And you won't want to miss it.
If you head over to the 69th annual Solano County Fair, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo, between now and Sunday, July 31, you'll see lots of bees, butterflies, lady beetles, dragonflies, ants and other insects in McCormack Hall. They're depicted in photos and drawings, and on display boards, quilts, cakes, muffins, China plate paintings and more.
Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall, and her crew assembled the last of the displays earlier this week, just in time for the opening on Wednesday, July 27. The fair is open weekdays until 11 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31, from noon to 11 p.m.
Fairs are educational, informative, and entertaining, and the Solano County Fair, launched in 1949, is no exception. This year's theme is "Play It Again, Solano!"
But, back to the insects. Most of the exhibits in McCormack, of course, do not showcase insects, but many do! And they are amazing!
Have you ever seen a honey bee on a rock? Andrew Donato of Vallejo, has. In fact, he painted a bee on a rock and entered it in the 9-10 age graphic arts category. It's a winner!
Lexi Haddon Mendes of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, entered a decorated cake, "Flowers and Bees," in her age division, 9-10. She knows bees; she's a beekeeper and her father heads the club's beekeeping project.
Madeline Giron of Benicia entered muffins decorated with colorful ladybugs, aka lady beetles, in her 11-13 age division. Judges said "Yum!" and "Beautiful!" and "Blue Ribbon!"
Joseph Garrett of Fairfield entered several mounted insect specimens--along with a wolf spider (spiders are not insects)--in the science project division, ages 5-8. Is Joseph an entomologist-to-be?
The work of the adults is also incredible!
- Laquita Cumings of Rodeo entered a quilt of the most colorful butterflies you've ever seen. Best of show!
- Kim English of Fairfield entered a "Dresden design" China painting, adorned with flowers, butterflies and a bee.
- Celia Weller of American Canyon crafted a machine-quilted wall hanging adorned with flowers and an exotic butterfly not found in nature--but found at McCormack Hall.
- Beverly O'Hara of Benicia appliqued a quilt with ants and called it "Ant-titude." Clever! It features ants enjoying a picnic. What's a picnic without ants?
- Anita Jessop of Benicia imagined a field of flowers, and quilted a "Sunny Field of Flowers" wall hanging, complete with a hummingbird and dragonflies.
- Laura Ryan of Benicia entered a fan needlepoint anchored with a delightful blue butterfly. Reminds us of the blue morpho!
Those are just some of the prize-winning exhibits by youth and adults displayed at McCormack Hall. Be sure to check out the other buildings as well for an overall look at what the fair offers. The fair ends on Sunday, July 31 at 11 p.m.
Gloria Gonzalez, a longtime 4-H volunteer, has worked on the McCormack Hall displays for 11 years and has served as the superintendent for three years. She's the community leader of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, a position she's held for eight years.
The veteran 4-H adult volunteer has served as a project leader in the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club for 18 years. Many of the folks who crew McCormack Hall are also 4-H'ers, including Sharon Payne, a past president of the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council; and longtime 4-H'ers turned leaders, Angelina Gonzalez and Julianna Payne, all of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club.
What we've always loved about the county fairs: the incredible exhibits. Especially exhibits dealing with photographs and paintings of insects.
When the 68th annual Solano County Fair in Vallejo opens Wednesday, July 29 and continues through Sunday, Aug. 2, you'll see butterflies and bees (live ones!) on the grounds at 900 Fairgrounds Drive, but inside the exhibit halls, you'll see other bugs.
In the adult section, Iris Mayhew of Vallejo, who acknowledges being a beginning artist, painted a Western tiger swallowtail on a decorative plate. She's hoping to get more involved in painting insects, including honey bees and dragonflies.
It's art imitating real life but she's made it her own. It was Oscar Wilde who wrote in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life".
Last Sunday, McCormack Hall superintendent Gloria Gonzalez and assistant superintendent Sharon Payne and assistants Angelina Gonzalez, Julianna Payne and Iris Mayhew and her 10-year-old Ian Mayhew, all of Vallejo, were busily dressing up the hall for fairtime. They affixed best-of-show, best-of-division and blue ribbons (bragging rights) to the exhibits, transforming a once empty hall to a county celebration.
The work of the Gonzalez-Payne team will bring back memories of fairs gone by--from weathered old barns to intricately detailed quilts to patiently pickled preserves. Yes, someone even preserved quail eggs!
It's time to round up friends and family to see what the county fair has to offer.
And quite appropriately, the theme is "Meet Me at the Fair!"
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!
Say the word “wings” to folks who attend fairs and festivals and they may think of something to eat--buffalo wings or chicken wings.
But if you head over to McCormack Hall at the Solano County Fair, Vallejo, you'll be thinking of insect flight.
Flight of butterflies and moths. And maybe a ladybug or two.
Butterflies grace wall hangings, quilts and t-shirts and also appear in photographs and arts and crafts projects. You'll also encounter other bugs, including a moth (photograph), and a youngster's educational display board about spiders. (For those who aren't fond of spiders, these are illustrations.)
The 65th annual fair, themed "Cruisin' the County," opened Wednesday, July 30 and ends on Sunday, Aug. 3. The theme spotlights classic and unique cars.
Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of the McCormack Hall building, and her crew have done a marvelous job setting up and displaying the many exhibits, which range from youth photos, preserved foods, and baked goods to quilts, special collections and arts and crafts projects.
Among the special butterfly and moth attractions we spotted:
- "Butterfly Lovers," a hand-and-machine quilted wall hanging by Tina Waycie of Vallejo
- "Butterflies," a needlepoint (stamped cross-stitchery) by Marlo Wilson of Vallejo, adult division
- "Butterfly T-Shirt," a textile project by Leslie Dunham of PACE Solano, adult division
- "Flying Wing," a machine-quilted wall hanging by Suzanne Ruiter of Fairfield, adult division
- "Moth," a photo by 9-year-old Maximilian Burgess-Shannon of Benicia
Gloria Gonzalez, a longtime 4-H leader (she's the co-community leader of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo) kept busy finishing up the displays last Sunday. Among those assisting were Sharon Payne, past president of the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council and the superintendent of the youth exhibit building at the Dixon May Fair; Gloria's daughter, Angelina Gonzalez, who leads the arts and crafts project for Sherwood Forest; and their colleague Iris Mahew of American Canyon.
Angelina, who recently received her master's degree in sociology from Sacramento State, is also the Solano County representative to the Statewide 4-H SET (science, engineering and technology) Program. (By the way, she's also a great cook--her caramel cookies won best of show.)
Fairs are all about informing, educating and entertaining--not necessarily in that order. They are a place where you can browse through the exhibit halls, enjoy the carnival rides, check out the 4-H and FFA livestock and the junior livestock auction, attend a free concert, and eat a bacon-wrapped hot dog. (Actually, I think something vegetarian sounds better!)
We're especially glad to see the insect-themed exhibits in McCormack Hall. It's not just vehicles that "cruise" the county or parts of the county.
Insects do, too.