A Call for Entries: How to Participate in the Santa Cruz County Fair

The Santa Cruz County Fair

The Santa Cruz County Fair will take place September 14-18, ushering in the fall season with five days of carnival games and rides, racing pigs and wild turkey stampedes, endless deep-fried food options, and our favorite—exhibition halls filled with local community talent.

Each year, the fair receives hundreds of entries from county residents, young and old, vying for bragging rights and blue ribbons on their homemade and homegrown goods, artwork, and collections.

If you or your child has created something, there’s a good chance you can and should enter it into the fair, and we’re here to help you get those entries in on time.

Not only is it fun to enter the fair as an exhibitor, it’s neat to see what your fellow community members are cooking up, as well as photographing, painting, collecting, knitting, homebrewing, and even programming or building out of Legos.

This ain’t your grandma’s apple pie and berry jam competition.

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First, we suggest finding your area of interest in the official 2016 Entry Guide.

While you’ll still find traditional apple pie and berry jam contests, the Santa Cruz County Fair has changed with the the times and among its most popular categories are Legos and Technology.

In the past few years, we’ve seen the Crosetti Building explode with stop-motion video, robots, 2D and 3D animation, as well as original and built-from-a-kit Lego creations.

At the same time, we’ve discovered categories for poetry, amateur winemaking, cake decorating, and best-dressed zucchini. Seriously, your whole family can showcase their talents at the fair.

You can submit your entry form online.

Once you’ve decided what to enter in the fair, go over the rules and regulations that apply to your category.

Each department has its own set so it’s important to take note of the requirements—for example, how artwork should be framed—and mark the deadlines on your calendar.

Many online entries are due August 20th, however, most can also be submitted in-person on the day you bring your entry to the fairgrounds.

Let the creativity flow.

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In some cases, you might already have something you’ve made and realize it’s eligible for the fair. Yay! You can also go through your child’s artwork to see if there’s anything they’re particularly proud of and willing to enter.

If not, it’s time to let your creative juices flow.

One idea is to host a craft day at your house. This works incredibly well for categories like Cake Decorating and Vegetable Creatures because every family can contribute frosting and sprinkles or fruits and veggies, and kids can feed off each other’s creativity.

Form a drop off/pick up carpool.

If you don’t already live in or near south county, you’re looking at at least three round trips to and from Watsonville fairgrounds—one to drop off your entry, one to attend the fair, and one to pick up your entry after the fair.

Important: All items must be picked up on Monday, September 19th between noon and 7PM.

Finding at least one other friend to take turns with is helpful and saves gas. And our advice if you’re transporting and dropping off multiple Lego creations: take pictures before loading them into the car!

Attend the fair.

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Last but not least, buy your tickets for the fair. It really adds a fun element to watch your child look for his or her entries and see what ribbon they’ve won, or to discover your own talents rewarded by the judges.

Here are some dates to remember:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 14th is Senior Day – 62 & over $9.00 (Grandparents love to see what the grandkids entered!)
  • Wednesday, Sept. 14th is Kids Day – 12 & under FREE from noon till closing.
  • Thursday, Sept. 15th is Education Day – 2nd – 4th grade students FREE from 9AM to 12PM (must apply early).

If you don’t get around to entering the fair this year, visit the exhibition halls anyway. It’s a good way to cool off from the heat during the day and get inspired. You may walk away with a new hobby idea, or plans for next year and the start of a new creative summer tradition.

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About Christine Candelaria

Christine Candelaria is a local mom of four who enjoys sharing her Santa Cruz adventures. You can follow her #santacruzlife on Instagram at @theaumsmama.

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