our Roots,” is back for in-person fun, food and frolic. Enjoy the carnival rides, the fried food and on-stage entertainment.
This year the fair goes cashless for admission and parking.
Ray Cammack Shows returns to the fair for its 36th year, bringing more than 60 spectacular carnival rides, 30 games and kiddie carnival areas.
The Flower & Garden Pavilion celebrates the Centennial with “Cheers to 100 Years.” The Pavilion will feature a look at the Fair’s history through flowers. The center waterfall will complement America’s Great Outdoors with a nod to the forest, wildlife and the old Golden Empire Gold Rush. Expect to see a floral Clock Tower and murals of the most popular flowers for each decade.
The Schools’ Ag and Nutrition Fair in Expo Hall will feature displays on agriculture and nutrition in California.
Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival
Skinner Lake 37701 Warren Road,
Winchester, CA 92596
Friday: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The popular Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is the biggest outdoor event of the season in Temecula, combining the region’s love of wine with its signature activity, hot air ballooning.
It is one of the area’s longest running events featuring dawn hot air balloon launches, weather permitting, Friday and Saturday evening balloon glows, wine tasting from over 20 premium wineries, wine pairing and live concerts on several stages.
The Food Court will offer Mexican, Greek, Chinese, Italian, funnel cakes, hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, BBQ, Tri-Tip, sausages, fries, Kettle corn, smoothies, shaved ice, coffee, soda, lemonade and ice cream.
Hot air balloon rides will be available and must be reserved in advance. For balloon ride reservations contact 1-800-965-2122.
Castroville Artichoke Festival
June 11-12, 2022
Monterey County Fair & Events Center,
2004 Fairground Road, Monterey, CA 93940
Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $15, $15-20 parking.
Both days of the festival will feature artichoke eating contests, live music, games, face painting, clowns, stilt walkers, fried artichokes, cooking demos, wine tasting, farmers market and more.
Artichoke Field Tours are available. The festival is partnering with artichoke growers in Castroville who host artichoke field tours throughout the day. Learn what it takes to grow and harvest fresh artichokes. Bus departs from the Monterey Fairgrounds Gate 4 and takes groups to a nearby artichoke farm in the Castroville growing region. All tours are approximately 1.5 hours long. Space is limited on each bus.
Among the most popular events at the festival are cooking demonstrations where chefs show how to cook delicious and colorful appetizers and meals using artichokes.
California Watermelon Festival
Hanson Dam Soccer Complex,
11480 Foothill Blvd.,
Lakeview Terrace, CA 91342
Saturday, Sunday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Cost: $9.60 to $25. Parking $10
Nothing celebrates the California sun like crisp, fresh, sweet watermelon. Enjoy free watermelon, delicious foods, carnival rides and attractions, games, contests, live entertainment, a Kids Zone and the newest attraction… watermelon skiing.
Watch as participants step into carved-out watermelon halves and “melon ski” across a greased canvas to showcase their skills as the crowd cheers them on. Seed-spitting contest at the “Spitway,” or going for the gold in the watermelon relay are also among the options.
Watermelon costume contest, Saturday at 2 p.m. There is no cost to enter. Prizes awarded.
Free watermelon is in plentiful supply for all attendees. Arts & crafts exhibitors and vendor booths, carving displays and cooking demonstrations, live entertainment and strolling performers, watermelon wear clothing and more.
Among the watermelon delicacies are watermelon fried shrimp tacos, watermelon kettle corn, watermelon funnel cake, watermelon wedge with dessert toppings, smoked watermelon, watermelon BBQ sauce on chicken or steak, watermelon ice cream, watermelon-rita, watermelon popsicle, watermelon salsa tacos, watermelon tamales, watermelon empanadas and deep-fried watermelon.
In addition to the food court, carnival rides and midway games, kids can enjoy pony rides, a children’s theater and a variety of engaging activities.
The 42nd Annual OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off
5000-5070 Niagara Ave.,
San Diego, CA 92107
10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Cost: Free to enter
The Annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival will offer attendees eclectic fun in the sun that’s great for all ages. Enjoy a tasty festival nosh, art, beachfront entertainment, shopping and more.
The Chili Competition begins with tastings at 11 a.m. and will feature more than two dozen tastings from amateur entrants competing for the titles of Hottest Chili, Judges’ Award and Grand Prize: People’s Choice Award. Attendees of all ages can take part in creating the annual Street Fair Community Mural.
There will be three stages of nonstop music throughout the day. Music genres will include acoustic, rock, blues, alternative, Americana and more.