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Monday, February 1, 2010

Cloverdale Comments by Carol Russell

Still In Love With Our “Home Town!”
I am so proud to have witnessed how, by retaining our optimistic, unified, “small town” spirit Cloverdalians have met, and will continue to met, the greatest challenge presented by the worst economy in 80 years.

However tough the times get, whether we’re natives or newcomers, we are overwhelmingly still in love with our “home town!”

You see, there’s a very special blend of past and present here that helps smooth the way into the future no matter what. I call it “Organic Continuity” and it provides our community with stability, resiliency and far-sightedness springing from our self-reliant yet collaborative agrarian, entrepreneurial, and artistic roots mixed together with inherent multi-culturalism and a variety of intergenerational traditions which are, in turn, reinforced by our many volunteer-driven community occasions and legendary annual events.

To give you a sense of what I’m talking about, I’d like to tell you about a few of the latter.
For instance, as I write this, the 35th “Annual Old Time Fiddle Contest And Festival” has just wound down at the Fairgrounds in the heart of town on Citrus Fair Drive. Typically, about 1,500 attendees enjoy two days of expert playing in a variety of age groups and genres along with some very cool impromptu jamming, strolling entertainers, and plenty of good food. For a sample of the 2010 event catch the new Tim Elson video on YouTube. (If this music doesn’t cheer you, better check your pulse.)

Did you know that, for a week in early January, our Fairgrounds also host a world-famous wine tasting founded in 1983 as the “Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition” and known internationally for the last decade, in its expanded regional framework, as the “San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition?” This year, 63 wine fabled experts “tested and evaluated a world-record breaking 4,913 entries, a number that maintains the competition’s status as the largest competition of American wines in the world.” For a great history of this remarkable event see

Now it’s early February so everyone here is either helping getting ready for, or happily anticipating, the 118th Annual “Cloverdale Citrus Fair”, also held at the Fairgrounds, from the 12th through the 15th.

Established in 1892, the Citrus Fair is one of the state’s oldest municipal fairs. Because it takes place each and every President’s Day weekend, Cloverdale always has the honor of being the first fair of the calendar year.

The 2010 theme is a “Salute To the U.S. Military” and we’ll find that focus reflected throughout the many exhibits and fair entries. In addition, we’ll enjoy an old-fashioned, American county fair experience with the “Citrus Fair Queen Pageant” and memorial scholarship award (teen entrants must have a GPA of 3.5 or better!), family entertainment that includes a clown and comedy/musical acts plus favorite carnival rides, games, and that only-at-the-fair food we can never resist along with showcases in both the Tea Room and the Arts and Crafts Building plus fair entries like baked goods, photography and artwork. In short, lots more than I can list here. (Be sure to enter the Raffle! A couple of years ago I won a fabulous quilt by Cloverdale artist Marge Gray. )

Also among “must sees” are those elaborate, three-dimensional exhibits in the main hall. Unique to our Fair, they are created by imaginative competitors using primarily citrus. Consistently imaginative, often lovely, sometimes humorous, they are frequently amazing. And do join us for the “USO-style” Cabaret dinner show at just $40 a ticket!

Fair days/hours: Friday, noon to 10p.m.; Saturday/Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday, 10 a.m. to 5p.m. Ticket prices: free to the “under 5 crowd”; $4 Juniors (6-12); $4 Seniors (62+); $6 General (ages 13 up); $15 General Season Passes; $8 Sr/Jr. Season Passes. Info:

Reading this too late to get to the Citrus Fair? Then plan a visit next year. Meanwhile, watch this column and to see the Events Calendar and discover even more reasons for you to be in love with our home town, too!