El Dorado County Fair garners TV show interest

By: Don Chaddock Gold Country News Service
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PLACERVILLE — The El Dorado County Fair received a public relations boost this year thanks to Huell Howser’s TV show. Howser is known for traveling the state from coast to mountaintop, seeking oddities, landmarks and regular folks to showcase the Golden State. His latest show, “California’s Golden Fairs,” highlights various fairs around the state and on May 26, the El Dorado County Fair was featured. Howser spent a day filming at the fair last year. As the episode made its debut, 150 El Dorado County residents gathered in the Marshall building at the county fairgrounds to watch a sneak preview. “I have no idea how many (people) to expect,” said fair CEO Jody Gray just before the start of the show. People mingled, snacked on appetizers and sipped a glass of wine before the show’s big debut. Pamphlets touting the state’s fairs lined the tables. Emblazoned with the message, “I (heart) CA Fairs,” the brochure stated “California’s 78 fairs are a vital economic resource for the state and provide invaluable social benefits for the patrons and communities they serve.” Stephen Chambers, executive director of the Western Fairs Association, drove from Sacramento for the gathering. “If any of you know Huell Howser shows, they run forever,” he joked. As the lights went down, people took their seats and Howser’s trademark twang echoed through the building. “This (fair) is right here in the heart of the Gold Country,” he said. In the show, Gray explained the fair started as a rotating district agricultural fair, moving to different locations each year. “It’s always been an ag fair,” she said. “It’s been on this location for 80 years … and it’s always on Father’s Day weekend.” The crowd cheered during Gray’s interview and chuckled at Howser’s homespun puns and remarks as he marveled at the fair’s offerings. “This is one of those fairgrounds that actually has the county history museum on the grounds,” Howser said. “There’s a lot of history in this county.” The TV show host aimed the camera at a broken down wooden wheelbarrow housed in the museum. “This is an original Studebaker wheelbarrow,” he said. “It has a place of honor in the El Dorado County History Museum.” According to museum officials, the wheelbarrow is a confirmed original. John Studebaker got his start making the wheelbarrows for the miners heading to the gold fields. When he had enough money, he returned to the Midwest and invested in his brother’s wagon works company, which eventually became the Studebaker automobile company. Each year at the fair, county residents honor their Studebaker connection by hosting wheelbarrow races. Chambers said he was excited about the Howser TV shows focusing on fairs. “We had a good turnout tonight,” he said of the crowd. The El Dorado County Fair runs June 16-19 at the fairgrounds at 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville. For a complete schedule and admission information, visit Reach Telegraph Managing Editor Don Chaddock at