My mom came and picked up I & the kids after 10 this morning and we parked early and got in the gates for the Sonoma County Fair before any lines formed. The exhibit halls were not yet open so we went and checked out the animals. We saw cows, goats, and horses. We stopped at the wildlife rescue tables (birds and animals) and checked out the poultry & rabbit cages. They even had a few guinea pigs on display too.
By this time, James wanted to run around, and the llama arena was ideal for that. They had a covered coral/pen area with a little grand stand area (also covered) set up in front of it. So James went around the stands in a circle for about half an hour while my mom & his sister made friends with Lakota, a sweetie of a llama who also sported a nifty hat w/ cutouts for his ears.
We learned lots of things about llamas, like they have no lanolin so their wool is not greasy. Their hairs are hollow on the inside, so even though they have a ton of it, the weight doesn't crush down. People who are allergic to sheep wool are not allergic to llama wool. Llamas have two toes in front and behind that is like a dog's paw. There are many, many, many llamas named "Kuzco." They have to complete an obstacle course while competing at the Nationals; the hair on their backs and torsos are also often shaved for the Nationals, to better show their lines. Americans are breeding llamas to be taller. The National Championships this year will be held in Nebraska (known for it's llamas ... not). While all this knowledge was being absorbed, James inhaled a whole PB&J "samich" and polished off a bottle of water.
Off we went to see the Flower Hall. James had a great time making animal sounds as we went. The theme for this year's Hall of Flowers was a weird one: Red, White, and Blue/Fall in a New England Garden. Yeah .... right. Those two go together like .... never mind. But somehow, it worked, and I ended up liking this the most of the several years I can remember!
I took eeeexactly a gazillion pics and ran down my battery. Some groupings of flowers were amazing -- I could see the fireworks star-burst patterns in the plantings. Others paired rust orange, purple, & golden yellows with the red, white and blue theme. And it worked. I am still trying to understand that. Instead of building up the framework for all the garden displays (fake mountains, pagoda, and buildings everywhere), the feeling was light and airy in the hall, which contributed to a glowing effects all the flowers had (which I adore).
Most of the faux buildings were right up against the hall walls. The exception was a huge covered bridge that crossed over a large, man-made pond and a lighthouse (complete with cottage and garden) on the far end of the pond. I was charmed.
Some of the gardens looked like they could have been sets at Disneyland (high praise indeed) and one went totally bonzo with a winter wonderland (complete w/ Santa sleigh, penguins, snowman, and fake snow and sparkly ice all over).
If you're a SoCo local and haven't seen it, I'd recommend going. That alone was worth $7 for me and I think we were in there with the kids for over half an hour.
Then we got cotton candy for & a snow cone for the kids. My mom went to go check out the amazing kinetic sculpture of San Francisco while they munched. She was so impressed I had to take a look -- it was AWESOME! And the guy who made it was talking about how he did it, while rolling ping-pong balls through it. Check out this video. I love people who make things like this!
And man I was bummed I'd zapped my battery by this time because it was an awesome piece of art!
So then we left about 1pm, and all the lines had formed to get tickets and in the gates. Our parking lot was almost full. There was no traffic going home. OMG, the perfect outing. Now the kids are napping and I am out in the back with Meow (the backyard cat) and coffee (and you). My husband is happy because he had most of yesterday to relax and today to wrassle with the garage; he is napping too.