By Ray Hamill — One of the oldest and most enduring sporting traditions on the North Coast returns to Ferndale this weekend with the opening of the 122nd Humboldt County Fair Races.
Over the next week and a half, the fair will feature seven days of racing action, taking center stage on the Northern California summer fair circuit.
And for some, the races are like stepping back in time.
“For me, it’s basically like turning the clock back 80-to-100 years, to the way racing used to be,” said Ellis Davis, who has served as the track publicist at Ferndale for the past 35 years. “You get great support from the community, and it’s a wonderful place to race.”
It’s certainly one of the most popular stopovers on the circuit, with crowds from throughout the entire county (and beyond) traveling to the fair, and, in particular, the horse races.
This year’s festival will feature a pair of big thoroughbred races, including the 65th running of the Humboldt County Marathon on the second Saturday of action.
The race has a $20,000 purse and will be a mile and 5/8s, the longest stake race on the NorCal summer fair circuit.
Spicing things up on the opening weekend of action, meanwhile, will be the Last Mademoiselle Stakes on Saturday to decide the philly and mare champion for the meet.
Leading the way among the jockeys, riding champion Hugo Herrera will be back to defend the title he has claimed in four of the past five years.
And likewise with trainer champion, Quinn Howey, who also has been victorious in four of the past five fairs.
The fair will feature horse races today, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as next weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The action gets under way today at 2:15 p.m.