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Merced County Fair attendance falls

Merced County Fair attendance falls

A 4-H member shows her goat at the Merced County Fair on July 20.

POSTED July 31, 2009 11:16 p.m.
Despite a variety of new attractions such as the “Showcase of the Stars, Rockin’ Idol” vocal contest and the first ever Guitar Hero competition, the Merced County Fair saw a significant decrease in attendance numbers this year.
“The downturn in the economy hurt us this year. The unaudited 2009 fair attendance is 55,794. That’s a 30 percent decline from the 2008 fair, which was 81,000. It’s too bad because we put on a great fair but there are a lot of people who just didn’t have the money to spend,” said Merced County Fair Interim CEO Patricia Kress. “We’re not the only fair that saw fewer fairgoers coming through the gates, it’s a trend we’re seeing in other areas that have been hit hard by the recession.”
“We’re grateful the weather was comfortable again this year — that always makes a difference,” she said.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department reported only minor problems during the fair, which ran from July 21-26, and one fight. The one and only fight took place near a concession stand as the fair was closing and involved four men. According to the sheriff’s department, an argument escalated into a physical altercation that ended with three of the four men involved being arrested and the fourth seeking treatment at the hospital for his injuries.
“Just like the May Day Fair, we had very few problems because our deputies were there to ensure that everyone had a good, safe time,” Sheriff Mark Pazin said. “We’re not going to tolerate people who come to the fair to cause problems, we’re here for the families who want to come out and enjoy what the fair has to offer.”
During the six-day event 8,935 exhibits were judged, 539 animals were sold at the Livestock and Rabbit auctions for a total of $346,436 and 250 pounds of linguica sausage was cooked up and served at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles food concession stand.
The 2010 Merced County Fair will be under the leadership of newly hired CEO Thomas Musser. Musser, 57, was hired by the Merced County Fair Board of Directors in May following a search that began in March. He will replace Robin Hauck, who served as the Merced County Fair’s CEO for more than three years. She was hired in October 2005 and resigned March 31 to take the position of Deputy Manager at the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley.
“It’s been my pleasure to oversee the 2009 Merced County Fair as the Interim CEO,” said Kress.
Musser will officially begin working with the fair’s staff today.
The 118th Merced County Fair was themed “Catch the Buzz,” in recognition of one of county’s top ag products — bees. The theme was picked through an open contest. Patti Otto, of Amsterdam, a small farming community in Northern Merced County, submitted the prize-winning theme. Wetlands and water will be the spotlight of the 2010 Merced County Fair. The fair has already launched its theme contest for the 119th annual event. The deadline to submit suggestions is 5 p.m. Aug. 28. The winner of the contest will receive $100 and two season passes to the fair. The second and third place winners will each be awarded a pair of season passes to the six-day event.
Entries must be five words or less and a maximum of eight entries per person can be submitted. Entries can be e-mailed to or mailed to 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Merced, CA 95341. Submissions must include the entrant’s name, address and phone number, as well as the slogan.

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