Long Beach may not be its own county, but that hasn’t stopped the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA) from organizing the Long Beach County Fair this Friday, April 1 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

“It’s our normal art walk event, but we theme it Long Beach County Fair,” said BKBIA project manager Myra Pimentel. “Obviously, Long Beach is not a county, but it’s just a tongue-in-cheek, funny thing we like to do.”

BKBIA has hosted its county fair since 2017 in partnership with Long Beach Fresh. Residents in attendance can ride the Big Red Bus to traverse the fair — which spans either side of Atlantic Avenue from Liberation Brewing to the south up to the EXPO Arts Center in the north.

Taking place during BKBIA’s regularly-scheduled First Fridays, businesses along Atlantic Avenue have leaned into the county fair theme.

Cheese Addiction will hold two spaghetti eating contests with “cheesy prizes” —one at 6 pm for kids ($ 2.50) and two open to all ages at 7 pm and 7:45 pm ($ 3).

Semillitas Learning Community will host a “peep show” —a display of the chicks the children at the center have been hatching as part of their enrichment program — for 15-minute intervals at 5, 6 and 7 pm

Wood & Salt Tavern will be serving up deep-fried Oreo sundaes and their sister location Rasselbock Kitchen will have corn on the grill with jalapeno aioli, cotija cheese and chili powder. Lola’s Mexican Cuisine will offer bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

Better Half Boutique will have two Easter bunny mascots available for photos (6 pm to 8 pm) and Salon Medusa will offer free colored hair spray painting.

Live music “from swing, to jazz, to rock n roll to bluegrass” will be played along the corridor, Pimentel said.

The Long Beach County Fair will feature musicians like the band featured above at a previous county fair. (Image Courtesy Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association)

Attendees are encouraged to start the fair at the EXPO Arts Center, where a variety of vendors and information booths will be camped outside in the “Fair Square” —including Sweet Grass Sugarcane Juice, the African American Cultural Center, Romeo’s Chocolates and Long Beach Flowers .

The center will also host Long Beach Fresh’s Blue Ribbon Harvest competition.

Backyard gardeners and growers can drop off their home-grown fruits, vegetables, lettuces / greens, bouquets and mushrooms between 5 pm and 6:30 pm for their chance to take home a blue ribbon.

“I’ve already heard there’s gonna be a loofah, and there’s going to be a really prize-winning avocado with guac for the judges to taste,” said Ryan Smolar of Long Beach Fresh. “So the competition is heating up.”

Long Beach Fresh has also partnered with the Historical Society of Long Beach to do an exhibit on the history of farming and gardening in Long Beach, including the story of an ostrich farm that grabbed “cheeky” headlines in its day.

“With every food we eat, there’s a history lesson, an economic reality, immigrant stories, all cultural things,” Smolar said. “[…] But it sometimes isn’t as obvious or apparent. It needs a front door for a lot of people to get more familiar with the diversity of food that’s grown, shared, cooked and celebrated in our town. “

Atlantic Avenue will remain open as a thoroughfare during the event. Pimentel emphasized that there will be no carnival rides present at the event. Street parking will be available, as well as limited parking near Liberation Brewing and the EXPO Arts Center.

For a full list of activities and vendors at the event, visit https://bixbyknollsinfo.com/events/first-fridays/ or follow the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association on Instagram @bixbyknolls.

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