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Merced fair earns top honors

POSTED December 4, 2010 12:17 a.m.

The Merced County Fair has received two first place Agricultural Awards of Excellence from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions headquartered in Springfield, Mo.

The fair's "Wetlands, Water & Wildlife" themed feature exhibit took first place honors in the "Green Program" category for fairs with up to 100,000 in attendance. The exhibit showcased the thousands of acres of grasslands and wetlands in western Merced County utilized for farming, wildlife conservation and preservation, with an emphasis on what agriculture is doing to enhance conservation efforts.

The interactive exhibit provided fairgoers with the sights, sounds, smells and feel of the grasslands and wetlands to show the far-reaching impact of this major migratory stop for birds. Fair staff got help producing and manning the exhibit with help from representatives of several government agencies and organizations including: Grassland Environmental Education Center, California Department of Fish and Game, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Grassland Stewardship Council, California Waterfowl Association, Merced County Courthouse Museum, California Wildlife Conservation Board, San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation and the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center.

The fair also won first place in the "Special Agricultural Exhibit for the Fairgoing Public" category for "Mr. Duck's Wild Ride, A Wetland Odyssey." This exhibit was a huge Rube Goldberg-like contraption designed to be a fun way to interpret the fair's "Wetlands, Water & Wildlife" theme and the importance of water in the San Joaquin Valley.

The attraction, which included a "rubber ducky cannon" and a "Ferris Wheel," was created by Merced College Physics Instructor, Lana Jordan, and her students. The machine was a meandering duck track/stream that was 50 feet long, 15 feet wide and 8 feet tall and was "home" to 144 yellow rubber duckies who went on a wild ride with the help of a 600-pound pump-driven water wheel. 

"These are very prestigious honors in the world of fairs and expositions," said Merced County Fair CEO Tom Musser. "Both of these winning entries were true community partnership efforts that received rave reviews from our fairgoers. That's a great source of pride for all of us at the Merced County Fair."

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