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Local News

Swashbuckling Carnival Fun Comes to Santa Barbara Fair and Expo

Pirate-themed fair features local food vendors, pig racing, an array of spinning rides, family entertainment, and more

Youngsters enjoy a spin Friday on a carnival ride at the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo.
Youngsters enjoy a spin Friday on a carnival ride at the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
Performers on a unicycle entertain attendees to the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo. Click to view larger
Performers on a unicycle entertain attendees to the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Pirates have commandeered the Earl Warren Showgrounds this weekend for the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo.

The event, which runs through Sunday, is celebrating its 27th rendition, with the showgrounds being transformed into a family friendly pirate island.

Towering over visitors was a dizzying array of rides, including seemingly every possible type of spinning and swinging attraction, a carousel, and the iconic, nearly 100-foot Ferris wheel.

At the petting zoo, kids could ride around on a pony and check out chickens, goats, cattle, and alpacas.

Each day of the fair includes races featuring All-Alaskan Racing Pigs competing over both flat tracks and high hurdles.

The exhibit building has been redubbed the Pirate’s Cove, and showcases arts and crafts work by the community. Purple ribbons were tacked onto award-winning paintings, photographs, and children’s Lego pirate ship models.

At Warren Hall, which is currently Treasure Island, attendees can practice their scrapbooking and painting amid white-, purple-, red-, and gold-ribboned photos and arts-and-crafts items showcased in booths along the walls.

Each day also hosts its own cooking contest that visitors can enter, and visitors can learn how to spin wool, milk a cow, and fit a sheep — the process of training it and dolling it up for a show or competition.

“Last year at the end, we said, ‘You know, it might be a nice year for a pirate theme,'” said showgrounds CEO Scott Grieve. “And a lot of times, it might just be a matter of what we can decorate and how we can carry a theme out.”

Warren Hall, which is currently Treasure Island, attendees can practice their scrapbooking and painting. Click to view larger
Warren Hall, which is currently Treasure Island, attendees can practice their scrapbooking and painting. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

“We’re fairly well known in the fair business for really getting into a theme. A lot of them come up with a theme and then it’s on the poster and that’s it — you don’t see it anywhere. But with us, you get the pirates all over the place.”

Indeed, many of the fairgrounds workers sported skull-and-cross-bones bandanas, and a few toted parrots.

The fair and expo continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The carnival itself closes these nights at midnight and 10 p.m., respectively.​

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

This year’s Santa Barbara Fair and Expo feaures a dizzying array of rides, including seemingly every possible type of spinning and swinging attraction, a carousel, and the iconic, nearly 100-foot Ferris wheel. Click to view larger
This year’s Santa Barbara Fair and Expo feaures a dizzying array of rides, including seemingly every possible type of spinning and swinging attraction, a carousel, and the iconic, nearly 100-foot Ferris wheel. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
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