If you attended the 141st annual Dixon May Fair, held May 5-8, and saw the honey bee display in Madden Hall, you probably heard the buzz.
In keeping with the theme, "Buzzing with Excitement," bees buzzed in the bee observation hives as fairgoers singled out the queen bee, worker bees and drones. Images of bees pollinating almonds graced the walls. Youths in Garry Haddon's beekeeping project in the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, displayed their decorated boxes. A smoker, gloves and beekeepers' suits lined a fence.
The UC Davis E.L. Niño lab, headed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Department of Entomology and Nematology, shared beekeeping equipment, facts about bees, pollinator posters (Guess if I'm a pollinator or not?) as well as bee observation hives. They told fairgoers that bees are responsible for a third of the food we eat, and if there were no bees to pollinator our crops, we wouldn't recognize the produce section of our supermarkets. Most of the shelves and bins holding fruits and vegetables would be empty.
Just think about the bees.
The 141st annual Dixon May Fair, California's oldest fair, is "Buzzing with Excitement," and that's the theme of the fair, which opens Thursday, May 5 for a four-day run.
Fairgoers will make a beeline for Madden Hall, the main thematic attraction. A glass bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis will entice visitors to find the queen, worker bees and drones. In addition, Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her fellow Laidlaw facility apiarists are providing beekeeping equipment, informative posters, decorated bee boxes made by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, and interactive displays, including a pollination poster ("Can you guess if I'm a pollinator?"). The El Niño Bee Lab will answer questions from fairgoers on Thursday and Friday.
Garry Haddon, beekeeping project leader of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, will showcase his honey as well as decorated bee boxes crafted by his 4-H'ers.
Chief administrative officer Patricia Conklin expects fairgoers to learn a lot about the importance of bees. Meanwhile, the final touches are underway.
In the Interior Living building, superintendent Debee LaMont is surrounded by a display of tasty desserts made with honey, and the proverbial bear ready to partake. Or just take.
Indeed, there's much to see and do at the fair, located at 655 S. First St. It's meant to inform, educate and entertain. Hours are neither "bankers' hours" nor "bee time." It's "people time":
- Thursday, May 5 from 4 to 11 p.m.
- Friday, May 6 from noon to 11 p.m.
- Saturday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Sunday, May 8 from noon to 11 p.m.
The biggest bargain is Thrifty Thursday Day with everyone five years and older admitted for $5. (Children under five receive free admission.) Check out the website at http://dixonmayfair.com for more information on prices and activities.
Meanwhile, it's good to see the focus on bees!
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.