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Attendance dips at county fair
Concert cancellations may have been factor in visitor drop
Fair pic1
Fans young and old packed the fairgrounds to watch Ashanti perform on July 16. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

With all the exhibits taken down, livestock returned home and midway rides disassembled, it's hard to imagine that over 200,000 people visited the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock over the fair's 10-day run that ended on July 17.

This year’s attendance of 220,000 guests is an impressive number — but still a decrease of about eight percent from last year. In 2015 nearly 249,000 people visited the Stanislaus County Fair, which was a seven percent increase from 2014 and the highest attendance the fair had seen in the previous 11 years. The fair had steadily increased attendance by approximately 10,000 visitors each year since 2012, until this year when those numbers dropped.

“We had a few last minute cancellations from performers like Chaka Khan and Salt-N-Pepa that could’ve contributed to the decrease,” said Adrenna Alkhas, Stanislaus County Fair marketing and communications director. “Without enough time to promote the acts that replaced them it was tough to get the word out.”

Despite the decrease, Alkhas, along with the rest of the Stanislaus County Fair Board, agree that the fair was still an overall success.

“We’ve been here 105 years and our reputation of family fun fair is what matters to us,” said Alkhas. “We had an amazing fair; if our guests our happy, that’s all that really matters to us.”

“Many larger fairs were impacted this year with low attendance numbers,” said Matt Cranford, the fair's CEO. “Our fair is filled with community support who have always stood behind us and supported us when needed.”

As for the fair-going classics, fair concessions were up seven percent this year and Butler Amusement, the fair's midway operator, was at a flat number compared to 2015.

Another staple of classic fair culture, the exhibits and livestock, also drew in massive amounts of people and money.

Nearly 30,000 individual entries were shown at the fair exhibits ranging from cupcakes to photography and everything in between.

Livestock increased in entry numbers with total gross sale of animals exceeding $1.3 million. FFA and 4-H members sold 125 heifers at the 49th Annual Replacement Heifer Sale, grossing $427,450.

Supreme Champion Katie Henriques, from Modesto FFA, sold her heifer for $8,000. Reserve Supreme Champion Avery Martin, from Hilmar FFA, sold her heifer for $4,100.

The 52nd Annual Junior Livestock Auction grossed $909,196.63 for FFA and 4-H members. Sold at auction were four poultry pens, four market turkeys, 29 rabbits, 171 goats, 183 sheep, 400 swine and 58 steers.

The fair’s free Park ‘N Ride shuttle service was also a major success transporting more than 14,316 fairgoers from either the Stanislaus State campus or Pitman High School to the iconic Arch Gate at the fairgrounds.

Another free service for guests at this year’s fair was the Free ‘Til 3 p.m. on Sundays promotion where over 30,000 people took advantage on both Sundays to attend the fair completely free of charge.

“In addition to a successful year filled with many high-valued programs, we wanted to give back to the community by providing a chance for many to enjoy the fair for free,” said Alkhas.  

With another year ended, the Stanislaus County Fair continues to show why it has been a summer tradition for county residents for over a century.