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Kate Honsik creates a huge bubble as she and others play in the Mind Works exhibit at the Stanislaus County Fair. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal


The corn dogs are hot and the milkshakes cold. The rides are whirling and the cows mooing. The 2015 Stanislaus County Fair has finally arrived. For those fair die-hards making their way to the fairgrounds today, here are five musts for opening day:

      1.  Show your love for an all-American summer treat — apple pie. First, cheer on local bakers in the annual apple pie contest at 6 p.m. in the Competitive Exhibits Hall. Then, make your way to the Turlock Rotary Clubs' Buzz Bars and partake in an adults-only apple pie ala mode beer float.

       2.  Stroll through the recently upgraded livestock areas of the fair to check out the goats, pigs, cows and all other barnyard critters. Then bid on the best of the best heifers raised by local FFA and 4-H exhibitors at the 48th annual Replacement Heifer Sale, set for 7 p.m. at the Thurman Pavilion B6.

3.       Get your motors going at the Super Pull — Hot Rod Tractor and Truck pull. Watch as local drivers pit their engines against each other in a supercharged showdown at 6:30 p.m. in the FoodMAXX Arena. Reserved tickets are $10 each and general seating is $8.

4.        Get up close and personal with a Monarch butterfly in the new Butterfly Discovery Center, located near the Arch Gate entrance. The exhibit features educational information about butterflies, along with a Flutter Garden where fair visitors can feed nectar to nature's flying works of art.

5. As the sun sets, the music will heat up with country rock star Colt Ford. Before he shares the stage with Toby Keith on his "Shut Up and Hold On" summer tour, Ford will share his innovative blend of country music and hip-hop rhythms with Stanislaus County Fair visitors starting at 8:30 p.m. on the Bud Light Variety Free Stage in the center of the fairgrounds.