Hear That Buzz at the Solano County Fair?

Hear that buzz?

Honey bees own the flower beds at the Solano County Fair, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo.

But bees and other insects claim the exhibit halls, as well. They're depicted on everything from quilts and photos to graphic arts displayed in McCormack Hall.

Indeed, pollinators are an integral part of the exhibits at the 70th annual Solano County Fair, which opens Thursday, June 27 and continues through Sunday, June 30. The annual family-based fair aims to inform, educate and entertain.

Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall, and a community leader with the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, called attention to the colorful bees framing a 9-patch maple leaf quilt showcased in the adult division. It is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo.

And some of the youth entries?

  • Jessie Means of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, entered a close-up photo of a honey bee.
  • Maya Prunty of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club submitted a photo of a caterpillar.
  • Alana Boman of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club sketched a moth. 
  • Madeline Giron of Benicia drew a bee.

But a photo of a striking blue and black butterfly, entered by youth exhibitor Trinity Roach of the Dixon Grange, drew "oohs" and "aahs" and "What is it?" during the judging and display set-up.

Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, identified it as Parthenos sylvia ssp. lilacinus from Southeast Asia. "Its English name," he said, "is the Blue Clipper."

Locally, you can see Blue Clipper specimens in the Bohart Museum of Entomology in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis. "We have 11 specimens of this subspecies and specimens of 4 other subspecies of Parthenos sylvia, as well as specimens of two other species in the genus," said entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of  Lepidoptera at the Bohart. He describes the butterfly as "beautiful with a strong wingbeat."  Smith remembers collecting one in Thailand when he was serving with the U.S. Air Force.

Gonzalez said some of the items entered in the fair are tagged for the silent auction; the highest bidder takes the entry home.

Admission to the Solano County Fair is free all four days. Parking is free the first day only. Gates are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and from noon to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday. See more information on the website.

Cheers to 70 years!  And cheers to the exhibitors who picked pollinators!