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Fair offers family fun since opening night
Halle Eddings Hughson FFA
On a very warm Monday morning, Hughson FFA member Halle Eddings showed her hog at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock. Her showmanship effort garnered her a second place ribbon. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Carnival games, sputtering tractor engines, delectable food and even a wild animal or two 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 in spite of the summer heat. 

The temperature was 96 degrees when the fair gates opened at 5 p.m., but that didn’t stop Charlee Millsap and her daughter Baylee Millsap from being the first fair-goers to walk past the ticket takers and onto the midway.

“Even though I’m 25 and have been here every single year, I’ve never been on the first day before and neither has (Baylee) so I’m excited,” Millsap said. “We knew it was going to be packed, so we came early.”

Over 230,000 guests visited the Turlock Fairgrounds during the Fair’s 10-day run in 2018, and just as many if not more attendees are expected this year to check out its carnival rides, adorable animals and music concerts. 

Country act High Valley kicked off the concert series on the Coors Light Variety Free Stage this year, and Modesto resident Hannah Bellman brought her mom Cynthia Wright to the venue several hours early so that they could get front row seats. It was both women’s first time at a Stanislaus County Fair concert, they said, and it was their love for country music as well as the crooning brother duo that encouraged their early arrival. 

“I’ve been following the band on social media and listening to their music for years,” Bellman said. “This was just a great opportunity for us to see them closer than we probably will ever be able to.”

While concertgoers waited in the sun for a glimpse of the country stars, FFA and 4-H members nearby in the ag pavilion worked to keep their animals cool despite the evening’s hot temperatures. While the upper 90s temperatures had fair-goers wiping their brow on Friday, it’s expected to be even hotter over the weekend with triple digit weather on Saturday and Sunday. 

FFA members hose down their animals during the day to keep them cool, and fans ensure the animals don’t overheat. 

On Saturday the heat put a damper on attendance until the sun dropped and with it temperatures to pull a noticeably large crowd. The 10-time Grammy nominated, three-time Grammy-winning band Blood, Sweat and Tears – led by new singer Keith Paluso – performed their popular hits. Paluso, 30, noted that he was on TV competition show, The Voice, while he was a ranger with a Germantown, Tenn., park.

Taking the stage on Sunday was the Mexican musician Ulices Chaidez. On Monday  female country duo Maddie & Tae took the Coors Light Variety Stage. Fair goers were treated to female band En Vogue after TLC was forced to cancel because of medical reasons of a member.

At 8:30 p.m. this evening country artist Clay Walker will perform while Marshall Tucker Band is the headliner on Thursday at the same time. Magic! Takes the stage on Friday, 98 Degrees on Saturday and Roberto Tapia on Sunday.

The 2019 Fair features a spectacular children’s area presented by Sky Trek Aviation. Also included are free celebrity concerts included with Fair admission, a total of three stages of live entertainment, upwards of 30,000 local exhibits and over 1,750 animals.

For more information about the award-winning Stanislaus County Fair, visit 

(Jeff Benziger contributed to this report).

Kirsten Larson
Hughson FFA member Kirsten Larson won fourth place for her rabbit during Monday morning’s judging. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Brian Winchester
Central Valley High School FFA member Brian Winchester during Monday’s showmanship in the competition arena at the Stanislaus County Fair. He placed fourth in showmanship. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Blood Sweat and Tears
Lead singer Keith Paluso belts out a Blood, Sweat & Tears hit while an unidentified member plays bass guitar.