SAN MATEO — Children will have a chance to feed butterflies with nectar-dipped sticks over the next eight days at the San Mateo County Fair, as the Bay Area’s summer festival season kicks into gear.

Butterfly Adventure is one of the new attractions at the fair, which begins Saturday and runs through June 14. The yearly event will also feature plenty of traditional favorites — such as pig races, carnival rides, funnel cake, livestock, and a variety of exhibits and contests — along with performances from Tower of Power, Sheila E. and the Charlie Daniels Band, among others.

The San Mateo County Fair is one of the first of the summer season. The Alameda County Fair begins June 17, and the Santa Clara County Fair opens July 30.

Crews from Butler Amusement wipe down a roller coaster being built at the San Mateo County Fair on June 4, 2015, at the San Mateo County Events Center in

Peter Noah, 61, is president and “chief butterfly wrangler” for Butterfly Adventure. He drove his portable, 1,600-square-foot enclosure to the Peninsula from Vancouver, Washington, with a flatbed pickup and a trailer.

The immersive exhibit will include more than 1,000 mature butterflies, including painted ladies and monarchs, as well as butterfly pupae and caterpillars.

One goal of Butterfly Adventure is to encourage people to create butterfly gardens — or “way stations,” as Noah puts it — to help monarchs on their annual southern migration. Monarch populations have undergone a steep decline over the past two decades.

Milkweed is particularly important — monarchs lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars feed on it. Marigolds and zinnia are both good plants for nectar, Noah said.

“Anytime you can give them a place where they can stop and feed,” said Noah, “that’s going to be a very good thing.”

With warm, sunny weather in the forecast, fair organizers are hoping to beat last year’s attendance of slightly more than 128,000, which was up from roughly 120,000 in 2013.

One highlight for baseball fans will be a visit from the San Francisco Giants’ latest World Series trophy. From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, fans may pose for a free photo with the trophy and Tito Fuentes, who played infield for the club in the 1960s and 1970s.

There will be a concert each night of the fair. Admission for most spots in the Event Center’s roughly 2,200-seat venue is free with a fair ticket. Reserved seating for some concerts is $30.

Country legend Charlie Daniels is returning to the fair for the first time in three years. His set will include crowd-pleasers like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and a couple Bob Dylan tunes off Daniels’ 2014 album of Dylan covers.

Daniels, still touring regularly at the age of 78, said his band will play about 100 dates this year. In a phone interview Friday, he said he intends to keep playing and touring so long as he’s healthy.

“I can’t imagine anything I’d want to retire for. I don’t want to play that much golf or do that much fishing or anything else,” Daniels said. “I’d much rather be doing what I’m doing. It’s my chosen profession and I do work hard at it, but it’s also recreational for me, because it’s what I enjoy.”

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at

Peter Noah carries milkweed and marigolds into his Butterfly Adventures exhibit being set up for the San Mateo County Fair on June 4, 2015, at the San

If you go

What: San Mateo County Fair
Where: San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo
When: June 6-14 (visit for hours)
How much: $10 for adults ($20 for multiday pass), $8 for seniors and children ages 6-12 ($18 for multiday pass); parking is $10 a day
Tickets: Available at the gate, or visit and search for “San Mateo County Fair”
More information: Visit

Musical acts

June 6: Jefferson Starship
June 7: Tony! Toni! Toné!
June 8: The Long Run (The Eagles tribute band)
June 9: Tower of Power
June 10: Tower of Power
June 11: The Charlie Daniels Band
June 12: Hollywood Stones (Rolling Stones tribute)
June 13: Sheila E.
June 14: Dia de la Fiera