When the Stanislaus County Fair opens its doors Friday evening, guests won't find the same old, same old attractions.
“We did want to shake things up a little this year,” said Fair spokesperson Adrenna Alkhas.
About 220,000 people come to the fair each year. Last year, roughly 110,000 toured the rainforest animal exhibit, then in its third year.
But this year, an entirely new exhibit will replace the animals – the fantastical scientific world of Wizard's Challenge. There, children can learn about bubbles, play with magic mirrors, and walk through a rotating dragon's lair.
After the Challenge, families can buy fresh produce at a new Fair farmers market. The market, put on in partnership with the Turlock Certified Farmers Market, will offer fresh fruit, nuts, and candy to fairgoers every day in the Imagine the Food exhibit building.
A short stroll then takes guests to a new, expansive exhibit all about trains, put on by a local club of experts.
“Basically, we're a bunch of guys who like to play with trains,” said San Joaquin Valley Toy Trains Operators Event Coordinator William McLimans.
The train group holds its regular meetings at the fairgrounds, and has previously displayed a model train in the Fair's garden exhibit. This year, the club has taken over an entire exhibit hall, replacing the old wetlands exhibit with three massive model train sets.
The entire exhibit was created in just three months, McLimans said, after Fair CEO Chris Borovansky asked the club to take part.
Other smaller attractions are new, too, like the “Water Ballers,” where guests can stand inside an inflatable plastic ball and run around a pool like a hamster. And a singing, dancing, scootering “Rock-it Robot” will be making the rounds, entertaining all who come near.
That doesn't mean the fair is all new for 2013. Many favorites will make their return, like the K9 Kings Flying Dog Show, FFA farmyard animals, nightly concerts, motorsport madness, and scores of carnival rides.
But even those old favorites will see some new twists, with debuting rides like the Super Shot Drop and the Raptor both guaranteed to leave one's stomach in his or her neck.
With opening day just 24 hours away, fair employees are still scrambling to put the final touches on the 102nd annual Stanislaus County Fair. But Alkhas is confident that everything will be picture perfect come Friday evening.
“It's always the little details,” Alkhas said. “You get the big picture done and then it dwindles down to the little details.
The Stanislaus County Fair opens at 5 p.m. Friday for a 10-day run. For more information, visit www.stancofair.com.
The following free concerts will be held at 8:30 p.m. daily, on the Budweiser Variety Free Stage:
July 12 – Clay Walker
July 13 – Weird Al Yankovic
July 14 – Creedence Clearwater Revisited
July 15 – 38 Special
July 16 – Hinder
July 17 – Huey Lewis and The News
July 18 – Tower of Power
July 19 – Morris Day & the Time
July 20 – Gloriana
July 21 – El Coyote y su Banda, con invitado especial Manuel Romero
The following Foodmaxx Arena events will be held at 6:30 p.m. daily, though tickets have an additional cost:
July 12 – Tuff Trucks and Monster Trucks
July 13 – Truck and Tractor Pulls
July 14 – Quad Drags and Extreme Freestyle Motorcycles
July 15 – Destruction Derby I: Traditional Turmoil
July 16 – Destruction Derby II: Metal Mayhem
July 17 – Valley Stock Tractor Pullers
July 18 – CCPRA Rodeo (Free)
July 19 – MotoX Featuring Metal Mulisha
July 20 – Motorcross/Quad Cross and Pee Wee Bikes
July 21 – Mud Bog/Races and Lawn Mower Races