California State Fair judges have selected Inyo County’s exhibit for honors once again based on its appeal to visitors.
This year’s exhibit theme, “I Wish …,” provides an opportunity for nine local exhibit volunteers to teach residents from all over the state that if they ever wished to be a cowboy or a movie star, an angler or an archeologist – or just about anything else – Inyo County is the star they can wish upon to make their dreams come true.
At the State Fair Awards Ceremony last week in Sacramento, Inyo received a silver award for its exhibit, which features photos, murals, videos and plenty of reading material to teach attendees about all the recreational opportunities Inyo has to offer.
Specific features of the exhibit include a Tony Rowell video titled “Exploring Inyo County” which he created specifically for the Fair; three murals by artist Ruby Garza depicting famous scenes from Inyo; a video of Mule Days, High School Rodeo and the Buttermilk area by Skandar Reid; a ranching photo collage by Lester Leslie, which was a favorite at the 2011 Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair; materials provided by Manzanar National Historic Site; and many photos and other materials provided by individuals and organizations showing off-road recreation, backcountry packing and fishing opportunities.
Kathy White of Independence, who, along with her husband Rich, has been managing the state fair exhibit for the county since 2004, said one of the biggest draws this year has been the Death Valley Dave skeleton, which has caught the eye of many passersby and drawn them into the exhibit.
“We’ve had a lot of people come in just to have their picture taken with him. It just says ‘Death Valley’ and it helps people recognize where we are,” White said, pointing out that many State Fair visitors don’t know where Inyo County is, but recognize its landmarks, such as Death Valley and Mt. Whitney.
This year’s exhibit also features a replica of a geothermal plant, similar to the one located in Southern Inyo, which has generated a lot of interest from visitors.
“We also have a display called, ‘I Wish for Things to Do on Weekends’ that shows a schedule of all our events and lists a number of our churches,” White said. “People are also really enjoying the pictures we have of the Saline Valley Hot Springs.”
The county’s State Fair exhibit is funded through a $10,000 grant from Inyo County to help promote countywide tourism. The Whites and seven other volunteers from Tecopa to Independence are on hand to answer questions from Fair attendees.
“People keep thanking us for having our county represented,” White said. “They’re just happy to see that we have warm bodies here and we try to educate people because a lot of them don’t know about Inyo County.”
Overall, White said the Fair is going well for Inyo County, with more than 1,100 people visiting the booth last Wednesday, and 1,354 visiting on Saturday.
The California State Fair will be open through Aug. 1, and White said local residents who visit the event are encouraged to stop by the booth and maybe find some new recreational ideas in their own backyard… or share some of their ideas with out-of-the-area visitors who are interested in what the Eastern Sierra has to offer.