I heard a strange growling sound as I left the shopping district at the Los Angeles County Fair. At first I thought it was my stomach calling for a smoked rib sandwich or a mountain of onion rings. But when the roar erupted again, I knew it was something much bigger than me; something from a lost world.
My getaway to the fair began Thursday at noon when the gates opened and thousands of people filed into the annual event, now in its 87th year. Once inside, my friend went to the race track and I headed for the Shopping Place.
Located in five air-conditioned buildings, the Shopping Place has it all. There are booths with cooking demonstrations, water purifiers, hand crafted jewelry, food processors, leather jackets, solar powered items, tools, massage chairs, wooden collectables, beds, coffins, colorful pitchmen selling Sham Wows and salsa makers, and much more. There is even a bible from 1615 on display.
The shopping area was great, but what I discovered in a building behind it was even more fascinating. I unearthed Jurassic Planet, a prehistoric expedition featuring life-sized animated dinosaurs and hands-on exhibits from the seven continents.
Most people are familiar with dinosaurs from North America and Europe, but all the continents contain dinosaur fossils. In this must-see exhibit, dinosaurs from around the world are recreated in their original landscape. Not only are the creatures huge and menacing-looking, but they also move their heads, tails and claws, as well as roar, blink and flash their giant sharp teeth.
Highlights of the 20 animated dinosaurs include the fin-backed upright crocodilian Suchiomimus from Africa, the bizarre Australian plant eating Muttaburrasaurus, the club-tailed armored South American Euoplocephalus, and the short-armed, big-teethed T-Rex from North America.
The exhibit also offers kids a chance to be a paleontologist and look for bones at a “dig site,” and meet Alex the Alligator in Chomp Swamp.
From Jurassic Planet I traveled 200 million years back to the present and explored the Flower & Garden Pavilion’s Gateway to Africa, where I found a beautiful flowery tribute to the continent’s rich deserts, savannahs, jungles and tropical rainforests.
I encountered floral giraffes and elephants towering over lush vegetation, zebras showing off their stripes while grazing savannahs, monkeys and tigers sneaking in the brush, and the floral kingdoms of South Africa and the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
Next to the African exhibit is Bark Park, where visitors can meet stunt dogs and rescue dogs and watch the canines perform incredible acrobatic tricks. Guests also have the opportunity to adopt a rescue dog each weekend.
Other fair highlights include a carnival with 70 rides; a barn where visitors can learn about the dairy industry and meet llamas, sheep, goats, baby pigs, a miniature burro; and upcoming live concerts with LeAnn Rimes, Pat Benatar, Donna Summer, The Beach Boys and more.
The L.A. County Fair is located at 1101 W. McKinley Ave, Pomona, 91768. It runs through Oct. 4. Admission: adults – $13 weekdays, $17 weekends. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Live thoroughbred racing through Sept. 28. For information, visit lacountyfair.com.