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Despite heat, fair drawing thousands
County Fair
Liam Smith, 2, enjoys bubbles by Sterling Johnson The Bubble Smith during the opening day of the Stanislaus County Fair on Friday.

Spinning rides, sputtering tractor engines and sinful food made their successful return to Turlock on Friday for opening night of the Stanislaus County Fair, with visitors by the thousands making it out to the fairgrounds despite the summer heat. 

The thermostat read 96 degrees when the fair gates opened at 5 p.m., but that didn’t stop Manteca resident Sharla Gordon from coming to Turlock to experience the fair for the first time. She’s heard many great things about the Stanislaus fair throughout the years, she said, and finally made it to the event this year with a friend. 

“My friends came to pick me up and said, ‘Come see what the fair has to offer,’” Gordon said. “I hear there’s a fantastic funnel cake somewhere.”

Gordon was impressed with Sterling the Bubblesmith and made sure to record a video of his bubble performance for her grandson, and she couldn’t contain her excitement surrounding one feature at the fair that she had also heard much about — Hypnotist Suzy Haner’s show. 

“Everyone’s told me her shows are absolutely outstanding,” Gordon said, adding that she’d prefer to watch the show from the audience rather than be hypnotized on stage. “I’m so excited to be here.”

While Friday was full of firsts for many, it also marked the final opening night for the Stanislaus County Fair’s beloved floriculture staff who plan to retire after the fair’s 10-day run. Combined, the 15 employees who plan on retiring at the end of the event have at least 195 years of experience, floriculture co-superintendent Dick Davis said. 

Davis shares the duties of overseeing the floriculture department with his fellow co-superintendent Harold Whaley, who at 90 years old has over 40 years of experience working at the fair — 27 of which have been in the floriculture department. 

It was Whaley’s decision to retire this year that ultimately led the rest of the staff to do the same, Davis said. 

“We all made a pact and said when Harold quits or retires, we’re all going to go,” Davis said. “It’s always fun and we have a great time, but eventually you just want some time off to do other things and be a little more free in the summer.”

With 30 years of experience working in the floriculture department himself, Davis said that he will most miss the comradery between the employees.

“The thing I’ll miss most is the way all of our staff works together and helps each other,” he said. 

As the floriculture department savored their last opening night at the fair, Ceres resident Renee Bargas prepared to enjoy Friday’s John Michael Montgomery concert on the Bud Light Variety Free Stage. Bargas and her mother waited for hours before the 8:30 p.m. showtime to get front row seats, she said.

“I’ve been a big fan of his ever since I was little,” Bargas said. “My parents always listened to him and I get my music taste from my dad, so I’m excited to see the concert.”

Bargas added that she would be returning to watch more concerts later in the week, including Trace Adkins and Easton Corbin. 

“The concerts are what keep me coming back year after year,” the Ceres woman said. 

While concertgoers waited in the sun for a glimpse of the country star, FFA and 4-H members nearby in the ag pavilion worked to keep their animals cool despite the evening’s hot temperatures. While the 96-degree temperatures had fairgoers wiping their brow, it’s expected to be even hotter over the weekend with triple digit weather until Tuesday.

Hilmar High School junior John Alamo said that the five cows he’s showing at the fair this year don’t milk well under warm temperatures, making it important to keep the heifers cool as they rest.

“In a commercial dairy, when it gets above 70 degrees fans come on and there are misters to keep the cows cool,” Alamo said. “So, here we hose them off during the day when it’s really hot and we also have fans,” Alamo said. 

Despite the heat and expected warm weekend, Alamo and his fellow FFA members weren’t worried about themselves beating the high temperatures. 

“We drink a lot of milk to stay cool,” he joked. “Our priority is to keep the cows comfortable.”

Admission at the gate costs $12 per adult and $7 for children aged 7-12 and seniors 65 and older.

For the Fair midway, unlimited ride wristbands are $30 weekdays and $35 weekends.

Various discounts on admission tickets are also available during the 10-day run of the Fair. Below are discounts and promotions for all 10 days of the Fair:

• Wednesday, July 18 – 209 Magazine Day at the fair with gifts for the first 1,000 guests; $3 off admission with a coupon from a local Taco Bell restaurant; SCOE offers $2 off adult admission and/or free child admission;

• Thursday, July 19 – Sutter Health Day at the Fair with gifts for the first 1,000 guests; $3 off admission with a coupon from a local Taco Bell restaurant; SCOE offers $2 off adult admission and/or free child admission; and kids 12 and younger getting in free;

• Friday, July 20 – Modesto Nuts baseball team Day at the Fair with a gift for the first 1,000 guests; $3 off admission with a coupon from a local Taco Bell restaurant; SCOE offers $2 off adult admission and/or free child admission;

• Saturday, July 21 – Valley First Credit Union Day at the Fair with a gift for the first 1,000 guests, seniors aged 65 and older admitted for free and SCOE offers $2 off adult admission and/or free child admission;

• Sunday, July 22 – Corona Extra Day at the Fair with a gift for the first 1,000 guests; and free admission before 3 p.m. offered by Fox 40.

Entertainment acts include:

• Wednesday, July 18 – Rock band Lifehouse, 8:30 p.m.

• Thursday, July 19 – Hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa, 8:30 p.m.

• Friday, July 20 – Country western singer Easton Corbin, 8:30 p.m.

• Saturday, July 21 – Grand Funk Railroad, 8:30 p.m.

• Sunday, July 22 – Popular Mexican singer and actor Pablo Montero.

The city of Turlock officials have approved free bus rides on Turlock Transit from July 9-22 to include the run of the Stanislaus County Fair.

Turlock Transit will allow all routes to be free of charge to patrons riding their busses during the run of the Fair. Bus Route 2 will run an additional bus and pick up from CSU Stanislaus on Monte Vista Avenue with pick-up times being every 15 minutes from that route. Route 2 will also run through midnight when the Fair closes, as well as during Fair hours on Sundays. The closest drop-off to the Fair with Route 2 will be on Fulkerth at N. Soderquist roads.  There are additional drop-off locations close to the Fairgrounds, as shown on the map. Stanislaus State is also providing free parking in Parking Lot #2 for guests using the Monte Vista Avenue pick up.

Riding the bus is accessible to all patrons coming to Turlock during Fair.  The route schedule can be found online at

The 2018 Stanislaus County Fair opened Friday for a 10-day run. Fair guests can count on an award-winning experience that has been over 107 years in the making. Discounted Fair admission tickets, unlimited ride wristbands, and the Fair season pass are now on sale. Corporate ticket sales will also be available to purchase at a highly discounted rate. Visit the Fair’s website for upcoming ticket sale information at

The 2018 Fair will feature a spectacular children’s area presented by Sky Trek Aviation. Also planned are 10 nights of free celebrity concerts included with admission, three stages of live entertainment, upwards of 30,000 local exhibits and over 1,750 animals. Metal-mashing motorsports and rodeo in the FoodMaxx Arena will also be featured.

For more information about the County Fair, visit

Tickets and ride wristbands can also be purchased online at