The Alameda County Fair: Food and Fun


The view from the top of the Ferris Wheel shows the entire, illuminated fair. The crowd was bustling with excitement from the plentiful food and fun games.

The Alameda County Fair, which was held in Pleasanton, California from October 22 to 31, returned with a fun, neon theme. The 10-day, food and play-filled event amassed hundreds of visitors on just the second day.

     Stepping through the massive glowing archway located at the entrance of the fair and seeing what the night was going to consist of was an experience in itself. Upon entering, long lines stretching far enough to reach the other side of the fair could be seen. These lines were for the food: corn dogs, burgers, curly fries and much more. With enormous signs and billboards showcasing what was available to eat, everyone was bound to get hungry and enter those queues eager to feast.

     After waiting for ages in the line, it was finally time to order. Surprisingly, the corn dog booth’s prices induced rationalization: a regular sized corn dog for $8, a medium sized for $12, and what was called a “monster dog” for $16. The “monster dog” was three times the size of the regular corn dog and only twice the price; the optimal choice was obvious.

     Along with the enormous corn dog, there were “bricks” of curly fries crisped to perfection, which were $16 as well.

     “They didn’t accept cash, so we had to find an atm machine, collectively put our money in, and obtain a visa card,” freshman Sophia Wright said. “However, the service taxed us 5%.”

     The dinner that totaled to $32 and attempted to fill four people was unsatisfactory. The corn dog’s “wow-factor” was its enormous size and not its flavor. Too much attention was spent on the structural integrity of the corn dog, rather than the taste.

     The next step in achieving the perfect county fair experience was buying sweets. The fair had a vast variety: gelato, milkshakes, funnel cakes, candy apples, cotton candy, churros, soft serve, Dole Whip, and more. The selection of desserts at the fair made up for the disappointing corn dogs.

     After some time and digestion, it was the time to go on rides and play some games. There were ticket machines set up around the fair that would take $1 in exchange for one ticket. Those tickets were stored on a card (similar to a debit) that each game or ride vendor could scan.

     “There were deals like 25 tickets for $23, unlike the visa cards where it stored the exact amount of money we put in,” Wright said.

     The Ferris wheel was the biggest and brightest attraction at the fair. Waiting in its line took little time as the size of the Ferris wheel took many people on at once. Each passenger car could comfortably fit four people with space to (safely) move about.

     The peak height of the Ferris Wheel allowed the passengers to view the entire fair from above. The spectacular, flashing lights and huge, neon signs were a sight to see. The game and ride section of the fair was wholly illuminated which created a fun and aesthetic environment, as if out of a 50’s movie.

     “I loved the Ferris Wheel—best part—because we saw hot guys,” Wright said. “It was really pretty from the top and seeing the whole fair because it was misty from the rain.”

     The night ended with a stroll through the game booths, but not quite playing any. The classic tradition of stuffed animal prizes for winning a game was still alive, but surprisingly one unique booth gifted live fish.

     By the last fifteen minutes of the fair, around 9:45 PM, most people started to leave and vendors began closing down their booths, some discounting products at half-off or even completely free of charge.

     The night couldn’t be full of anything except laughter, smiles, and fun, even if the “monster corn dog” was unsatisfactory.

     “It was an eye-opening experience of American culture at its finest,” Wright, a native British, said.