A Quick Opinion: Going to the fair seemed like old times

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Charley Wallace
Publisher Emeritus

The Yolo County Fair is always a hit, even if it was a little warm this year. I only did a quick walk around this year on my way to my shift at the Rotary Beer Booth. Everything looked just the same as it did a couple of years ago, or maybe a couple of decades past. Most years, I stop by the corndog booth, but this year I only slowed down as I walked by. They are just too good to have just one, but maybe next year I’ll have my usual two,  with mustard.

Something new was the addition of the Yolo County Fair Museum that just opened. It is a nice space and I’m sure it will fill up with great treasurers over the years. I’m just hoping that they find enough volunteers to have regular hours during events at the fairgrounds.

I’m on the Rotary committee that helps make the beer booth happen and a big question was how many people did we think would attend. Our beer supplier thought we would be up 10 to 15 percent, but only time will tell if they were correct. We ordered our supplies hoping that we would have fair attendance would be up. We returned a lot of our supplies on Monday, but I’m still hoping sales were still up.

I only spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the fair, but it didn’t seem to be as crowded as before COVID. After it started cooling off there was a nice flow of customers and after the destruction derby it really picked up. The music was loud (a sign of my age) and people were enjoying the music, along with our beer, wine and some kind of flavored water beverage.

I’m usually just a worker bee at the fair, but for some reason someone put me in charge of Saturday evening. The 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. volunteers needed more supervision than I wanted to give them. Luckily there are Rotarians who want to teach people how to pour a beer without wasting gallons to fill just one glass. I wanted to just tell the volunteer Rotarian that maybe he needed to find another job.

The 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. crew was close to perfect. It was like they had served beer at the fair for years, which turned out to be a true statement. It takes 12 to 15 volunteers to sell tickets, check IDs and keep the beer flowing. My main job was to keep the kegs tapped, hand out water to the crew and watch for patrons that might be drinking too much. Luckily someone else was in charge of the money — a retired police officer and current Rotarian — and transports it to the bank at closing time.

We stopped ticket sales at 11 p.m. and stopped pouring at 11:30 p.m. I started looking at my watch at 10, which is my bedtime. I found a keg to sit on and a Rotarian came over to me to see if I was okay. This isn’t a young group and one Rotarian had already suffered from heat exhaustion earlier that afternoon. We gave her some water and called her son to pick her up. She seemed better after drinking the water and sitting down in the shade. I should have put her in the 42-degree beer trailer.

My main job was climbing into the semi-trailer and changing out the empty kegs. We were running seven kegs at a time and went through about 30 kegs on my shift. Climbing over, or more accurately, walking on top of kegs, tested my balance. Walking back with an empty keg in one hand and a flashlight in the other was the real test. If two of us went into the trailer, we would both comment that the weather was nicer inside than out.

There are ten Rotary Clubs in Yolo County, so the workload is shared according to the size of the club, but profits are split evenly. Not sure who came up with that idea, but it helps smaller clubs like the Rotary Club of Winters. One hundred percent of the money we receive from our fundraisers goes to local projects like the new Senior Center or other community needs.

If you didn’t get to the fair this year, you can always look forward to a corndog and a beverage next year.

Enjoy the end of summer and have a good week.

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