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Luis Torres got to try a mechanical bull at the Ventura County Fair. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, August 15, 2019

By Chris Frost


Ventura-- The 2019 Ventura County Fair is in the books, and the event was an excellent time for anyone looking for almost anything.


The fair featured rides, lots of good food, plenty of exhibits to learn from, farm animals, and great rock bands like Styx, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and county artist Martina McBride.  


Permilla Carpenter took advantage of the slide with family members at the midway and said the experience is nerve-wracking.


“It’s high up there,” she said. “It was the first time up there for all of us, but it was fun.”


James Carpenter saw the slide and had to give it a try.


“I do it every year,” he said. “The faster, the better. We were all racing, and I was last.”


David Soto was watching the baby pigs feeding time at Uncle Leo’s Barn.


“They look cool,” he said. “We have cats and dogs at home. I like coming to the fair and hanging out with people who you see in your town.”


Mom Monica Porras wants a little tiny pig and said he’ll be an indoor pig and part of the family.


“We’ve been coming for the last 10 years,” she said. “We drive here.”


Charles Matthew Vanoni is Uncle Leo’s grandson and grew up in the agriculture business.


“I have been coming to the fair since I was one,” he said. “The family gets together and calls people we know with animals and are interested in helping us put on this event. Some of them bring their animals, so we have babies and their mamas.”


That offers youngsters an opportunity to see young animals, he said, which is education.


“The tradition of raising ag-awareness is in our blood,” he said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”


Luis Torres got to try a mechanical bull, and he said it was a lot of excitement.


“It was a fun experience,” he said.


Luis has no plans to become a professional bull rider.


“I wanted to do this,” he said. “I was watching horses, and they were catching cows.”


Guillermo (Junior) Berber III and his sister Sofia had an up-close and personal meeting with a cow named “Stud.”


“We’re killing some time before Sofia does her Mutton busting,” Mom Vitoria said. 


Sofia loves the cows on at the fair.


“They are soft,” she said. “I am going to hang on tight and break the world record for Mutton busting today.”


Bob Cook is a member of the Gold Coast Modular Railroad Club and said the group has a passion for HO Gauge.


“We do our own landscaping, model building, painting, and weathering,” he said. “We do the fair and the Train Festival in Filmore.”


He loves meeting the public and watching all the kids.


“At the museum where the main layout is; dads love the cars, and the kids love the trains,” he said. “We’re looking for a new home. We’ve been at the museum for seven years, and they are moving to a smaller area, and we can’t go with them.” 


In the shopping extravaganza exhibit, both political parties were out soliciting support and touting what each group brings to the table.


Ventura County Republican Central Committee Member Mike Judge was out working on behalf of the cause.


“We’re getting people to register for the Republican Party, sell some Trump merchandise, and get people excited about the 2020 election,” Judge said. “We’ve been extremely busy. This is my first day working the booth for the central committee, but from what I’ve heard, the federated groups, and the Women’s Republican Club have been working the whole time the fair has been here. We had to restock our hats again last night.”


Most times, people stop by to say, “Trump is our guy,” but others stop and say that the name-calling in politics has gotten out of hand.


“This is the right cause for our country,” he said. “Keeping our government small and keeping capitalism going is the best thing.  Our economy is booming right now. Everything is going good for the country, and I want to keep it that way.”


He sees another four years of prosperity on the horizon.


“I believe that once President Trump is re-elected, the Chinese will come to the table and make a deal,” Judge said. “They’re waiting right now to see what happens. They’re hedging their bets because they are a dictatorship and don’t have to worry about running for office.”


Ventura County Democratic Club Secretary Francis Sparagna said he is trying to get as many people to register to vote as possible.


“If people want to stop by and talk politics with us, we’re happy to do that,” he said. “We’re distributing Democratic buttons as much as possible. They can also take a picture with Ruth Vader Ginsberg if they like.”


Eileen MacEnery coordinated the booth and worked it from open until close every day.


“We also have a fun straw poll going of all the candidates,” she said. “We ask people who would you vote for if you voted today. The primary is on March 3rd this year. It’s moved up from June.”


She said the group is enjoying a tremendous response.


“We are going to collate this poll and let everyone know who the winners are,” she said. 


Moving forward, MacEnery said the battle cry is anybody but Trump in 2020.


“Any Democrat in 2020,” MacEnery said. “I say REV it up. Register, get yourself educated, and get yourself involved with the vote.”


Sparagna said a critical moment that he feels the country went off track was when Secretary of Defense James Mattis retired.


“He told everyone that they deserved to have someone that you want,” he said. “Not someone to pal up to people like Vladimir Putin, King Jong Un, and Xi Jinping and alienate our allies like Germany and France.”


Sparagna called the American Foreign Policy, “the worst.”


“If they have a trade war grievance with China, there are other ways to do it,” he said. “They are hurting portions of the economy by doing this.”


At the wood Channel Islands Carving booth, Gary Hensley, AKA Waldo was busy creating masterpieces full of detail for the crowd.  Waldo had an interesting story behind his nickname.


“Back in the mid-1960s when Tony’s Pizzeria used to be on Figueroa between Main and Santa Clara before they closed the street, they had nicknames for all the regulars,” he said. “I worked at the Mobile Station and California and Thompson. They told me I didn’t look like a Gary; I look like a Waldo. The name stuck.”


The group is members of the California Carving Guild, and he is one of the directors.


“We can’t sell in this building, and I don’t sell anything anyway,” he said. “I’ll give it away as a gift, but it means too much to me. I have fun.”


He joined a carving club in Reseda about 25 years ago, but he was only part of the club for a few weeks.  


“I didn’t fit in, and they didn’t want to talk to me, he said. “The older gentleman who taught the club got sick and didn’t come anymore, so I said I’m done with this.”


When he moved to Ventura, his friend talked him into getting back into carving.


“That was nine or 10 years ago,” he said. 


He had one design that he started and finished at the fair, which included intricate work.


“Except for the wood-burning,” he said. “I used a carving knife, a couple of gouges, and a V-tool.”


Anita Hensley was with Gary, and they were celebrating their 51stwedding anniversary at the fair. She mentioned that Gary is legally blind.


“I encourage him to spend money on his hobby,” she said. “When we go to a woodworking show, if there is something he wants, he’ll think about it. Those kinds of things you’ll only see at a woodworking show. If you think you want it, buy it.”


She loves being part of the carvers.


“I take him to carving every Tuesday because he is legally blind and can’t drive,” she said. 


Anita loves the fair.


“I’m judging a contest in a few minutes,” she said. “I walk the floor and talk to all the entries.”

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