Total attendance at the 120th Merced County Fair was down 4.5 percent from 2010. About 61,700 people attended the fair this year.
However the fair was reduced from six days to five days this summer to save on expenses. Since there were less days there was an actual increase in attendance per day.
Paid attendance for the 2011 fair was 42,419, down from 2010 when paid attendance was 46,679 for the six-day fair.
"People really seemed to be having lots of fun," said the fair's CEO Tom Musser. "There were a lot of new attractions, a lot of exciting things to do, and everyone worked hard to put on a quality fair.
"However, people are still struggling in this economy. These are challenging times. The fair had to make some tough financial decisions such as cutting one day from the fair. While we offered discounts and specials, even then some folks in our community just didn't have the money to go to the fair this year."
As of Monday, Stanislaus County Fair ticket sales were “up slightly from last year at this time” said Chief Executive Officer Chris Borovansky.
Historically, ticket sales typically pick up the closer it gets to the fair date.
“Yes, we are expecting ticket sales are going to go up. The tickets are at a discounted rate through July 14 at 7 p.m.,” said Adrenna Alkhas, Stanislaus County Fair Communications director.
Discounted adult admission tickets to the Stanislaus County Fair are $10, down from $12, and a season pass is going for $75, down from $120. Carnival wristbands can be purchased for $23, down from $35.
Given the current state of the economy, this year’s Merced County Fair offered a bigger bang for the buck. The fair held the first-ever Mercy Medical Center Seniors' Day and the Seniors' Day Expo, giving seniors $2 off admission. The Kids’ Day promotion drew thousands of kids 12 and under, who received free admission. There were dozens of hands-on arts and crafts and science activities, artists’ demonstrations and a variety of music and dance shows at the smaller stages.
The fair kicked off with the Junior Horse Show, gave tours to 722 kids in preschools and summer programs, conducted 10 “day of” cooking contests for seniors and juniors, hosted a blood drive and 1,300 special needs youngsters and adults and seniors from convalescent homes, plus volunteers, were treated to a tour, mini rodeo, dancing and lunch hosted by volunteers at the "Friends Helping Friends."
At the Junior Livestock Auction, 547 pigs, lambs, beef and goats were sold for a total of $384,149, a jump from the 2010 auction sales total of $368,349. Just under 8,800 entries were judged in all categories including junior collections, FFA ag mechanics, 4-H rocketry, FFA floriculture, 4-H plant science, 4-H stitchery and FFA gardens.
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