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World's Ugliest Dog Contest Set for Friday at Sonoma-Marin Fair

Mixing agricultural traditions and high-tech fun, Petaluma fair runs through June 24.

The Sonoma-Marin Fair at the Petaluma fairgrounds kicked off June 20 with ticket specials, a great line up of live music and a special exhibit honoring the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. But for animal lovers and those with a quirky curiosity, the main event is Friday as the internationally known  takes place.

This year the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest focuses on adoptable dogs and kicks off with a "red carpet walk" for contestants at 5:50 p.m., with the contest itself at 6 p.m.

“The whole contest is a promotion of the rescue dog effort," said contest organizer Vicki DeArmon. "We have the Dog Lover's Festival kick off the day and we’ll bring in the Sonoma Humane Society with its Rescue Waggin' full of adoptable dogs.” 

Many of the competing dogs are rescue dogs and are a testament to what human intervention and love can do in the life of animals.

“This year our MC is Animal Planet Pet Psychic Sonya Fitzpatrick. For the first time we'll have insight into how the dogs feel about receiving so much attention,” said DeArmon.

The fair runs through Sunday, June 24 with “Family Day,” which includes the Fiesta Latina with the popular Canta con el Alma (or Sing WithYour Soul) Singing Contest.

“Whether you are into art, gardening, wine, cooking or animals, you will find plenty of places to visit, learn and relax at the fair,” said Karen Spencer, a marketing director for the event.

For many fairgoers the first stop is the livestock barns and pens. Pick up a daily schedule, head over to the show rings and watch local kids scoop up nearly $37,000 in prize money for raising beautiful beef and dairy cows, sheep, goats, swine, chickens, rabbits and cavies. If you’ve never seen a petite 4H girl tell a bull who’s boss, you will be amazed by the poise and showmanship exhibited in the rings.

Fair Tip #1: Keep a pair of flip-flops in a tote bag and wear sturdy old shoes to walk through the barns.

The concert series explodes with WAR on Wednesday, Night Ranger of Thursday, Lonestar on Friday and 38 Special on Friday. Sunday’s musical line-up is devoted to Latin music with three muy popular bands: cumbia groups Los Shakas de la Banda, Banda Sangre Azteca and Banda Realengo.

The fair includes a carnival and rides and strolling entertainers. This year, the Golden Gate Bridge Anniversary Exhibit includes a 48-foot replica that leads into the gardens and historic exhibits. Ag-Ventureland allows children to learn how to saddle a horse, milk a pretend cow or goat, and play in a mini field of corn.

Thursday is Seniors’ Day with $5 admission for anyone over 65.

On Saturday it’s “Farmers’ Day” at the fair with a pig scramble, Mutton Bustin’ and a Wild Cow Milking contest. And would it be a fair without a Diaper Derby?  

Fair Tip #2: Bring your toddler's favorite toy to coax them towards the finish line. Concerts are included in the fair’s $15 admission, $10 for juniors and seniors. The Sonoma-Marin Fair’s ticket includes everything you want to see and do at the fair including carnival rides, concerts, exhibits and livestock competitions. 

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