Sunday, October 5, 2008

"I don't get out much" - San Benito County Fair & 19th Hole Saloon in Tres Pinos

Yeah, so we went to the San Benito County Fair - as you may have inferred from my earlier post.

It's a Small "Country" type fair (about as "Country" as we get in this area, anyway!).

Now, bear in mind that I am the product of a purely Suburban Upbringing. When I was a kid, the Big Deal every fall was to attend the San Mateo County Fair and Floral Fiesta. And it was fun - don't get me wrong - although I wasn't allowed nearly enough time in the midway! The "Big Draws" at the SMC Fair were the Floral and Garden Displays (which were actually quite nice - but lost on me - in my "surly teenager days"), and Horse Racing (see my earlier musings inspired by Bay Meadows' closing Musings on being Middle Class - although it's only "distantly" related to the subject at-hand...)

Most of our time, however, was spent perusing the Commercial buildings where we'd dutifully watch every demonstration of every new "Household Convenience" (à la Creepy-Vince of ShamWow!). Mom would purchase these gee-gaws every year (and they'd end up stuffed in the hall closet - never to be seen again!).

Interestingly enough - I inherited one of these gee-gaws: A "Streamstress" by Osrow (Who?!!). It's got to be at least thirty years old! Amazingly (or perhaps not!) I just found one on eBay (No clue how long that link will work, but "Oh, well!"). It's basically a plastic hand-held steamer thingie that looks a little like an iron. You fill it with water and a pinch of salt, plug it in, and it produces steam. I Actually Used The Thing on Saturday night (And THAT, my friends, oughtta be a fine example of Just How Exciting my life is!!). It did a fine job of eliminating the fold-creases on my new curtains!

Oops - But I digress!

Anyway, my overall impression of County Fairs is that they're just an avenue for marginal businesses to sell mostly-useless krep........

Over time, I'd gone to bigger County Fairs. Back in the 80's Santa Clara put on a pretty good one, actually. There was still "some" agriculture down here. But the county fair has deteriorated so badly over time, that this year they actually cancelled it outright! Plus it was a little unnerving to observe the Law-Enforcement:Patron Ratio. Ditto the Alameda County Fair!

* * * * *
Years ago, back in the Heyday of Rog 'N Nan's New Millenium Romance, we'd gone "back east" to meet Roger's family and friends in Connecticut. As we were driving thru the pastoral countryside one afternoon, we'd stumbled onto the Goshen County Fair.

Now *that* was a REAL Country Fair!!! It looked like it was set-up in some farmer's pasture! We're talking Pigs and Cows and Chickens and Goats; Home-made pie contests; Quilts; Honest-To-Gawd Local Community (Brass) Bands playing in the central Gazebo; Demonstrations of fancy-decorated draft horses pulling fancy-decorated wagons; Tractor Pulls - the whole nine-yards! Almost NO commercial krep and their midway consisted of, maybe, six rides and about the same # of Lose-Your-Money-For-A-Chance-To-Win-Cheap-Stuffed-Animals booths. It was soooooooo cool!!! It was totally like stepping back-in-time, into a chapter of "Charlotte's Web" (Or maybe a "Hidden Valley Ranch" commercial!) - I kid you not!

I *loved* every minute of it!

So yeah, I have a Soft-Spot in my heart for cheesy, honest-to-gawd "Country" style fairs! And the San Benito County Fair fits the bill.

* * * * *
It's definitely "off-the-beaten-path!" It's 8 miles south of Hollister which - @ appx 50 miles south of San Jose - is also "off-the-beaten path!"

The drive (or Ride, since we frequently take the Harleys) *to* Hollister is pretty dull: Mostly freeway, and an aromatic (stinky!)-staightaway down hwy 25 - past all the hedgerows (where San Jose's 'Green' Waste ends up, ultimately becoming compost). Downtown Hollister is kinda stuck in a Timewarp, and they're in the process of "Quaint-ifying" it. Hollister's okay, but really only *interesting* when the big Motorcycle Rally (Excuse me, Baby-Stroller Rally) is in town (early July).

Once you get past Hollister, the route gets more visually-interesting. Hwy 25 becomes Airline Highway, and the surrounding geography gets really rugged-looking, Wild-West-ish if-ya-know-what-I-mean. It's tucked behind some craggy hills, covered with chaparral; scrub-oak and sage-brush (yet there are a couple-three glaringly green golf courses along the way! Oh, and several de rigeur multi-million-dollar golf-course/retirement communities!). Pretty much, once you're past Hollister, you're on your way to NOWHERE! Ain't nuthin' after Bolado Park (well, except for Pinnacles National Monument which is also a pretty cool destination, if you're into rugged rock-climbing). After that, it's miles-and-miles of nothing - but it'd make a nice "scenic side-route" to Southern Cal if you were lookin' to make a motorcycle trek (the roads - at least *to* Pinnacles - are in very good shape. Can't speak for *past* Pinnacles since I've never ridden there - but traffic is virtually nonexistent, so I can't imagine that the roads have seen much wear 'n tear).........

But I digress (AGAIN!!!)... Okay, back to the fair!

* * * * *
Last year (or was it the year before?) we went and had our "Miller's Margaritaville" sign custom-carved at one of the few commercial booths @ the SBCF. While we were waiting, we wandered over to the bandstand and sat down. We watched the band start setting up - having NO clue who would be playing. Well, the band started playing... They were doing lots of Jefferson Starship tunes and I'd remarked to Rog that "Hey, they sound pretty good!" Rog agreed they were *quite* good for a Cover-Band. "But why all the Starship, I wonder?" "Yeah, well, they sound JUST like 'em!" Well... Sumunabeech!!! It was freakin' Jefferson Starship (with Mickey Thomas). I was, like, stunned and amazed! They put on a very good show - and it was a MUCH bigger 'Act' than one would expect at such a godforsaken location (Kinda-almost sad, if you think about it - but I choose not to!)

