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Crowds braving the County Fair despite hot evenings
Ceres FFA students finding successes at sweltering fair
Aaralyn Jauregui
Central Valley High School FFA member Aaralyn Jauregui has been enjoying her time with her sheep entry at the Stanislaus County Fair. All the FFA members have been working extra hard to keep their animals as comfortable as possible in triple-digit temperatures that have blanketed the Valley. - photo by Photos courtesy of Ceres Unified School District

Despite temperatures spiking to 108 degrees and an Excessive Heat Warning from the National Weather Service in place when the gates to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock officially opened to the general public, a determined crowd still made it out to the opening day of the 106th Stanislaus County Fair on Friday afternoon.

Per tradition, the first day of festivities was sponsored by the Ceres Courier’s parent company, 209 Magazine. To keep the Fourth of July spirit going, the first 1,000 kids received red, white and blue glow necklaces and all active and former military members were admitted free of charge. The patriotic theme continued Saturday when the first 1,000 kids received temporary red, white and blue Stanley mascot tattoos.

Usually, families begin forming a line at each of the entries more than an hour before gates officially open on the first day of festivities. But on Friday, the first few visitors elected to not brave the heat and arrived just a couple minutes before the grand opening. Nevertheless, by the time the sun started setting, the walkways were as jam-packed as usual.

Temperatures continued sizzling in the 100s until about 8:30 p.m. on Friday and did not drop out of the 90s until just before the grounds closed at midnight. Over the weekend, temperatures soared above 111 degrees, keeping potential fair-goers at home.

Those who have to stay for much of the duration of the Fair are the FFA and 4-H members showing their animals.

“They’re troopers,” commented Amy Peterman, the new superintendent of the Ceres Unified School District who visited the Ceres kids at the fairgrounds Monday morning. “They’re all excited because they’ve been working hard on these projects for so long. There are fans everywhere, there’s water bottles. Everyone’s working hard to keep them cool enough –and their animals – so they’re doing just fine.”

Days into the fair, local students have posted achievements when their animals were judged.

In the novice FFA Rabbit Showmanship, Central Valley High School student Elizabeth Abarca placed first and Aubrey Gibbons won 8th place ribbon.

In the Intermediate Rabbit Showmanship competition, Cassie Guzman of CVHS FFA placed first and Briann Tavares took fifth place.

In the Intermediate Rabbit Showmanship, CVHS’ Cassie Guzman won 7th place in meat rabbit classification.

Liana Guzman placed sixth in Advanced Rabbit Showmanship.

In the Rabbit Holland Lop Class competition, Cassie Guzman placed fifth and Eliana Tamayo placed fourth in Solid Senior Buck; KaDynce Piceno won a first place blue ribbon in Solid Senior Doe and won Best of Opposite Sex of Breed and Best Opposite Variety; while Aubrey Gibbons took first place in Broken Senior Buck and Best of Breed.

The CVHS FFA swine show team claimed a number of impressive placements. They included Josh Ludwig, second in class; Garret Garcia, second in class; Madyson Daniels, third in class; Audrey Rico Salgado, third in class; Veronica Herrera, fourth in class; Alex Woods, fourth in class; Mason Whitworth, fifth in class; and Angelica Hernandez, fifth in class.

A number of CVHS FFA members have vegetable exhibits at the fair as well. They are: Josh Ludwig, Briann Tavares, Cassie Guzman, Liana Guzman, Lliria Lira Trinidad, Joshuah Michelena, Isabella Michelena, Shi-Anne Woodard and Isabel Gonzalez.

Ceres High School FFA member Samantha Ibarra claims a first place ribbon with her swine project named, Polly.

Lliria Lira Trinidad and Cassie Guzman showed two breeding does, Rosie and Pepper, raised on the CUSD Student Farm that competed on Wednesday before the fair started.

“They didn’t win anything but they competed,” said CVHS agriculture teacher Micaela Smith of the duo. “It was a really big deal for us because we breed our own goats so we’re really pumped to be able to show some of our babies from this year for the first time.”

Smith reported that the heat is affecting both animals and students.

“It is super hot out here,” Smith said on Monday, “and there’s been lots of extra precautions to keep the kids and these animals cool, even from the smallest rabbit to our pigs and our sheep and goats that are here right now. We’re doing lots of extra things, bringing in generators to bring in more fans, keeping water at all times, doing everything we can to keep these guys cooled down. The pigs tend to be the more sensitive ones because they don’t sweat. So far, so good.”

To make it easier on the FFA members showing animals in the ring, depending on time of day some have been given a pass from wearing their jackets because of the heat.

To help individuals combat the heat, there are additional cooling sections with fans and misters placed throughout the fairgrounds. At the cooling spaces are even water filling stations, where guests can fill their cups with cold water, free of charge. Two sealed water bottles or sports drinks per person or one empty reusable bottle per person is allowed on the premises.

There are also a number of refreshments for sale. This year, the grounds are hosting 41 concession stands serving up a variety of food and perhaps most important ice-cold fountain and alcoholic drinks to the folks. New vendors serving up cold treats are Suds & Floats, Aguas Frescas and Vic’s Churros and Ice Cream.

Staff is predicting the fair to draw approximately 240,000 visitors this year, a slight drop-off from the 270,000 that walked the fairgrounds last year. 

In addition to Friday’s giveaway, visitors were treated to a performance from country music star David Lee Murphy— who performed hit songs like “Dust on the Bottle,” “PartyCrowd” and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” — at the Modelo Variety Free Stage, tractor pulls at the FoodMaxx Arena and a drone show, tabbed as the “Patriotic Sky Spectacular.”

The Stanislaus County Fair was awarded a grant from the Valley Air District to introduce an innovative and environmentally friendly alternative to fireworks. The drone show has been described as a choreographed performance of lights and music, creating dynamic aerial formations and visual displays. The drones graced the sky over the fairgrounds over the past weekend, as well. Saturday was the second day of the Patriotic Sky Spectacular while Sunday’s was a multicultural sky show.

On weekdays, the fairgrounds will open to the general public at 4 p.m. On weekends, the gates open at noon. Grounds close each day at midnight. The ticket office will also be open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, head to 

(Editor Jeff Benziger contributed to this report).

Sharp CVHS FFAers
Sharp looking members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) from Central Valley High School are at the Fair this week. - photo by Contributed to the Courier