September 9, 1986

A County Fair San Francisco Style
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April Dozier (L) and Liz Bachert of the Skatch Skate Patrol warm-up for a roller skating demonstration at the San Francisco Fair Sunday at Fort Mason.
    By Rachel Menzi

Pigs and cows. Lots of food. Silly contests. Hordes of sightseers from far away. Sounds like your basic county fair in Dogpatch, Tenn. right partner? Well, almost.

This county fair was the fifth annual San Francisco County Fair. That explains why this here county fair was just a little different. The cows at the Fort Mason event that took place over the weekend were cardboard - all but two anyway. The pigs were only exotic visitors from out-of-town. The contests weren't bronco bustin' or horseshoe pitchin', they were competing in parking races, fog calling and wine tasting.

That wasn't Buck Owens singing his country boy heart out either at the Biggest Singles Dance Ever. It was Heartbeat.

Outside, in the typically late summer San Francisco weather of wind and fog, there were such cosmopolitan country fair booths as psychics, crafts and clothing alongside displays for AT&T, PacTel, Greenpeace and the San Francisco Conservation Corps.

The most famous event, the Impossible Parking Space Race, was won by Roger LaRue, a theatrical producer in San Francisco. His winning time was 35 minutes - eight minutes slower than last year's winner, John Colman. Colman, who won the race three years in a row, did not participate this year.

This year's race contestants had to find spaces in each of four neighborhoods: North Beach, Chinatown, Union Square and the Inner Richmond. Unlike previous years, colored zones, Saturday and fifteen-minute-only spaces did not count. These changes and the distance of the Inner Richmond area from the downtown areas helped increase the completion times 'of the contestants.

Another famous contest, the Fog Calling Contest, was won by Michael Hicks of San Francisco. Wearing a lampshade hat, Hicks gave a remarkable imitation of the foghorns which surround the Bay. As Hicks moaned, the real foghorns could be heard answering through the mist, as though they and not the fog were the objects of his calls.

The contestants for the Urban Scarecrow Award were made up of a variety of materials, from pieces of junk to old clothing and torn dollar bills. The winner was Tomas Nakada of San Francisco. His seven-foot tall construction of rusty scrap metal and pipe leaned over the other contestants in the crowded display area, which looked more like the latest Municipal Sculpture than a collection of the traditional rural creations.

Near the Urban Scarecrows was the token agricultural exhibit, consisting of one half-ton boar, a dozen squealing piglets, children together in a large pen and two large Holstein dairy cows, the 'Theme Cows' of the exhibit. Neither the piglets nor the children seemed to notice anything unusual about the event. Perhaps one fair is very like another, at least to those inside the pens.