SALINAS VALLEY — Salinas Valley Fair 2021 took place with an altered format due to Covid-19 pandemic health guidelines, but it was the first time since 2019 that fair-goers were able to show animals or pick up carnival food in person.
This year’s animal judging was split into two portions. Swine were brought in May 11 and judged May 12, and then sheep, goats and beef were brought in May 14 and judged May 15.
The expanded, multi-day lineup was accompanied by a popup carnival food event, with multiple vendors selling snacks throughout each day, as well as a roster of evening movies and entertainment.
This was a shift back toward an in-person fair after last year’s event had to be completely canceled due to the pandemic.
“Fair food has been all week,” said Lauren Hamilton, the fair’s interim CEO. “It’s been a really popular event. They enjoyed having some kind of fair feel without having the fair here.”
Of the entertainment, Hamilton said Sol Treasures’ Disney Drive-In Concert brought in a 54-car audience and the drive-in theater movies had an estimated 15 to 20 cars show up each night.
The animal judging, however, was lower than prior years.
“In a normal year, we’re at about 1,000 animals, but this year we’re at 415 animals,” Hamilton said.
Despite having fewer animals than typical years and being split into two main exhibitions, Hamilton said she received positive feedback from parents. She felt the many hours her staff put in to make sure the show was up and running and also approved was noticed by the families.
“Every year they look forward to the King City fair and everybody’s been super thankful,” Hamilton said. “They understand that May is here, and as the fair kicks off, it starts off the summer. Not having the fair last year, it was a disappointing year.”
The community feel of having a fair atmosphere is one aspect Hamilton described as being of importance. Whether people walk in to get food or stay to talk to friends, there is a festive atmosphere to enjoy.
With eyes set to the future, county approval of plans and state health orders cannot be predicted, but Hamilton said plans are in the works for a Fall Carnival. As long as health guidelines allow for such an event, the fairgrounds staff will work to bring that event later in the year.
“It’s a great place for family fun and it’s very simple, and we enjoy putting it together for everybody,” Hamilton said.