Friday marked the first night of the 2022 Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock. As this is the first year the annual event was at full capacity since 2019 because of COVID-19, excitement was in the air amongst attendees.
Fairground gates officially opened to the public at 5 p.m., but that didn’t stop community members from arriving early. The very first people in line for general admission were Austin and Dovie Mohr of Denair. The couple took their place in front of the Golden Valley Health Centers gate at 2:30 p.m.
“We’re big fans of the fair and we’re just super excited to be here,” Austin said.
The couple explained that they are looking to catch up on lost time by coming multiple days this year.
“We come to the fair every year, normally just one day per fair, but this time we’re coming for two days. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to do this,” Dovie said.
The two planned on going on as many rides as possible on the opening night before returning to see the band Smash Mouth with their kids on Saturday.
As the Mohrs and other families waited anxiously outside the gates prior to the opening, there was already tons of action happening inside amongst the hundreds of livestock. Members of local FFA and 4-H organizations were at the fairgrounds for the majority of the day, overlooking and caring for their animals and preparing them for the week ahead.
Jon Chapman is a rising senior at Turlock High School was one of the hundreds of local FFA students in attendance. He has three cows to show at the fair and spoke about the excitement leading up to the week without restrictions.
“I was in 4-H since I was nine up until middle (school) and joined FFA once in high school. This year is a lot different from the past few as we’re getting back into a full swing. The fair is always fun to be with friends, hang out and show cows,” he said.
Chapman shared that he is most looking forward to the competition and showing his cattle in front of excited, full crowds again.
Blake Zimmer of Pitman FFA shared similar sentiments. Zimmer owns about 20 cattle in total but is only showing two at this year’s fair. Like Chapman, he has been coming to the county fair since he was nine years old and is excited to see things return to normal.
“It’s going to be nice to see people flowing through here,” he said. “Other than all the other people who are usually here, it’s nice to bring in a new crowd.
Some of the early birds to the fairgrounds also included fans of the band WAR, dressed in their favorite band merch. The Long Beach group rocked the Coors Light stage late into the night in front of a packed house. Seats also quickly filled the FoodMaxx Arena ahead of the diesel and smoker Truck and Tractor Pull competition.
Fun at the fair will continue up until July 17, with concerts, arena events and livestock showings amongst other entertainment happening each day. For more information, pick up a copy of the Journal’s Fair magazine.