Arts & Entertainment

Then and now: LA County Fair opens for its 90th anniversary (PHOTOS)

L.A. County Fair fireworks from the 1930s.
L.A. County Fair fireworks from the 1930s.
L.A. County Fair

If you’re looking to jump start your holiday weekend, you may want to load up the kids Friday and visit the L.A. County Fair in Pomona, the largest in the country.

The fair first opened 90 years ago in a beet and barley field. Back then, along with agricultural and livestock exhibits, it featured horse and chariot racing — along with airplane wing-walking demonstrations.

That was about all, said programmer Leslie Galerne.

“Definitely our programming has really changed if you look at some of the stuff that we have now compared to even 20 years ago," she said. "We’re a very innovative fair. We’re always looking for new things to show our guests, so if you compare now to 1922, I think our guests from 1922 would not know what to do with us now.”

Operators are launching the event a little earlier in the year than usual to honor the fair’s 90th anniversary.

Expect to see the usual barnyard piglets, horse racing and other live animal amusements. Planners have added some new attractions, including an 800-foot-long zip line above the park and an exhibition about 50 great inventors.

Of course, some things will always remain the same — including all that fried, fluffy, gooey, yummy stuff to eat. For people who’d prefer a taste of homegrown agriculture, there’s that option, too.

“When people visit, they can actually see lettuce growing and tomatoes growing, and obviously its seasonal," Galerne said. "But they get to see that and see how it translates to what they eat on their plates, because if they go to our restaurant, they can actually eat the food that was actually grown right here on our grounds.”

There’s also much more to spend your money on.

“Mattresses and boats and Jacuzzis and all sorts of cooking utensils that you never knew you needed. We have that," Galerne said. "And I’m sure over the years its evolved based simply on trends in the marketplace, and our sales team here is always looking for that next new gadget.”

All that commerce, along with the midway rides, ag exhibits and more, continues for 24 days. Musical acts include an array of artists including the British boy group the Wanted (who performs tonight), the Average White Band, Chaka Khan and Earth, Wind and Fire.