Amid a heat wave that saw temperatures rise to 106 degrees, more than 235,000 people made their way to the Stanislaus County Fair from July 14-23 for the event’s 106th year.
The annual county fair always has to contend with hot summer weather, however, this year temperatures reached 100 degrees or more for five days and all 10 days of the fair’s run had highs of 95 degrees or more.
The heat didn’t keep families away from visiting the fair, with 15,000 more making their way to Turlock to catch a concert, learn about the community’s agricultural history and eat a corndog or two than did in 2016. Fair attendance was still not as high though as was seen in 2015, when nearly 249,000 people visited the Stanislaus County Fair.
"This year was successful even with the heat we experienced. Like other events, the heat had an impact on our weekend attendance,” said Matt Cranford, chief executive officer of the Stanislaus County Fair. “But our community supports and enjoys this Fair. That support helped us to see an 8 percent increase in attendance over last year."
Fair concessions were down 3 percent and Butler Amusement, the fair ride operator, was up 15 percent compared to 2016, according to the Fair.
Nearly 30,000 individual entries were exhibited at the 2017 Fair, from orchids and tulips to rabbits and market hogs.
“The exhibit program is what sets us apart from other fairs in the state,” said Alkhas. “The true mark of a fair’s success is not in attendance numbers, but in positive exhibitor participation and happy fair guests.”
Livestock increased in entry numbers with total gross sale of animals sold at the Fair auctions exceeding over $1.365 million. Future Farmers of America and 4-H members sold 125 heifers at the 50th Annual Replacement Heifer Sale, grossing $385,600 ($2,815 per head) a decrease from 2016’s total of $427,450 for 125 heifers.
Supreme Champion was Lane Wheeler, from Turlock FFA, sold her heifer at $4,800. Reserve Supreme Champion was Elijah Pacheco, Independent, and he sold his heifer for $4,800.
The 53rd Annual Junior Livestock Auction grossed $711,057 for FFA and 4-H members — down over $200,000 from last year. Sold at auction were four poultry pens, four market turkeys, 24 rabbits, 159 goats, 172 sheep, 372 swine, and 51 steers. The 53rd Annual Market Beef auction grossed at $268,545.
This year’s Fair had a number of attractions, including the Butterfly Exhibit, a Drone Zone, pig races and a petting zoo. According to Alkhas, the high divers who set themselves on fire received a lot of positive feedback and hypnotist Suzy Haner always had a packed audience at the community stage. The Turlock Lions Club’s demolition derby and motorhome derby also packed the FoodMaxx Arena.
All of the 10 free celebrity concerts on the Bud Light Variety Free Stage were very well received, with Good Charlotte, 38 Special, Lonestar and LeAnn Rimes drawing the most crowds, according to Alkhas.