Lewis Griswold

Griswold: Tulare County Fair changing food booths and cutting ticket price

New Tulare County Fair CEO Pam Fyock is changing the mix of food booths to boost attendance -- critical because the state stopped funding county fairs three years ago.

"Food and animals are the No. 1 thing that people go to the fair for," Fyock says. "You get something to eat and walk around and look at the animals."

The fair runs Sept. 10-14 in Tulare. Fyock says she dropped the ticket price by a dollar to $8 per person to make the fair a value for families.

The new food options include Milo Franks Corn Dogs' jalapeño corn dog, Big Jim's ribeye sandwich, Sweet Cheek's deep-fried cheesecake, PHD & Me's jalapeño or garlic pretzels, Hot Diggety Dog's hot dogs, Shannon Speidell's deep-dish cobbler, J & M's sea salt and caramel milk shakes, and Gene's Artichokes' artichokes.

"The Tulare County Fair is a calorie-free zone," Fyock says. "You're allowed to eat as much as you want all day long."

Food booths will have $1 samples -- one item per booth -- from 4-8 p.m. Sept. 11.

Fyock also vowed to increase community involvement. Last weekend, about 250 people arrived for a volunteer workday of sweeping, pruning, cleaning, painting, planting flowers, installing livestock pens and laying bark.

"It's very well manicured now," Fyock says.

A new attraction appropriate to the area (after all, says Fyock, "Tulare is the No. 1 dairy county in the country") will be a butter sculpture, courtesy of Land O' Lakes and the California Milk Advisory Board. Jim Victor will sculpt the 500-pound Buttercup "The Butter Cow" in a refrigerated room with a window for people on the outside to watch through.

Another way Fyock is drumming up interest is by helping out a neighbor to the north. The first 500 people into a rodeo Sept. 6 before the fair will get a free ticket to the Big Fresno Fair, and the first 2,000 people in the gate Sept. 11 will get a free ticket.

Tulare County Fair


(free with gate admission)

Sept. 10: heavy metal and comedy act Metalachi, 8 p.m.

Sept. 11: rhythm and blues performer Morris Day and The Time, 8 p.m.

Sept. 12: rocker Eddie Money, 8 p.m.

Sept. 13: country singer JT Hodges, 8 p.m.

Sept. 14: Tower of Power, 8 p.m.


Sept. 11: Tractor pull, 7 p.m. Free with gate admission.

Sept. 12: Motorcycle Thrill Show, 8:30 p.m. Free with gate admission.

Sept. 13: Destruction Derby, 6 p.m. $15; $20 reserved seating before Sept. 13. $5 additional day of event. Does not include gate admission.

Sept. 14: Gran Jaripeo-Baile Mexican rodeo, 4 p.m. Ticketed event.


Sept. 12: corn dog-eating contest, 6 p.m.

Sept. 14: diaper derby (babies in diapers racing on all fours), noon; Kids' Talent Showcase finals, 2:30 p.m.


www.tcfair.org or (559) 686-4707

Hanford police chief retiring

Hanford Police Chief Carlos Mestas will retire in September after a 38-year career in law enforcement, including 11 as chief.

Mestas, 65, switched his major from history to criminology at California State University, Fresno, joined the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, rose to captain, then applied for Hanford police chief.

"I love Hanford," he says.

He put the image of the Hanford Civic Auditorium on police patches.

Hanford, population 55,000, has 55 officers, up from 46 when Mestas arrived.

He says he decided to retire after one of his grandchildren invited him to a Grandparent's Day event, but he couldn't attend due to work commitments.

"That did it," he says.

A retirement dinner will be held Sept. 19 at the Hanford Civic Auditorium.

Mestas' spouse, Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas, said that unlike her husband, she has no immediate plans to retire.

Good detective work

Carlos Mestas recently helped solve the homicide of a Hanford woman who was shot to death on a sidewalk at night.

A grainy surveillance video shows a car driving up, the driver getting out and walking into the darkness, a flash of gunfire and the shooter returning and driving away. But the image is so dark it's hard to identify the make and model of the car.

The chief wondered if someone from a car dealer could make it out -- "they know cars" -- and a dealership employee was able to identify it as a late-model Ford Mustang.

Investigators checked with a car rental company and found one had been rented at the time of the slaying. Two suspects who police linked to the car and the victim are awaiting trial.