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Pre-fair horse events a historic tradition
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Ceres 4-H member Ashley Miller competed in the Gymkhana competition on Wednesday earning first place in several events.

The Stanislaus County Fair logo states the fair’s slogan "Imagine the fun!” but it also bears an image of two animals: horses.

Like many of the livestock shown at the fair, horses have come to symbolize the farming industry as well the agricultural organizations that have come to be synonymous with the Stanislaus County Fair. Students of the 4-H and Future Farmers of America chapters prepare year-round to show their animals at the fair, but many also look forward to the few weeks prior to the actual fair when they compete in the Pre-Fair Horse and Livestock Events.

“We’ve been doing these horse shows and events for as long as we’ve had the fair and we opened in 1911, so over 100 years. It’s really something historic,” said Adrenna Alkhas, marketing and communications director for the Stanislaus County Fair.

The Pre-Fair Horse and Livestock Events allow local 4-H and FFA students between the ages of nine and 18 to compete in English, Western, Gymkhana, cutting and even Junior Rodeo. With a variety of events included in each riding competition and roughly 60 competitors each day for each style, locals congregated at the FoodMaxx Arena to put their skills to the test against their fellow competitors.

“It’s something a lot of kids look forward to. It means a lot to everyone, it’s pretty much our lives,” said 17-year-old Gymkhana competitor Ashley Miller of Ceres 4-H.

However, the spirit of competition is not only reserved for the youth as the fair also held an Open Gymkhana competition in which locals of all ages competed.

The Stanislaus County Fair opens July 11 for its 10-day run.