How is the economy in Sonoma County?

Friday night Tom and I went to the Sonoma County Fair and attended the Youth Livestock Auction.  Our first observation was that there were many regular vendors that we just could not find.  For many years we had stopped at the Tuff Shed display and looked into the cost and discount that was available for Fair attendees.  We could not find them this year.  There wasn’t even an unmanned display.  No Tuff Shed booth means no discount for us and we thought that this might be the year to get a shed and close out or storage unit where we store Christmas decorations and staging materials.  The busiest booth was the Clover Dairy booth that was giving away ice cream cones.  Few people were buying.  Next on our agenda was the dinner for the Youth Livestock Auction.  This dinner is a thank you to the previous year’s buyers and bidders.  Last year we purchased a lamb.  Previous years we have purchased either a lamb, steer or hog – sometimes we bought two animals – so we are invited and we take our daughter and her husband so that they too can enjoy the experience of the fair.  This is always our favorite part of the Fair.  There is a great meal of steak, baked beens and Ceasar Salad topped of with cheesecake.  Wine flows freely and a good time is had by all.  The tables have historically been topped with promotional gifts from local businesses that prove to be useful throughout the year.  This year there was no check-in table.  There was nothing on the tables but the plastic table clothes.  Less than half of the people that usually attend were there.  There was plenty of tritip but the kids serving the pre-dinner sausage were clear that filling everyone up with sausage was part of the plan.  It was less than usual all the way around.  The auction was painful.  The bidders’ arena was less than a third full.  The grand champion went for $7.50 a pound and the next champion went for $2.50 a pound.  These are very low numbers.  While the Press Democrat stated that the tears were for the loss of the animal, I can assure you there were tears for the lack of income.  Many of these teens look to the profits on their steers to bolster their college funds or buy a car.  They love these animals while they are raising them but after the first year, they know that this is a business proposition.   There were no smiles amongst the students and their parents who have seen the hard work that they put in all year.  It was a sobering event.

The economic news in the papers is on the upside.  Thankfully, houses are beginning to sell more quickly.  The unemployment numbers are going down but that could be people giving up on looking.  The stock market is recovering but we all know how fickle the market it. 

I am a bottom line kind of person and looking around the Fair, economic recovery is still in the future.

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