We had an AWESOME time!

I think, what I like best, aside from the fact that the Commercial Krep is pretty minimal, is that it's a pretty small place. They have a decent midway and a handful of rides. And they DO have a pretty big arena where they have horse-shows, rodeos, demolition derbies, truck-pulls and mud-racing (we passed on the mud-racing this afternoon!).

But they also have a HUGE area for the 4H & FFA stuff. Lots of pigs, sheep, dairy and beef cattle, goats, etc. I *love* that stuff!!!

We did it "right" this time. We ate lunch BEFORE going to pet the critters. Although lunch was... Well, it was "Fair Food" so expectations weren't exactly high! We had BBQ Tri-Tip Sandwiches that were very chewy (which is about the nicest adjective I can apply to the meal!!). Followed by soft-serve ice-cream-cones for dessert (No chocolate dipped cones - Bummer!!!). Still yummy though! (Yes, I paid for it later!)

My biggest disappointment: NO Fair-Corn!!!! (I guess that just means we need to do ONE more BBQ this year so I can get my Grilled-Corn-Jones sated!)

:::Sigh::: (/Begin Rant) As you've already seen, I was pretty-much disgusted over the "Warning" sign that greeted us as we approached the critter barns. Yeah, I'm sure it's due to some Stupid-@$$ Legal Requirement because of some Stupid-@$$ person(s) who did some Stupid-@$$ thing (probably letting their toddler run wild, scooping up a pile o' poop, eating it, getting a tummyache, and trying to sue the damned fair organizers).

That kinda Stupid-@$$ stuff just IRKS ME to no end!!!! (/End Rant)

I couldn't help but giggle over the fact that Animals were Pooping Freely in our midst! :::gasp:::

Actually, the 4H/FFA kids were ALWAYS right on top of it with rakes and shovels. Practically CATCHING the poop before it even hit the ground!

The place was really, really clean! (I thought!).

...And this is an "Educated Opinion" even! I've HAD critters: Horses, chickens, geese, AND an FFA steer - but that's a story for another time.......

So anyway... Yeah, the fair was fun! No Big-Name Bands this year (actually, it looked like the fair was a lot smaller than the last one we'd attended). But the local "Cover Band" was pretty decent. We killed several hours, wandering around. And, all-told, we only spent about $30 apiece for a day's worth of entertainment! Not bad!

* * * * *
On the way back, we stopped in Tres Pinos and hit the "19th Hole" Saloon. Now THAT'S a VERY cool, VERY old bar. It's a "Must-Stop" if you're ever in the area (however unlikely that may be!). It definitely has an authentic old Western-Saloon Vibe. We'd stopped there, many times in the past, when we were on Motorcycle rides and it's always been a bit of a dive - but a VERY cool dive.

Well, I'm thinkin' they're under new ownership now because - even as we drove past it heading toward the fair - it looked like it had been "cleaned up" a bit. I viewed that as a Very Bad Sign! I know almost-nothing of the history of the place, but it looks like it was built back in the late 1800's or something. It's full of old hunting rifles, and very old photos pasted to the walls, and dead-animal-heads, and an old water-damaged (peeling) ceiling, with hundreds of dollar-bills stuck-up there... TONS of "character," ya-know?

Anyone trying to "update" the place is BOUND to screw it up!

Well, I'm pleased to report that - while it HAS been updated - it's been done VERY WELL! They've definitely held-true to the "history" of the place. And they've expanded it (somewhat) to include a restaurant. Haven't partaken of the food, but I did find another blogger's post about it here: 19th Hole - Tres Pinos, CA (I don't know Melissa, and I don't follow her blog, but she seem quite accurate in her assessment of the place!).

Ooh, here's a news article and more pictures of the place...

And the beers are still cheap ($4.00@ for a draft microbrew), and they had $2.00 margaritas!

The weird/sad thing is: They no longer allow smoking in the bar (of course, it was illegal when they *did* allow it!), and the place was PACKED with patrons - which was just really, really weird!!! Not BAD, mind you - I'm sure it's VERY good for the proprietors! But every time we've wandered in in the past, we've been practically the ONLY people in the joint!

Anyway - they "Done Good" with the update. I'm glad there's still at least ONE good, old dive-bar that's still "intact" in the South-Of-South-Bay Area!


Plascencia Projects said...

I came across a link to your blog through a Twitter Search. It was with your question "why doesn't anyone comment on my blog?" Well, I was interested in your Fair blogs for research reasons...but if I wasn't into that particular article, it was very long:) So don't get down, but people don't have time to read a whole article as long as you write them so they probably never can comment because they don't read much before they move onto something else. Attention span online, especially for blogs, isn't very long. You have to remember it isn't about their life, so they aren't that interested. Thanks for being so descriptive about your day at the Fair, I'm glad to hear others still like the Country Style like myself!

IMQTPI said...

Thanks for your comment! Yeah, I'm pretty verbose at times, I know! (I'm a frustrated writer, at heart!) But I know there are folks out there who enjoy long posts 'cuz I'm one of 'em! ;-)

In fact, of the blogs I try to read daily, the "lengthy posts" are the ones I enjoy the most!

Of course, I agree the majority of folks in cyberspace *do* have short attention spans (I'm also "Guilty As Charged" there, as well. Which is pretty ironic, when you think about it!).

But I'm trying to break-up the "Verbal Diarrhea" with the occasional short blog, as well!

Anyway, I'm glad you read my post (Glad to know anyone's reading my posts, actually!). Even if nobody gets anything out of it (though it'd be nice if someone finds *something* useful!) - it's still kinda fun to "journal" life's events this way....



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