Contact: Joe Vargo, Perris Public Information Officer
Phone: 951-956-2120
jvargo@cityofperris.org

Perris Prepares for Southern California Fair Centennial

Perris resident Midgie Parker examines 1950s-era photos taken at Southern California Fair, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary from Oct. 5-13 at the Lake Perris Fairgrounds.Perris resident Midgie Parker examines 1950s-era photos taken at Southern California Fair, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary from Oct. 5-13 at the Lake Perris Fairgrounds.

The Southern California Fair near Perris is turning 100 years old in 2013 and event organizers are planning a major effort to celebrate the milestone.

Fair board officials are working with the same group that documented, organized and presented the history of the City of Perris in 2011 as part of its centennial.

 Volunteers from the Perris Valley Historical and Museum Association spent this week reviewing documents and collating material—including photos, programs, newspaper accounts and scrapbooks--for presentation during the Oct. 5-13 Southern California Fair.

The fair’s opening date coincides with the 3rd annual Tour de Perris bicycle ride and many participants will ride past the fairgrounds on Lake Perris Drive as they complete their rides.

Fair CEO Lyndal Graff said the fair hopes to recreate the success the City enjoyed when it created 100 panels tracing the history of Perris from its days as a mining and agricultural hub to the present success it enjoys as a recreational oasis that welcomes continuing commercial, industrial and residential development.

About 15 panels detailing the fair’s legacy and impact on Perris and Riverside County will be part of the display at Harrison Hall on the fairgrounds.

 “The City’s centennial exhibit was absolutely outstanding—complete, comprehensive and easy to understand,” Graff said. “We’ve got a good story to tell as well and we expect the upcoming to help us tell it.”

Graff said the Southern California Fair is “a country fair and we wear that suit proudly.” The2013 fair will award ribbons and other prizes for agricultural exhibits, livestock auctions and a host of other competitions—woodcarving, photography, paintings, table-settings, sewing, knitting  and a collection contest. Collections can include antiques toys, afghans, Barbie dolls, Beanie Babies, farm-related items, insects, jewelry, key chains, miniatures and war memorabilia. Motorsports include monster trucks, demolition derby and stock car racing.

Groups like Rotary, Lions, Optimists, 4-H, FFA, Boy and Girl Scouts, Kiwanis, 4-H clubs, the Future Farmers of America and church –based organizations also will be present. Some activities are set aside for senior citizens. The deadline for entries is Sept. 7. More information is is available at www.socalfair.com or by telephoning 951-657-4221.

Fair officials are organizing a reunion of the Farmers Daughters from previous years. The fair board is lining up an assortment of musical acts, including rock-and-roll, country and Christian performers. , 

Graff said the City of Perris has been a huge supporter of the fair for decades, support he is grateful to receive.

“The City is like our family,” Graff said. “They’ve been a wonderful supporter of this fair.”

That fair dates back to 1913 when the inaugural Riverside County Fair was held at Chemawa Park in Riverside. The fair changed locations and names several times over the succeeding years. From 1918 the Riverside County Fair Board was abolished and replaced with the Southern California Fair Association, which lasted until 1926, when it ceased operations for lack of finances.

The following year, the state created the 46th District Agricultural Association, which became the sponsor of the newly reconstituted Southern California Fair.  In 1931, the Southern California Fair teamed up with the Los Angeles County Fair.
In 1946, the 46th District Agricultural Association sponsored the Farmers Fair & Festival. That event took place every year in Hemet until 1987, when it moved to the 108-site on Lake Perris Drive that borders the Lake Perris State Recreation Area.

Judy Hofmann-Wade and Katie Keyes, who are helping compile the history of the Southern California Fair, discuss a newspaper account of a turkey show when the fair was held in Hemet. The Southern California Fair moved to Perris in 1987.Judy Hofmann-Wade and Katie Keyes, who are helping compile the history of the Southern California Fair, discuss a newspaper account of a turkey show when the fair was held in Hemet. The Southern California Fair moved to Perris in 1987.

On a recent morning, Perris Valley history lovers Katie Keyes, Midgie Parker, Judy Hofmann-Wade and Betty Jo Dunham sifted through decades of fair programs, pictures, plaques and other memorabilia—the first step to organizing the information that will become part of the upcoming exhibit. Their preliminary research uncovered news accounts from the 1940s, photos from the 1950s and programs from more recent years.

“It’s important to keep the history of events so people know what went on before they were born,” Keyes said. “This is the only large fair we have in Riverside County, and it is for all of Riverside County.”

Parker noted that thousands of Riverside County residents have participated in the fair in one way or another over the last century.

“It’s nice to be honoring all that participation over all those years,” she said.

Perris Mayor Daryl Busch said he has many fond memories of the Southern California Fair. The Mayor participates each year in the livestock auction and has also volunteered as a chauffeur, driving entertainers to and from the fair. In that capacity, he’s met members of the Beach Boys as well as Howie Mandel.

“The Southern California Fair has been a part of our community for a long time and we are glad it is,” Busch said. “I encourage everyone to come out and visit the displays and activities. It is well worth the time. It’s a great community activity that is available to lots and lots of people.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Yarbrough volunteers at the Perris Optimists booth. He also supports motorsports activities at the fair.
“There is nothing better than a hometown fair,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than walking down the midway with friends and family, getting a funnel cake and watching the turkey races!”