The passengers seated at the bottom of the Pharaoh’s Fury carnival ride screamed and shrieked with either fear or excitement as the giant pendulum whooshed back and forth.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!” cried a chorus of voices as the “boat” swung up into a 54-foot arc — and then plunged back down again.
Pharaoh’s Fury — topped with a hieroglyphic eye and decorated with golden sphinx heads on either end — is one of the many attractions grabbing the attention and wallets of visitors to Napa’s annual Town & Country Fair.
The fair, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday at the Napa Expo, 575 Third St., opens at noon daily.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Napans and visitors arrived at the Expo grounds for a day, or just a few hours, of fun and carnival games.
Brenda Martin of Napa came to the fair with family visiting from Lake Tahoe. “We’re going to start at the end and work our way back,” she said.
She’s been a regular fairgoer for some 40 years, said Martin. This year her young grandson accompanied her. “He’ll like the animals” for sure, she predicted.
“We love the fair,” said Eileen Scranton of Napa. She and her companion live nearby and bought four day tickets so they could come and go as they like. “We do everything, bit by bit,” said Scranton. That included watching Circus Imagination, which performs daily. On Wednesday night they planned to see the Righteous Brothers perform. Besides that, “we always go on the Ferris wheel.”
Rhonda Gardner and her daughter Amelia said it’s a tradition to go to the fair every summer. “We wouldn’t miss it.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the two visited inside a butterfly sanctuary near the entrance of the Expo. Her daughter held butterflies as Gardner took her photo.
“I’m really happy this is here. This is amazing,” she said. The hands-on exhibit features more than 200 butterflies including Monarch, Painted Lady, Julius and Swallow Tail species, said a staffer.
Harla Scaduto of Yountville came to the Expo on Wednesday specifically to see her niece show her pigs but stayed to visit some of the exhibits along the way.
That included a visit to Chardonnay Hall where a space-themed interactive and educational exhibit has been installed.
She’s been to the Napa fair before, “but this is new to me,” Scaduto said of the space exhibits. “You don’t see this at every fair.” In tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, this year’s fair was themed “Reach for the Mooooon!”
Susan Ribardiere of Napa entered six quilts for judging at the Napa Fair and to her delight, she received five ribbons. A Harry Potter quilt by Ribardiere received a second place ribbon and a “Hocus Pocus” movie-themed quilt received a third place ribbon.
“I’m just so proud,” said Ribardiere, who is actually a beginning quilter.
Napa Valley resident Zuzu Bin Yunus, age 7, said the fair is “pretty awesome.”
What’s so awesome? “Amazing rides and prizes and a house of mirrors and candy,” she rattled off. One thing she was especially interested in was something she described as a “hamster ride on water.”
In that attraction, participants crawl inside a clear plastic ball — like a hamster — and roll around on top of the water in an inflatable pool.
Melanie Casas of American Canyon watched as her two children, ages 6 and 7, spun around inside the “hamster” balls on water. “As long as they’re happy,” she’s happy, said Casas.
She likes to come to the fair because “we run into people we know and you get to see people you wouldn’t necessarily see on a daily basis.”
“The fair is one of my favorite weeks of the year,” said Bella Bañuelos, age 17.
Bañuelos, a 4-Leaf Clover 4-H member, was helping staff the JLAC Country Store inside Zinfandel Hall. She’d made peanut brittle and chocolate chip cookies to sell.
“I really like to bake,” said Bañuelos.
Working at the Country Store is fun “because everything is made by kids and it’s a good way for the 4-H clubs to get together.” Funds raised go directly back to the kids, she noted.
Kay Creaves, also working at the Country Store, said she loves the fair “because it brings the community together.” The store is a great way for kids to meet each other “and learn customer service,” she added.
4-H members Kaydence Cantrell, age 9, and her friend Isabella Jimenez, set up an impromptu table along the main fairway selling woven rubber bracelets that they had made.
“Something good about the fair is that you get to make new friends and you can also sell stuff” like their bracelets, said Cantrell.
“I like how everyone enjoys the rides and the food and prizes,” said Jimenez. Making a few extra dollars is OK too.