TURLOCK — Livestock and midway and wizards, oh my.
The Stanislaus County Fair opens today, mixing traditional favorites and new attractions with hopes for another busy year as temperatures for the 10-day event promise to stay under triple digits.
"We've become the jewel of the valley as far as family activities," said Stanislaus County Fair Board of Directors President Linda Weidman. "We try to cover everything there is to cover."
The 102nd annual event brings together agricultural showcases, carnival rides, music headliners, a new Wizard's Challenge exhibit and more. Last year more than 220,000 people attended, and fair Marketing and Communications Director Adrenna Alkhas said at least that many are expected this year.
Temperatures are forecast to stay in the mid-90s throughout the fair's 10-day run, helping attendance and encouragingvisitors to explore all the grounds have to offer. And there's much to see.
More than 2,000 animals will be shown by Future Farmers of America, 4-H and independent exhibitors including steer, lambs, hogs, chickens, rabbits and goats.
More than 31 food vendors will be present featuring everything from old-fashioned corn dogs and New Orleans jamba- laya to for the gastronomically fearless the "Deep Fried 5-Alarm Burger on a Stick."
More than 30 carnival-style midway rides are set up for thrill-seekers, including the Raptor, a new spinning ride, and Shot Tower, a drop-style attraction.
To help visitors navigate it all, a free mobile app is available for iPhone and Android users for the second year in a row. It features schedules, maps and more. Last year more than 15,000 people downloaded the app.
This year the new Wizard's Challenge replaces the popular Rainforest Adventure exhibit. The all-ages experience walks visitors through a series of science-based games and features including bubble cauldrons, a wall of nails and magic mirror.
The fair kicks off its nightly headliner shows with country hitmaker Clay Walker tonight. All the concerts are free and the remaining schedule includes "Weird Al" Yankovic, Hinder and Huey Lewis & The News, among others.
Weidman said she is proud the fair has kept its mix of educational and fun elements over the years. She said some fairs have pushed to become more commercial, but in Stanislaus County agriculture is still a main focus.
"I think it's a good example of what a fair should be," she said. "Young people come to the fair and see how ag works. We have a lot of good fun here, but we also have a lot of good education."
TODAY AT THE FAIR
The Modesto Bee Night at the Fair: Bring two canned food items tonight to benefit the United Samaritans and receive a $2 off one adult admission ticket.
Entertainment: Headliner is Clay Walker at 8:30 p.m.; other events include Greg Scudder and the Beer 30, 5:30 p.m.; K9 Kings Flying Dog Show with JD Platt, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Madie Boyd, 6 p.m.; and Tuff Trucks plus Monster Trucks, 6:30 p.m.
Hours: The Stanislaus County Fair opens at 5 p.m. weekdays and noon on weekends. The grounds close at midnight each night.
Tickets: $12 for adults and $5 for seniors and children ages 7 to 12. Children 6 and under are free.
Getting there: On-site fair parking is $5 and a free Park 'n' Ride Shuttle from the California State University, Stanislaus or Pitman High School parking lots is available nightly. Shuttles depart every 15 minutes.
More info: Call (209) 668-1333 or visit www.stancofair.com.