Bowling at the Orange County Fair

by Bob Johnson 0

It’s not uncommon for bowling proprietor organizations or even individual center owners to set up portable bowling lanes or stub lanes at fairs, festivals, swap meets and other public events.

It has become less common in recent years, however, because of the contraction of the bowling industry and the expense involved.

A toy truck with a Flintstones bowling theme can be seen at the Orange County Fair in California.
A toy truck with a Flintstones bowling theme can be seen at the Orange County Fair in California.

Orange County, California, has been one of the hardest hit areas when it comes to bowling center closures. There, ever escalating land values have left precious few centers still in business.

Even so, bowling has had a presence of sorts at the 2014 Orange County Fair, which will complete its month-long run this Sunday.

No, neither full-length nor stub lanes were set up there. But among the plethora of business booths and in the visual arts gallery, one could “experience” bowling — if they kept their eyes open.

For example, amidst the long rows of products, ranging from kitchen gadgets to high-end Jacuzzis, there was a vendor selling toy cars and trucks of various types, styles and themes — including one featuring characters from “The Flintstones” animated series at Bedrock Bowl.

The aptly titled "Fruit Bowl" demonstrated bowling's continuing presence in popular culture.
The aptly titled “Fruit Bowl” demonstrated bowling’s continuing presence in popular culture.

And then there was a unique piece of artwork by Steven Porter titled, “Fruit Bowl.” Take a close look at the accompanying photo, and you’ll see that the title is absolutely appropriate. The asking price for the piece was $500.

Despite our sport’s declining participation numbers, bowling maintains a presence in popular culture. Sometimes, you just have to look for it.

– – – – –

P.S.: Congratulations to Christy Asher for winning an Orange County Fair gold medal for her kumquat jam. Asher is one of the O.C.’s top bowlers and the wife of PBA Hall of Famer Barry Asher.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.