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By Matthew Craggs
an image of a large group, raising their hands into the air with carnival rides visible far away in the backgroundIn preparing for the biggest party of the summer, the California State Fair (July 8–24) has curated creative artists, delicious food and electrifying entertainment from across the Golden State. The only thing left — the secret to any great party — is the guest of honor: YOU.

What makes the California State Fair the best part of summer is up to your imagination. With 17 days of the best of California packed into 350 acres, fairgoers’ options are as diverse as the state and the people the Fair celebrates.

You may want to sip Irish red ales and saisons — award-winners from the California Commercial Beer competition — during the Best of California Brewfest (July 16).

Meet the 8-year-old student who wants to create social media campaigns to improve their community after spending hours poring through STEM projects at the California Student Showcase.

Relive high school and cheer on the home team through the warm, summer nights when Pro Rugby Sacramento take on Pro Rugby Ohio (July 9) and Pro Rugby San Diego (July 23) at Bonney Field.

Collect carnival ride wristbands day after day, until they’re a colorful fashion statement!

Travel the state through the county exhibits, discovering places you’ve yet to visit.

Witness a young dancer’s first-in-a-lifetime onstage performance.

Sample as many gastronomical delights as you can before collapsing on a Footsie Wootsie until the quarters run out.

Get a jump start on holiday shopping with gourmet spice mixes, jewelry and innovative products not yet “As Seen On TV.”

Feel humbled by one-ton cows and towering llamas.

Foster a love of gardening in the next generation with a seedling from the California Forest Center. Plant it with the kids in the backyard, and watch the tree grow almost as fast as they do.

Or, go on a date that can become something more when Oakland’s own The Pointer Sisters (July 20) sing, “I’m so excited. And I just can’t hide it!”

And when you think you’ve seen it all, turn to a friend, ask them for their favorite Fair moment, and then make it the first, new thing you do tomorrow.

Courtsey of The Sacramento News Review