Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

Plenty of first-time events join this year's lineup of traditional favorites

It's a tribute to the Del Norte County Fair that all of its new events - and there are several this year - pale in comparison to the fair's traditional attractions.

If you've come to the fair before, you know what you'll get: midway thrills; livestock, craft and plant exhibits; and entertainment including live music, a rodeo and a Demolition Derby/Tuff Trucks competition.

Those are some of the standards at the fair, which begins its 120th annual run today at the county fairgrounds. "Fair by the Sea Since 1893" continues through Sunday.

As for those new events, a lot of them are set for today.

The Minute-to-Win-It games and Ice Cream Eating Contest get rolling at 1:30 p.m. on the Pond Stage.

First- through third-place winners will earn medals and all others will receive ribbons.

Here's a list of the no-hands-allowed games:

andbull; Pedometer on head: a pedometer is strapped to contestants' heads; they shake their heads for one minute and whoever has the highest number of "shakes" is the winner.

andbull; Kleenex box and ping pong balls: A Kleenex box is strapped to the waist with a number of ping pong balls inside. Players have a minute to get all the balls out by shaking their hips.

andbull; Vaseline on cotton balls: A dab of petroleum jelly is applied to players' noses; they must pick up cotton balls with their noses and transfer them to a bowl.

andbull; Oreo on face: Lying flat, players must wiggle an Oreo from the forehead to the mouth.

andbull; Spaghetti and macaroni game: With an uncooked spaghetti noodle in the mouth, players must string macaroni noodles onto the spaghetti noodle.

andbull; Fishing for pretzels: A gummy worm is attached to the end of a fishing pole and contestants must get the pretzel to stick to the gummy worm and then get the pretzel to the mouth without using hands.

andbull; The Ice Cream Eating Contest will begin at 4 p.m., also on the Pond Stage. Sponsored by local "ice cream man" Wayne Bolman, kids 12 and under have one minute to eat as much ice cream as they can. The same prizes as the aforementioned games will be given.

Cost of the games and ice cream contest is included in the fair admission.

Another new attraction set for today is the Gymkhana event, sanctioned by the California State Horseman's Assoc., Inc. Participants saddle up and partake in several horse-manuevering contests such as Clover and Skill barrels, Big T, Single Stake and the Birangle. Sign-ups are at 2 p.m. with the first event starting at 3 p.m. The all-day entry fee is $32. Call show manager Trish Melvin for registration and information at 954-4183.

On Friday, another new fair event will be the Antique Appraisal Show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Arts and Crafts Building. Bring up to two antiques per person for a free appraisal (included in admission to the fair) by appraiser Gary Germer. Items must be small enough for attendees to carry through the gate. Larger items must be prearranged with the fair office.

"You might have a treasure that's sitting out there somewhere, always wondering what the value is," said fairgrounds CEO Randy Hatfield. "It should be interesting for the general public as well as those with an (antique) item."

The Ranch Sorting National Championships is another new event that'll also take place Friday, with sign-ups at 9 a.m. and the event starting at 10 a.m.

Ranch sorting is a timed event in which two horseback riders working as a team drive numbered cattle from one pen to the other in the correct numerical order, while keeping other cattle back. Both beginners and professionals can compete.

"It's challenging for people who have never done it before and for pros alike," said Hatfield. "It'll be fun to watch."

Tonight brings one of the traditional fair events as well, the Miss Del Norte competition at 6:30 p.m. at the Sutter Coast Hospital Events Center.

And on Friday there's the Sarah Darling country music concert at 6 p.m. on the Onion Stage. Entry to both events is free with fair admission.

Hatfield expects big audiences and competitors from all over the region to participate in Saturday's popular Junior Rodeo and the Redwood Coast Rodeo.

Sunday's Demolition Derby/Tuff Trucks competition also packs them in. A total of $5,000 in purse money will be awarded, as well as trophies.

The annual 4-H, FFA and Grange Livestock Auction is Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Ace Pavilion.

And on all four days, the fair offers exhibits galore and a midway filled with carnival rides and games, including a chance to "walk on water" in the "Bobble Lagoon," a big plastic squishy ball that people can get zipped up inside of and then roll around on the surface of the water. It's the same attraction as the past two years with the "Aqua Bubble."

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