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Fair time is upon us
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No sooner than the Turlock Chamber finished hosting thousands of guests on our fairgrounds for the Fourth of July, our team at the Stanislaus County Fair has shifted into high gear to prep our grounds and buildings for a celebration of our own.

The annual Stanislaus County Fair is a celebration of food, family, and summer fun and this year we are also celebrating the many things we do to help keep our planet green.

Right now, hundreds of individual pieces of the puzzle are all moving into place to create one picture-perfect family extravaganza. Among the preparations, the Fair’s grounds crew is planting over 8,500 flower plants to beautify the grounds. We will constantly be tending our gardens, which are a big thing this year with First Lady Michelle Obama making a splash with her organic White House garden. Fair guests will be able to stroll through the lush Floriculture Building, sponsored by Westurf Nursery, and peruse the plentiful vegetable gardens, colorful and aromatic rose gardens and the many flourishing plant exhibits.

Just last week, two of our largest exhibit buildings, totaling over 30,000 square feet, were empty caverns. Today, the team is setting up for the arrival of more than 25,500 exhibits — from cakes and pies to fine art and digital photography. Our maintenance and exhibit crew members are dusting off display shelves and cabinets that have been in hibernation since last year’s fair. And, since thousands of our exhibits have fur and feathers, work has begun to clean out the barns and show rings in preparation for the 2,500 animals that will hoof it over to the fairgrounds in just a few weeks.

As part of celebrating the earth, we are creating an 8,000 square foot rainforest exhibit which will feature all sorts of rainforest animals and a set design to rival Disneyland. Our amazing designers, Clayton and Elaine Everett, are transforming a bare cement slab into a lush Rainforest Adventure. This extraordinary exhibit is made possible by our friends from Sky Trek Aviation. This type of exhibit is unique for fairs and is one of the things that sets the Stanislaus County Fair apart from other county fairs. Mounds of mortar, gigantic canvas tarps, hundreds of feet of aluminum foil, pounds and pounds of spray-on foam and an incredible amount of creativity are made over into stately trees, flowing waterfalls and eight foot tall mushrooms. Wait until you see this place!

Friends, this city within a city doesn’t come together without the commitment and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and staff members. We are so fortunate to have a core of really talented people working on this team. I consider myself one lucky man to work in the fair business — my job is to create family fun.

There is a ton more that needs to happen over the next few weeks as we prepare for our July 31 opening. I look forward to seeing you during our 10 days of “Renewable Fun.”
— Tony Leo is chief executive officer of the Stanislaus County Fair. He has worked in the fair industry for over 25 years. This is his 12th Stanislaus County Fair.