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Fair new experience for some, annual tradition for others
Retiring CEO kicks off last fair
Elijah Peters, 2, is assisted by his parents Deena and Austin Peters in throwing darts at balloons on the midway Friday night. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Friday not only marked the exciting opening of this year’s Stanislaus County Fair for hundreds of fairgoers, but also the last fair under the direction of Chris Borovansky, who has served as the fair’s chief executive officer for the past five years.  

After more than 30 years in the fair industry, Borovansky announced in February his intention to retire, saying it was time for him to have a real summer vacation.

However, Borovanksy’s approaching retirement was far from the mind of the CEO on Friday, who described himself as being in “fair mode.”

“There is so much to do that I cannot dwell on this being my last fair,” said Borovansky. “I feel good, but I will definitely soak in this fair more than others.”

Despite keeping busy with the fair during its 10-day run, Borovansky revealed that the reality of his departure will hit him on the day after the fair ends, what he refers to as “getaway day.”

“Getaway day is always the saddest day of the year for me,” said Borovansky.

Borovansky took over as head of the Stanislaus County Fair as the elimination of State funding saw county fairs around the region either close or shortened their runs. He helped to see the fair continue its historic 10-day run, mainly through community partnerships like the Friends of the Fair Foundation.

Borovansky described this year’s fair offerings as being more diverse than ever, with quality entertainment for free, motor sports, rodeos, Hispanic programming and livestock exhibits.

“This fair is second to none,” said Borovansky. “There is something for everyone here.”

Although this is Borovanksy’s last experience with the Stanislaus County Fair, it was the first for Felicia Luna, who showed up early before opening day.

“This is a nice break away from the kids and husband,” said Luna. “Plus, I am really excited to ride the rides and try the funnel cake.”

Luna also expressed enthusiasm to see the headliner for the night, Colt Ford, at the Bud Light Variety Free Stage. Ford is just the beginning of an abundance of entertainers for this year fair, with other big names including Martina McBride, America and Grand Funk Railroad.

Other fairgoers have regarded the annual event as a staple in their lives for years, such as James Furze and husband-wife duo Bruce Sawyer and Jeanette Sawyer.

Furze, who has been going to the Stanislaus County Fair every year for the past 17 years, attended the Friday opening for the opportunity to walk around and see what was in store for this year, as well as check out the various exhibit halls.

Furze also reported that he often attended the fair to meet up with friends and have fun. It is because of this that he anticipated returning to the fair several times this year.

“This fair is always a good way to get together and to have a good time,” said Furze.

Noting that they have attended fairs for almost the entirety of their lives, Bruce and Jeanette Sawyer explained that their love for the fair was sparked years ago when they used to show dairy cattle in the FFA and 4-H programs.

“To me, the Stanislaus County Fair is the best fair out of neighboring counties,” said Jeanette Sawyer. “It’s good, clean entertainment for families.”

“It’s also a great educational opportunity for kids to see animals they’ve never seen before,” added Bruce Sawyer.