When the 141st annual Dixon May Fair opens May 5-8, 2016 at 655 S 1st St.,Dixon, the grounds will be buzzing, in keeping with the theme, "Buzzing with Excitement."
The fair is putting the "buzz" in bees and the bees in "buzz."
“As an agricultural-based fair in Solano County, we can never underestimate the role of bees, not only for necessary pollination of our crops, but also with honey as a food source, and beeswax as a byproduct," said chief administrative officer Patricia Conklin. At the same time, the theme incorporates fun.
Bee scientists at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, will provide expertise and displays, including a bee observation hive and educational information.
Talented graphic artist Steve Dana of Dixon drew the bee-themed fair logo. The colorful logo make you think of animal identity theft. It features horses, cows, pigs, chicken, rabbits, and dogs in the familiar bee attire.
"Creating art for the Dixon May Fair is one of his favorite projects," said Dana, a graphic designer and illustrator at UC Davis for more than 25 years and the owner of a freelance graphic design and illustration business that he launched in 1990. He specializes in publication and logo design as well as cartoon and medical illustrations. Dana has illustrated three children's books with author and fellow Dixon High School graduate, Karen Emigh.
This is the seventh year Dana has created the Dixon May Fair logo. "I've loved the themes each year, " he said, "but this is my favorite so far."
Dana, a lifelong resident of Dixon, where he lives with his wife, Jodi and son and daughter, Eric and Keley, received his bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo in 1987. Growing up on a farm just east of Dixon, Dana said he "rode motorcycles and sketched cartoons whenever possible, always wishing that I could be as good as my older brother, Jim."
Art runs in the family. Their parents both "enjoyed various forms of art from acrylic painting to metal sculpture," Dana said. A nephew, Sutton Betti, is a professional sculptor in Colorado.
Meanwhile, it's all about the bees in this Dixon community where agriculture reigns supreme. If agriculture is "king," then "queen" refers to the honey bees.
Insects populate the earth and they're also populating the 140th annual Dixon May Fair (May7-10).
Sharon Payne, superintendent of the Youth Building in Denverton Hall, noticed quite a few insects in the building--but in photographs. The youths' images included praying mantids, lady beetles and a Gulf Fritillary butterfly. Many of the images are from Solano County 4-H'ers.
Payne, a past president of the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council and active in the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club of Vallejo and Benicia, coordinates the exhibits in the Dixon May Fair's Youth Building with fellow 4-H colleagues Gloria Gonzales and Julianna Payne.
Julianna served as a Solano County 4-H Ambassador for the 2012-2013 program year. Both Sharon and Julianna, mother and daughter, are master trainers in the 4-H THRIVE program, a leadership development project.
And over at Madden Hall, the almond and walnut industries have come to life, in keeping with the fair theme, "Nuttin' But Fun." Dixon May Fair chief executive officer Patricia "Pat" Conklin came up with the idea of wall-sized photos of almond and walnut orchards and bee pollination. (Wall photos donated by yours truly.)
It's good to see the focus on agricultural industries, the focus on 4-H, and the focus on entomology at California's oldest district fair. The grounds are located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
And, by the way, of Solano County's 12 4-H clubs, Dixon claims five of them: Maine Prairie, Dixon Ridge, Roving Clovers, Tremont and Wolfskill.
A great agricultural community!
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is showcasing insects in the Floriculture Building, where displays include a bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, butterfly and other specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, and arts and crafts from the Honey and Pollination Center.
In Today's Youth Building, six-year-old Mieko Heiser of Dixon is displaying "My Bug Exhibit," telling fairgoers how to catch, identity and pin insects. Her pinned insects include a honey bee, lacewing, field cricket and ladybug larvae. And, oh, yes, a spider (not an insect, but an arthropod).
"It's an amazing exhibit," said Sharon Payne, building superintendent and president of the Solano County 4-H Council. It won a best-of-show award, spotlighting the fair's theme, "Best of Show."
