Fairgrounds gearing up for 155th county fair

Laura Beaton
Staff Writer


After a 15-year hiatus, the fair’s once popular Sweetheart of the Mountains contest is returning to the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds.

The first Sweetheart ever, Shirley Dakin, was crowned in 1947. Her job was to represent the fairgrounds at various events across Plumas and Sierra counties. For the next 50 years the Sweetheart of the Mountains competition continued. Then, amid changing values and a decline in contestants, the contest was suspended, only to emerge reborn in 2014.

This year’s contest will incorporate three main judging components: poise, talent and community service. In addition, each contestant must submit at least one exhibit entry to the fair.

The Sweetheart wins a scholarship, rides in the fair parade, gets free entry into any ride or event and acts as a de facto ambassador of the Plumas-Sierra County Fair. This may entail attending and speaking at community outreach events such as Rotary Club and other service organization meetings.

Each community in Plumas County has a designated “den mother” to guide contestants through the process: Sierra Valley/Loyalton, Annie White; Portola/Graeagle, Maria Popish; Quincy, Leslie Froggatt; Indian Valley, Misty Banchio; and Lake Almanor/Chester, Marci Johnson.

Applications will soon be available for prospective contestants. Fair Manager John Steffanic told the board at its Feb. 26 meeting that the winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship and the runner-up will receive a $500 scholarship.

In addition, each contestant will keep 50 percent of her fundraising efforts to put toward a post-secondary fund.

Fair board director Barbara Butterfield and 1961 Sweetheart Nancy Gambell will be organizing the actual event at the fairgrounds. Contact Gambell at 927-7473 for more information.


Fair features

Steffanic reported that the fair exhibit guide will be printed this week. The guide has been updated to include two additional photography class exhibits in honor of the 150th anniversary of California State Parks.

A coloring contest for kids on the same theme was added as well. Another new photo category is “selfies,” or self-portraits taken with a cellphone or digital camera.

In addition to the regular fair fare of food and merchandise vendors, entertainers, the carnival, parade, American Valley Speedway events, exhibit halls, Art Barn, gardens, opportunity barn, 4-H and FFA animal projects and auction, the 2014 fair theme of Fun and Games will be woven throughout the fairgrounds.

The popular pig racing and tractor pulls will return, and an expo of games including some on a giant scale, such as Operation!, chess and checkers, will join many others in an indoor setting that will be open for all to play. Bingo, cribbage and an outdoor beach volleyball tournament are additional possibilities, Steffanic said.

The Battle of the Bands is slated for Friday night. Steffanic proposed awarding $1,500 in prize money to the top winning bands, as well as a performance slot on Old Town Stage for the champion band.


New officers

The board elected new officers for the 2014 year: Kenny Chance takes over the presidency and Tom Joyce the vice presidency.

Director Thelma Olsen, board liaison to the Fair Foundation committee, reported that the group is still waiting to hear back from the IRS regarding its application for nonprofit status. Meanwhile, a volunteer list is being compiled and the foundation’s next meeting is set for March 5.

The next fair board meeting is scheduled for March 26, 5 p.m.

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