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Give in to fair nostalgia

POSTED July 15, 2011 10:50 p.m.

The Ferris wheel — an icon of fair fun — is once again making its rounds above Turlock and the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds.

I was lucky enough to get a preview ride on the fair’s tallest carnival thrill on Thursday and the bird’s eye view of the festivities is worth feeling queasy for a few hours. The Ferris wheel is just one of the fair time traditions that feel extra special this year due to the centennial celebration of the Stanislaus County Fair.

Sentimental feelings are unavoidable at this year’s fair, with the Centennial Time Tunnel exhibit and the 4-H Farmyard Experience celebrating 100 years of Stanislaus County agriculture. The Jest in Time circus act also harkens back to an earlier age when slap-stick comedy was all the rage.

Instead of fighting the bouts of nostalgia, I say ‘give in’ and marvel at how things have changed in the past 100 years — and how they haven’t.

There are still cows, pigs, goats and horses filling the barns and showgrounds at the fair. Youth are still putting their hearts and souls into projects they’ve been working on all year just to display at the county fair. And quilt guilds from across the region are preparing to show off their best works, while giving visitors a chance to watch them stitch live and in-person.

The corn dogs are still hot, crunchy and devilishly tasty and the Milk Barn is still the best place to get a cold shake on a hot fair night.

But progress cannot be stopped — even at the county fair. The fair is once again featuring its popular game SCVNGR, a mobile scavenger hunt game that can be played with any mobile device during the 10 days of the fair. Each correct answer will earn points and the person with the most points at the end of the fair will win an iPad and four Disneyland Park Hopper tickets along with a 100-year fair pass.

Of course, the fair also has an official StanCoFair mobile App for an interactive fair experience.

If you told families attending the fair 50 years ago that one day they would spend their time at the fair playing an electronic game on a mobile phone, they would probably laugh you out of town.

Whether you embrace the new high-tech additions to the fair, or decide that your cell phone doesn’t quite fit in with your cowboy boots, the fair is still the best family-friendly event in the county. Nowhere else can you see the talents of local residents on display, next to exotic animals and antique tractors. The kids can learn all about farm life, while also getting a thrill on the carnival rides.

And did I mention the food? I dream about fair food for months. No diet is worth forgoing at least one night’s worth of fried, roasted and dipped county fair delectables.

One hundred years from now, the county fair will still be the best family-friendly event in town. I shudder to think of what new gadgets will be a must at the bicentennial celebration of the Stanislaus County Fair.

Will there be floating dock parking for flying vehicles? Or maybe vehicles will be obsolete and everyone will just teleport straight from their homes to the fairgrounds?

Whatever advances technology brings in the future, you can be sure that there will always be a line at the corn dog booth at the Stanislaus County Fair.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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