Here's what's "buggy" in the Floriculture Building, headed by florist Kathy Hicks:
- Entomologist Jeff Smith of the Bohart Museum will let fairgoers pet and hold a 22-year-old rose-haired tarantula from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11. He also plans to bring along Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. Those are a few of the live critters, permanent residents, in the Bohart Museum's "petting zoo." The UC Davis-based museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology, is home to nearly eight million insect specimens.
- Billy Synk, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is scheduled to answer questions about bees from 11 to 4 p.m., Friday, May 9.
- Cameron Jasper, bee scientist with the Brian Johnson lab at UC Davis, plans to share bee information with fairgoers from 4 to 6 on Friday, May 9.
- Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, will show youngsters how to make bee/flower puppets from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 10.
- You can also expect to see native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, there, too, schedule permitting.
Meanwhile, over on the UC Davis campus, a special event will take place on Friday, May 9 in the department's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. The occasion: National Public Gardens Day. The open house will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and includes a guided tour from 6 to 6:30. Haven manager Christine Casey says "We'll also be giving away sunflower plants along with information about how to monitor them for bee activity."
The half-acre bee garden is open daily from dawn to dusk. Expect to see lots of bees and other pollinators, plus the amazing work of the UC Davis Art/Science Program.
You'll not only see honey bees in a bee observation hive, but specimens of bumble bees, cuckoo bees, carpenter bees, long-horned bees, squash bees, plasterer bees, mining bees, leafcutter bees, wool carder bees and sweat bees.
The exhibit is in the Southard Floriculture Building on the May Fair grounds, located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
Participating are the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, both part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology; and the newly formed UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton, owner of BD Ranch and Apiary and a volunteer at the Laidlaw facility for several years, is providing the bee observation hive, a glassed-in box that enables viewers to observe the activity that goes on inside a bee hive.
Fishback, a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and member of the California State Beekeepers' Association, is an educator as well as a beekeeper. He speaks about bees at schools, organizations and festivals. His daughter, Emily, 2, accompanies him on many of his talks.
“Emily loves bees,” said Fishback, who keeps 125 hives on his property in Wilton. She knows that a bee has six legs, four wings and five eyes, and that each bee has three body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. She knows that a honey bee eats pollen and nectar, pollinates flowers and makes honey.”
UC Davis graduate students, including squash bee expert Katharina Ullmann and area beekeepers (among them Jesse Loren of Winters and Lindsay Weaver of Sacramento) will be available during part of the fair (weekend) to share their experiences with fairgoers.
Children attending the Dixon May Fair on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12 can make a "Honey Bee on a Stick," an arts and crafts project that doubles as a hand-held fan and puppet. Executive director Amina Harris of the Honey and Pollination Center, an area beekeeper and a former school teacher, will help the children create the take-home art. The free activity is from from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Southard Floriculture Building. Harris crafts the bee art using a yellow paper plate, duct tape, googly eyes, a stick, and pipe cleaners (for antennae).
The Dixon May Fair's floriculture building, staffed by superintendent Kathy Hicks of Dixon, includes stunning garden displays and a myriad of plants and cut flowers. It is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
If you head over to the 137th annual Dixon May Fair, the state's oldest continuous fair, you'll see a flurry of butterflies. The fair, located at 655 S. First St., Dixon, opened Thursday, May 10 and continues through Sunday, May 13.
Colorful specimens and butterfly posters from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, grace the Floriculture Building. Over in the Fine Arts and Photography Building and Today's Youth Building, scores of artists--young and young at heart--are displaying images or paintings of butterflies. In the Interior Living Showcase Building, a butterfly necklace sparkles.
The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis is showcasing a bee observation hive in the Floriculture Building, along with beekeeping equipment, a smoker, and informational posters. Also in the Floriculture Building, you'll see painted bee boxes, decorated with honey bees, from the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Ethel Calvello of Dixon, a retired teacher who painted the 26-foot-by-4-foot wall mural in the Wine Pavilion (complete with a bumble bee!), also created a ethereal butterfly painting exhibited in the Photography and Fine Arts Building. You can almost hear the wings fluttering.