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Merced County Fair wraps up 125th year celebration
Carnival Swings 1
The Lathrop Lions carnival is now underway - photo by Photo Contributed

June 12 marked the end of the Merced County Fair after five days filled with entertainment, carnival rides and lots of fair food.

This year also marked a special occasion for the fair in that it was its 125th anniversary. The fair’s inaugural run came back in 1891. Throughout the years, the fair has continued to evolve and adapt to the changing times of the Central Valley and its residents. What used to be a mere two-day event back in the late 1920s has quickly become an amusement magnet, drawing in regular crowds of over 70,000 fairgoers each year.

This year’s fair managed to increase its total attendance numbers from last year by 14 percent, bringing a total 74,541 people to the Merced Fairgrounds.

“We tried some new things this year in marketing the Fair, including updating our website to be more user-friendly,” first year fair CEO Teresa Burrola said in a press release Tuesday. “Additionally, we added some small personal touches throughout the fairgrounds to create an even better experience for fairgoers.”

As patrons entered the fairgrounds they walked down a long corridor of trees decorated with sparkling lights and drawing them further in. A birthday theme was present everywhere during the fair with balloons and other images celebrating the fair’s 125th running.

A major focus for the fair’s Board of Directors this year was the task of making this year’s Fair more affordable for guests. Pre-sale discounts were offered at Rancho San Miguel Markets and O’Reilly Auto Parts providing $2 off adult admission and $5 off unlimited carnival ride wristbands. Season passes were also available online and at the Fair Administration Office until the eve of opening day for $10 off. The fair also made an adjustment to the kids’ admission price, reducing it from $5 to $4 in an effort to bring more families out to the fair.

“It all appears to have paid off well for us – that combined with the incredible weather we enjoyed and the continued support from our community, of course,” said Burrola.

The livestock continued to be one of the biggest draws for people to come to the fair this year.  More than 4,846 entries were displayed between the five competitive buildings at the fairground collectively, not to mention the other 1,769 animals on display in livestock.

“I want to say thank you to our community for continually supporting the Merced County Fair, as well as thank our many exhibitors, concessionaires, carnival provider, volunteers and staff who all contributed to creating the best Fair experience possible. I look forward to welcoming you all back next year when we all come together again,” said Burrola.