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Fair season kicks off
Merced County Fair heats up with summer fun
31-exhibitor pig
The 2015 Merced County Fair will offer a number of activities for fairgoers this year, including more than 35 thrilling rides, addicting carnival games, and animal exhibits by 4-H and Future Farmers of America. - photo by PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

Catch a wave to the “5 Best Days of Summer” at the Merced County Fair, a beach-themed bonanza that will undeniably delight fairgoers will new attractions, deep fried favorites, and crowd-pleasing entertainment.


To reflect this year’s theme, there will be a “Cutest Beach Boy & Girl Contest,” where girls and boys up to five years of age can compete for prizes while wearing their favorite beach gear, as well as a photo contest, coconut-decorating contest, and an opportunity to sit in giant Adirondack beach chairs.


This year has a lot of new activities in store including a transformer-like exhibit that will amaze visitors as an orange Harley motorcycle and a yellow Camaro sports car turn into robots and back into motor vehicles right before their eyes.


Fairgoers will also get the opportunity to meet a number of California published authors, including Ed Franklin, former Merced High School history teacher and author of “The Ghost Ship.” Visitors can buy books, with genres ranging from children’s books to non-fiction, and even get their copies signed by attending authors.


The fair will also welcome a number of new rides to this year’s list of more than 35 attractions, including Kite Flyer, Mardi Gras Funhouse, Wind Surfer, Balloon Samba, and Utoob Funhouse.


One of the new attractions, the Pirate Jet ride, is not only new to Butler Amusements, but also new to the United States. Together, families can ride in a fleet of pirate ships throughout the high seas.


Along with new activities, the fair will welcome back a variety of fair favorites, including the nightly antique tractor parade, the Sunshine Lane Family Zone, the kids’ area devoted to hands-on fun and activities, and the Great American Petting Zoo.


On June 10, Mercy Medical Center Seniors’ Day will offer free admission to seniors ages 65, and fairgoers who donate two or more cans of food to the Merced County Fair Bank can get a free admission ticket to the Auto Races.  There will also be a free fireworks show at 10 p.m. to celebrate opening day.


EECU Kids’ Day is June 11 and kids ages 12 and under will get free admission. Kids’ day activities will include Home Depot kids’ workshops and the AgBee, an ag-themed spelling bee for the county’s top spellers in 4th grade through 8th grade.


GASCAR Crazy Animal Races will return not only for Kids’ Day, but for all five days of the fair. During the interspecies animal races, fairgoers can watch as goats, sheep, ducks, and pigs attempt to outrun each other around the track.


As always, the Merced County Fair will sizzle and tantalize with deep fried Oreos, deep fried red velvet cake, deep fried cheese cake, and even deep fried Pop Tarts. Fairgoers can also try out a variety of new food offerings, including Willamette Valley apple and berry pies, cobblers, and turnovers, and Tropical Paradise Shaved Ice.


Presented by Modelo Especial, this year’s Table Mountain FREE Concert Series will feature a number of artists at 8:30 p.m. in the Outdoor Theatre. Headliners include 7eventh Time Down, Tower of Power, John Lee Hooker, Jr., Aaron Tippin, and Tierra.


Grandstand entertainment this year is presented by Table Mountain Casino, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Modelo Especial, and Rancho San Miguel Markets. With all events starting at 7 p.m., the lineup includes IMCA Modifieds and Sport Mods, Dwarf Car and Mini-Stocks, Truck and Tractor Pulls, and Bull Riding.


The Merced County Fair is scheduled for Wednesday through June 14. Interested individuals can take advantage of $5 admission fees or a 5-pack of general admission tickets before Tuesday. Discount all-day-ride carnival tickets will also be available for $25 through Tuesday.  


Tickets are sold at or at the Merced County Fair Office, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Tuesday.


Tickets will also be sold at Rancho San Miguel Market, 1930 Yosemite Parkway in Merced and 444 Winston Parkway in Livingston from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Single General Admission Tickets and All-Day-Ride Carnival Coupons will be sold at these outlets.