YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollectionsBrawley

As Friday approaches, fairgrounds come alive

February 25, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — It is the last weekend before the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta at the Imperial Valley Expo here.

Driving past the expo on Highway 86, the fairgrounds appear quiet. There are few indications that on Friday the fair will start.

Inside the fairgrounds it is a different story.

On Saturday, the fair was a scene of nonstop activity as maintenance crews worked to put final touches on the fairgrounds, 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs readied the animal barns and others worked to finish special displays.

Those doing maintenance on the fairgrounds said they feel a sense of responsibility to make sure the fairgrounds are clean for the tens of thousands who will attend the fair.


"We have a lot of stuff to get ready so it will be ready for the fair and we have keep it looking good throughout the fair," said El Centro resident Tish Haywood, one of the part-time maintenance workers hired for the fair.

Dionte Hawkins of El Centro was busy Saturday laying chalk lines in the parking lot.

"This is for the kids," he said of the work he and others are doing. "You have to have stuff clean for them."

Near the animal barns, Jeff Holt of El Centro and Eddie Jones of Imperial, the two full-time maintenance workers at the fairgrounds, were working with a construction crew to make sure lighting was ready.

"It takes a lot to keep the fair running," said Jones, who has worked at the fairgrounds for 27 years. "It takes a lot to make it happen, from maintenance to parking attendants to security."

In the Preble Building, Brawley resident Ted G. Flores was working to complete a display he built that will showcase how agriculture grew in the Imperial Valley from a desert.

The display, built from chicken wire and papier-mâché, shows a canal check gate in the center. Nylon-type paper will represent water and a fan will be placed underneath the paper to simulate water moving through the check gate.

Some 400 fiber-optic lights will be built into the display to represent droplets of water shooting from the gate.

There will be four stations around the check gate that will show how the desert landscape turned into lush fields over the past 100 years.

The display will show signs of the future of agriculture, with a set showing the under-construction beef plant in Brawley and the growing of sugar cane as an experimental crop in the Valley.

Flores said it took three months to plan the display and he has been building it for 22 days. He said the display will be ready by Wednesday.

"I like to build these displays," said Flores, a graphic artist and owner of Ted's Signs and Graphics in Brawley. "The bigger the display with movement and animation just makes it more exciting."

Elsewhere on the fairgrounds, youth clubs were busy getting the barns clean and ready for the animals that will inhabit pens throughout the fair.

Evan Natwick, 13, of the Verde 4-H Club in Holtville was working to plant flowers in front of one of the barns as part of a contest to beautify the fairgrounds.

"We decided to make flower sombreros," said Evan as he worked with his father.

Inside a barn, a group of parents and children was working to build cages for the rabbits.

Alan Brinkman of El Centro, who has two children in the Mount Signal 4-H Club, said he is happy to help his kids get ready for the fair, although he said it is tiring.

"The kids and the parents get a little warn down before the fair," Brinkman said, taking a break from his work. Sweat dropped from his forehead.

Tim Shawver was putting together a cage with his wife, Sandi, leader of the Holtville 4-H Club.

"It's all for the kids," Tim Shawver said.

Maintenance crews were busy mowing grass, placing banners outside the fairgrounds along Highway 86, putting lights around trees and were making sure bathrooms were clean.

Bill Blair, fair chief executive officer, said of his maintenance staff: "Without them we wouldn't have a fair."

He said such workers are making sure trash is picked up every day and that the fairgrounds are ready at the start of each day of the fair.

Blair said on Monday rides will start to arrive and by noon Friday the fair will be ready for the crowds.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles