For over 70 years, the National City Host Lions Club and the town of National City have co-sponsored a fun event for area residents on the 4th of July. Their annual Fourth of July Carnival at the town’s Kimball Park ran June 29 through July 4th this year, with games, rides, and fun food for sale by local nonprofits.
With live music acts and contests such as the Miss National City Pageant there was plenty of fun for everyone, culminating with a fireworks display on the 4th of July.
Attendance ranged between 40,000 and 50,000 guests, with the largest crowds showing up on the 4th. Brian Clapper, past National City Host Lions Club president says that “All the money raised from the event goes back into the community to support local sports and programs.”
At the carnival, classic games and rides are the order of the day. Small kids and families flocked to traditional games such as the water race, ring toss, and balloon pop games; of the rides, the most popular were the Ferris Wheel, Merry-go-Round, Hi-Striker and Tilt-A-Whirl.
Food was also a big focus at the fair: cotton candy and kettle corn were big hits, and 40-year fair veteran Order of the Eastern Star’s corn on the cob with toppings such as butter, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, and hot sauce sold well – for just $3. The stand goes through an average of 1500 ears of corn at the event.
According to Frank Parra, a member of the National City Host Lions Club, the fireworks extravaganza that was held as a finale on the 4th was the area’s only inland-San Diego fireworks display. “National City’s annual carnival is the perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday,” he noted.
This year, the Fourth of July Carnival also marked the start of the city’s 125th Anniversary celebration. National City is the second oldest city in San Diego County.
On Saturday evening June 30th, as a part of the fair, the Miss National City Scholarship Pageant took place on the Kimball Bowl stage. The winner and her court represent National City in various civic events throughout the year; and the winner - this year, Destiny Munoz – is eligible for a scholarship at the end of her reign. Participants ages 17 to 24 were focused on the educational aspect of winning the contest and had to live in National City to participate.
Admission to the pageant and to the entire carnival was free; the event also offered $20, Pay-One-Price Ride Days on Friday, Monday and Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. In addition to this discount, coupons for $4 off the one-price cost were available at the National City chamber of commerce offices, recreation centers and library. Carnival rides and games were provided by Christiansen Amusements. Attendees also danced and sang along at a 50s-style rock, rockabilly, and swing concert helmed by San Diego-area favorites, The Bobby Sanchez Combo.
The event is promoted on social media, through the Lions Club, on posters in stores, and local print media.
In the community of Alpine, also in San Diego County, another old-fashioned carnival and fair helped residents celebrate the 4th of July. This event was also sponsored by a pairing of the city and a benevolent association. The Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce and the Alpine Community Center both teamed up with the Kiwanis Club of Alpine, for a small but well-attended event. Following a morning parade through town – including a wolf riding a motorcycle and costumed goats – the festival took off at the Alpine Community Center Park. “Bands, children’s games, a small carnival, dunk tank, and food vendors” were all a part of the mix, according to past Kiwanis president Pene Manale, who coordinated the event for the club. Festival fun highlights included a dunk tank, bounce house, and of course, cotton candy and popcorn. A deep pit BBQ served up popular ribs. More than 1,000 residents attended the 2018 event, indicating rising attendance for this local celebration.
And over the weekend just after the 4th, Sonora County kept celebrating with the Mother Lode Fair running July 5 through 8. Gate admission was $10 for adults, $5 for kids, and $8 for seniors, with veterans free on Friday. Paul Mauer Shows presented the carnival, which offered $25 wristbands for a day of rides at the event. Rides included the ever-popular Giant Wheel, the fast moving Silver Streak, and a long and bouncy Fun Slide. A special bargain greeted fair goers on opening day. Thursday, from 5 p.m. to midnight, Black Oak Casino sponsored $1 ride day. The fair expanded days from 3 to 4 this year, and focused on late afternoon and evening hours due to hot weather, which had affected attendance in 2017. The fair opened at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and ran until midnight all days except Sunday, when the fair closed at 11 p.m.
Ken Alstott, CEO of the Mother Lode Fair relates “We listened to the public and they wanted the fair to run for four days, during the afternoon and evening hours.”
Livestock events were among the most popular, with both junior and large animal events raising nearly $500,000, substantially more money than in 2017. Attendance also rose over 2017, although gate figures are not yet available. Alstott said the fair highlighted locally created exhibit items such as quilts, jams, and crafts, as well as regional agriculture. Entertainment such as miniature pot-bellied pig races and the truck and tractor pulls Saturday and Sunday evening drew a strong crowd. Also popular: musical acts such as the Eagles Tribute Band Life in the Fast Lane, and Redwood Black’s lively country/rock/soul sounds.
Carnival food was also a big hit, with some unique treats like deep-fried avocados and pickles, as well as hot dogs on a stick, and churros. The more traditional funnel cakes, Kettle Corn in a variety of different flavors, and corn dogs were also top sellers. Creative Beverage catering offered something new this year, pastries to go with their frappes and smoothies. HillBilly Tea iced tea and lemonade helped keep thirsty fair-goers hydrated.
The Fair, now in its 128th year, began in 1889 as the Tuolumne County Fair & Horse Show.