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Friday not only marked the opening of the ever-popular midway and food alley, but also the fair's many exhibits and competitions in an array of categories for 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) members. Agriculture specialists both young and old showed cattle and sheep on Friday. Livestock competitions will be conducted until Aug. 3. Floral competitions were also held on Friday and will run through Wednesday. Fair judges handed out first through third place awards for different age categories. The winners of these categories will compete for the best in show award later in the week.

The fair has brought many local youth to the fairgrounds, requiring constant care and attention. One of them is Kendra Cook, a Hughson FFA member who has entered her Hollstein heifer into the competition.

"I used to look forward to it," said Cook, a fair entrant since she was 11, "but now it's just the fair. I have to get used to waking up at 5 a.m."

Her responsibilities include washing and feeding her black cow, and sometimes she's in Turlock until 10 p.m.

She shows her animal today in showmanship and grade class.

Victoria Azevedo, a Ceres FFA member, agreed that the fair is a lot of work. Her goat, Gozeerilla, requires running and training in how to be still for showing.

"If he moves, I put him back in position," said Azevedo, "until he gets the idea."

Azevedo spends an average of five hours each day during the fair run.

A multitude of food booths warmed up their grills and fired up their barbecues in preparation for Friday's large opening crowd. Some of the night's popular choices included the All-American Wild West Barbecue, the new Milk Barn serving milkshakes and cold glasses of moo-juice, and the many corn dog booths.

The United Samaritans Foundation and Dubyak Family Chiropractic hosted the fair's apple pie contest inside the homemade and homegrown exhibits building. Anne Williams walked away with first prize, followed by Sharon Drueen and Zella Linn, respectively. The five-member judging panel was made up of local dignitaries.

The midway was packed during the fair's opening night. Popular rides included the Fire Ball, a star-shaped ride that swings and spins riders like a pendulum. As always, the giant carousel saw a lot of eager riders. Carnival games were also a hit Friday, as fair-goers tried their luck at making a basket or shooting a target for a prize.

Live music resonated through the fairgrounds, coming from the many smaller stages sponsored by local companies. Although the fair's opening act, Smash Mouth, canceled just days before the fair was set to open its gates, Three Dog Night put on a performance that wowed the crowd and gave everyone something to cheer about.