Pork out on science, fun and food at San Mateo County Fair 

High tech meets hoedown this weekend when the San Mateo County Fair returns to the San Mateo Event Center.

While early fairs were a way for farmers to showcase agricultural technology, San Mateo County’s fair is evolving beyond its rural roots.

“Because we’re such an urban and tech-oriented community, we add lots of science in with traditional elements,” said Dana Stoerh, event manager for the event center.

For example, the fair features miniature dueling robots operated by remote control, along with a stampede of pigs chasing an Oreo cookie.

“No matter how technically savvy you are, the number one favorite is always the pig races,” Stoerh said.

Visitors to the family-friendly event will encounter petting zoos, trapeze acts, games, composting and gardening stations, and of course, carnival rides for all ages.

This year’s fair also has some new wonders.

Docents will offer tours of a miniature rainforest replete with flora and fauna, and an Alcatraz exhibit will offer a mainland glimpse of the notorious lockup.

Hovering inside the expo hall will be the Airship Victoria, a 50-foot-wide interactive art piece that floats in the air and simulates thunder and lighting using sound, lighting and Tesla coils.

As in previous years, the fair will display thousands of winning submissions for its numerous contests.

Those who missed contest deadlines have a last chance at stardom: the concessionaire Stuffies hamburger eat-off. Contestants are challenged to eat a 6-pound hamburger with a pound of french fries in an hour, a feat that will win them a carnival ride ticket (a digestive break is recommended), a T-shirt, free fair tickets and eternal glory on Stuffies’ wall of fame.

Although it’s one of California’s biggest fairs, San Mateo County’s saw attendance drop from a typical 135,000 to just 100,000 visitors last year. Organizers attribute the decrease to cold weather and a start date that changed from August to June. This year, they expect the numbers to rebound.

The fair costs $1.7 million for the nonprofit San Mateo Event Center to put on, and is supported by $115,000 in funding from the Department of Fairs and Expositions.


The San Francisco Examiner is one of the sponsors of the 77th annual San Mateo County Fair.


San Mateo County Fair

When: June 11-19

Where: San Mateo Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Ave., San Mateo

Tickets: Available at the fairgrounds or visit


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