For more than 160 years, the California State Fair has been bringing summertime fun to California residents. That’s a lot of years, which for any Sacramento native who has attended the annual event has probably resulted in many memories. The State Fair I remember, however, didn’t occur in July. It used to open in late August culminating in Labor Day weekend, typically the first long weekend in September.
One fond memory I have of the State Fair is that it was always something to look forward to at the end of summer. In fact, when I was younger, I used to refuse to go out of town or to summer camp, if it meant I’d miss the opening day of the State Fair. The excitement was always the same each year. The crowds and the food smells that you only get to experience once a year when everything seems to be happening at once.
Another fond memory at the old State fairgrounds on Stockton Boulevard was the Horse Show, an evening event full of pageantry and precision drills for riders as well as their gorgeous horses. I remember the first time I saw a rider “canter” her horse. This disciplined gait is slower than the gallop, but faster than a trot. An amazing combination of cooperation for horse and rider.
But my favorite memory of the State Fair isn’t about first impressions or horse shows. It’s about food! And, to this day, my favorite food are the tacos. Not just any tacos, but those that have been served from a food trailer since 1947. If you’ve been around Sacramento for as long as I have, you know the ones I’m talking about. The Old State Fair Tacos! Oscar Chapa’s family, out of Stockton, has made these tacos the same way with the same ingredients and flavor for 69 years. Even my mother loved those tacos and learned how to make them for us at home. Heck, I love those tacos so much, that one year my family and I had a taco eating contest and I’m proud to say I won. I can’t wait to taste those moist and delicious tacos dripping with Oscar Chapa’s home made hot sauce.
So readers, the California State Fair runs this year from July 8 – 24 and I’ll be there on opening day. Sure, I’ll visit the exhibits, and the wine tasting gardens. I’ll go to the horse races, as always, and maybe even take a ride on the ferris wheel. But, first you’ll find me at that trailer in the middle of food alley placing an order for those great Old State Fair Tacos.