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Merced fair attendance up, despite triple digit temps
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The Merced County Fair not only survived the season’s first bout of triple digit heat this weekend, it also recorded a 23 percent increase in visitors from last year’s fair.

“It was really gratifying to see the community supported us even through a tremendous heat wave,” said the fair’s CEO, Tom Musser. “Families came out once the sun went down and they stayed late to enjoy the fair. It’s a testimony to the quality of our fair – we had a lot of great attractions and things to see and do.”

During the 2012 Merced County Fair, which ran from June 13-16, 75,653 people walked through the gates, an increase of 23 percent from the 2011 fair total of 61,680 visitors. Paid attendance was 56,116, an increase of 32 percent from last year’s 42,419. Attendance at the 2012 fair was up every day compared to 2011, except for Sunday, when the thermometer climbed to 108 degrees.

Musser credited the fair’s decision to cut general admission prices by 50 percent this year as one reason the event saw such an increase in visitors.

 “We kept hearing how much people appreciated the new $5 admission, but this week we got to see what they thought of it – when we opened the gates people just kept coming – it was amazing,” he said.

Halving the admission price was just one way the Merced County Fair sought to attract more visitors. There were several new offerings including boat races, a zip line, “Walk on Water” bubble ride, a fireworks show, a daily Merced High School Marching Band intro to the tractor parade, a 1950s kids costume contest and Seniors’ Day, where seniors 65 and better got in free courtesy of Mercy Medical Center.

“Just offering a bargain admission isn’t enough to attract fairgoers and keep them coming back. The fair served up a lot of entertainment value for the price of admission and even triple digit temperatures couldn’t keep fairgoers away on the weekend,” Musser said.

The fair also hosted quite a few community-centered activities. During its five-day run the fair gave tours to 700 kids in preschools and summer scouting programs, hosted a blood drive and had 1,400 special needs youngsters and adults and seniors from convalescent homes, plus volunteers, participate in the annual “Friends Helping Friends” event.