What's the best part of the Humboldt County Fair? Tough call, right? Is it that first, powdery sugar bite of deep-fried funnel cake? The thrill of wagering on the ponies? If you're young and hardy maybe it's getting strapped inside a mechanical stomach-scrambler (aka a carnival ride) or winning a blue ribbon for your droop-eared English lop. (That's a rabbit breed, btw.) A personal favorite: those goofy, form-fitting bodysuits worn by freshly sheared sheep. Have you seen these things? They come in vibrant colors (pink cammo, tie dye), and they make the sheep look like Prince during his assless pants phase. Best of all? They're called "lambie jammies."
This year's organizers had to do some fiscal scrambling after the state stopped subsidizing county fairs, but thanks in part to a new nonprofit, Friends of the Humboldt County Fair, the annual tradition is coming back for a "sweet" 116th time, Aug. 15 through Aug. 26. If you've picked up the paper on Wednesday, then it's opening day! Find the red barn before 4 p.m. to enter a drawing for a free cooked beef roast. You also have three chances to catch Tina Marie, Master Hypnotist. Don't let her take your beef! (Both Tina and the meat return daily.)
Other things you should know: There's no horse racing on either Thursday (the 16th or the 23rd), but admission is totally free those days. It's also free on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 20 and 21. Otherwise it's $8, $6 for seniors, $4 for kids age 6-12 and free for the littlest ones. Parking fees went up a buck this year, so it's $3. If you wanna bet on the horses (or the mules), you've got eight days to choose from. Racing admission is free on both Wednesdays (15th, 22nd) and both Fridays (17th, 24th). Saturday, Aug. 25, is Ladies Hat Day at the races: Women in formal headwear get in gratis.
Want entertainment? How 'bout a huge mariachi band? "Hispanic Day," Aug. 26, will feature Mariachi Real de Mexico from 1-4 p.m., followed by some Lucha Libre (the Mexican wrestling with crazy masks). Other acts include cowgirl rope tricks, a flying dog show and a dude wrestling an alligator. Younguns will be exhibiting their livestock Aug. 15-19, and the grown-ups get their turn Aug. 22-26. For loads more info, including a full list of vendors and exhibits, visit www.humboldtcountyfair.org.