At a time when Stanislaus County is experiencing double-digit unemployment and has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the country, people turned out in record numbers for the 98th Stanislaus County Fair.
Over 227,200 fair guests visited the Stanislaus County Fair during its 10-day run, distinguishing the 2009 fair as the second highest attended fair in a 15-year history. In addition to record-breaking attendance, the fair’s new Park ‘N Ride service also exceeded fair officials’ expectations, delivering 10,200 fair guests to its historic Arch Gate from free parking lots at CSU Stanislaus and Pitman High School.
“The new Park ‘N Ride program was a success from the moment the first passenger boarded,” said Tony Leo, chief executive officer of the Stanislaus County Fair. “We are so thankful for our partners at CSU Stanislaus and the Turlock Unified School District who provided the parking lots.”
Another highlight of the 2009 Stanislaus County Fair was the new Rainforest Adventure exhibit, sponsored by Sky Trek Aviation. “From the day we opened until the day we closed our fair guests were phoning, emailing and offering in-person kudos about this extraordinary exhibit,” said Tony Leo, chief executive officer of the Stanislaus County Fair.
On the opposite end of the fairgrounds, 4-H and FFA members exhibited 2,294 animals. Dairy exhibitors sold 100 heifers at the 42nd Annual Replacement Heifer Sale, held Friday, August 7, bringing in $235,675 from bidders. At the 45th Junior Livestock Auction on Saturday, August 8, 4-H and FFA exhibitors sold 693 animals and grossed $557,674.
Highlights of the sale include the standing ovation received by Hughson FFA member Kaytie Bettincourt who has cerebral palsy resulting in very limited mobility. The wheelchair bound exhibitor, wheeled into the auction ring by her father, had a goal of standing during the sale of her rabbit meat pen (three Standard Rex rabbits). Not only did she accomplish her physical goal, the three rabbits (12 to 15 pounds combined) sold for $100 per pound.
Another highlight of the Junior Livestock Auction was the sale of Modesto FFA member Brad Mendes’s Supreme Champion pig. The 274 pound animal sold for $20 per pound.
“The excitement of nine nights of motorsports and one night of rodeo in our FoodMaxx Arena were also welcomed by our fair guests,” said Leo. “Both destruction derbies and the truck and tractor pull event were sell-outs.”
The fair’s new Legends Racing event, which included a special appearance of monster trucks and transforming robotic cars was also very popular. “The new Legends Racing event was nearly 90 percent full,” reported Leo. “That kind of response to a brand new event is just phenomenal.”
All of the 10 free celebrity concerts on the Budweiser Variety Free Stage were very well attended. Of the most popular were newsboys, Gretchen Wilson, Josh Turner, Huey Lewis and The News and Pablo Montero and Noelia.
Another success of the 2009 fair was the thousands of little children who had the opportunity to meet and greet Dora the Explorer and her cousin Diego. The costumed characters visited the fair on Kids Free Night.
“Free concerts, free shuttle service, the free Rainforest Adventure exhibit—all of these and more were included with fair admission,” said Leo. “Once again, our fair guests affirmed that you just cannot find a better value for your dollar.”
Plans are already underway for the 2010 fair. The 2010 theme is “Flavors of the Valley” that will highlight food products that are processed in the Central Valley.