You may have seen the television commercials where disembodied heads be-bop goofily to a trippy tune. A chin-whiskered Gen-Y guy, a grinning, middle-aged dad. Around them dance skateboards, monster trucks, exotic cats and other images from the Nevada State Fair 2000.
The message of these commercials is clear: The state fair, which begins today and runs through Sunday at the Reno Livestock Events Center, is hip, groovy, inclusive, not just a place to eat corn dogs or pet lowing farm animals. This ain't Pat Boone's state fair, or at least not entirely.
"As people who've attended the fair recently can attest, this is more than just Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds," said fair Chief Executive Officer Gary Lubra.
Specialty attractions at this year's event include an extreme skateboarding competition, the crunch of a destruction derby, an endangered big cat show and, for the herpetophiles among us, "Brad's House of Reptiles."
Traditional attractions, the backbone of any fair, abound as well. There will be livestock shows and auctions, craft demonstrations and cook-offs and familiar rides such as the "tilt-a-whirl," the "yo-yo" and, for small children, bumper cars and a mini roller coaster.
Those craving a bigger adrenaline rush can hop aboard the "super loop," a train of cars that circles a track at high speed and eventually pauses upside down.
Aerial acrobatics will also be displayed at the skateboarding demonstration and competition sponsored by Excell Skates. The tricks and moves start today at 4 p.m. The fee for all competitions is $5, which includes entry into the fair.
The thrills continue Friday at 7 p.m. when drivers literally go head on in the destruction derby, attempting to demolish opposing vehicles and grab their share of $2,500 in prize money. Entry forms and rules are available at the Nevada State Fair office at 1350-A Wells St.
The derby is a form of controlled danger, as is the "Exotic Endangered Cats of the World Show," which runs each day of the fair. Using only a small riding crop and voice commands, trainers Yaro and Barbara Hoffman will channel the coiled intensity of leopards, panthers and Siberian tigers in several wild animal routines.
Domesticated animals get their chance to shine during the fair's youth livestock program events, where they and their owners will be judged on showmanship, quality and breeding. The program is designed to teach children about responsible livestock production.
"It's a great hands-on learning opportunity for the students and the public," program adviser Sarah Chvilicek said. "The kids also raise awareness of the consumption circle and the important role of ranchers and farmers in feeding America."
The youths are mostly members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America and have raised these animals to be sold to registered bidders at the Silver Dollar Youth Livestock Sale Saturday at 4 p.m. Winning bidders can donate the animal to charity, put it up for resale or process it for their own use.
Folks who like to see their food a little further from the hoof or feather can enjoy the daily cooking contests and features in the exhibit hall. There will be cookie and muffin bake-offs, presentations on favorite pies and pasta sauces and, for the culinarily stout-hearted, a best Spam recipe demonstration.
Fair officials say the event "promises something for everyone." To get the inside line on what interests you, call 688-5767.