Imagine the fun at the Stanislaus County Fair

Three Dog Night will perform at the Stanislaus County Fair.
Three Dog Night will perform at the Stanislaus County Fair. Stanislaus County Fair

So, 229,000 people can’t be wrong.

The Stanislaus County Fair welcomed that many visitors last year and it expects that many this year, if not more, will pass through its gates to take part in the fun once again. The annual celebration of all things agriculture – not to mention live music, motor sports, carnival rides and food on a stick – returns for its 10-day run starting July 11.

As in years past, the live entertainment will include a series of free concerts at the Bud Light Variety Free Stage, with largely ticketed events at the FoodMaxx Arena. The offerings range from country music greats to Spanish-language favorites and good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll.

“It’s going to be amazing. They are all going to be great shows and fully packed,” fair spokeswoman Adrenna Alkhas said.

The free concerts kick off opening night with country superstar Wynonna, who returns to the fair after a packed-house performance in 2000. Alkhas said each night’s headliner should bring in a different crowd.

The rest of the shows will feature classic-rock act Kansas on July 12, Mexican group Banda Machos on July 13, country singer Rodney Atkins on July 14, funk group Kool and the Gang on July 15, “X-Factor” group Fifth Harmony on July 16, 1980s rockers Loverboy on July 17, American rockers Three Dog Night on July 18, hard-charging Joan Jett & the Blackhearts on July 19 and Latin Spirit Award Winner Ezequiel Peña on July 20.

All the free concerts begin at 8:30 p.m. There also will be free live music each day at the MillerCoors Center Stage and Community Stage in the fairgrounds. Those stages will feature a variety of local musicians and area performers.

As in years past, the fair will have a full carnival and outdoor farmers market. Back for a second year is the popular Wizard’s Challenge interactive exhibit. Last year, 150,000 people young and old went through the attraction, which melds science and fantasy elements.

New this year will be the ReCharge Modesto Toyota Lounge. The free feature will give people the opportunity to relax and power up their mobile devices at charging stations. The lounge will be open throughout the fair’s run. “I went to a conference and there were charging stations everywhere and I thought, ‘We need to do this at the fair,’ ” Alkhas said. “Sometimes here your phone runs out of batteries because you’re taking photos, videos with friends. So why not recharge yourself and your phone at the same time?”

Another sign of high-tech times at the fair is its partnership with the app-based rideshare program Uber. Fair guests who download the Uber app can receive $25 off their first ride using the code “FAIR14.” All those who use the code also will be entered into a drawing to meet Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Returning riders can use the code “StanCoFair” to receive a 20 percent discount on their Uber fare.

“It gives people some more convenience and a safer way to get home or come to the fair without having to worry about parking,” Alkhas said. “Whether you’re coming from Merced, Modesto, Stockton areas, we’re promoting this all through the region.”

The fair also offers a series of discounts and promotions based on the night. Both Sundays of the fair are “Free till 3 p.m.” The fair also has a free app that can be downloaded with general information, schedules, discounts and more.

New at the FoodMaxx Arena will be an expanded CCPRA Rodeo, which will now stretch over two nights. Other always-popular events will be the two nights of demolition derby, monster trucks, motocross and more. Tickets for most shows range from $8-$10. Most of the rodeo events are free, and only reserved seats for the rodeo finals will require a $5 admission ($2 for children 3-12).

The final night at the arena also will bring something new – a laser spectacular set to the music of the Beatles. Alkhas said adding a laser light show was another way to mix things up at the 103rd annual event.

“We wanted to do something different in the arena, something that would entice people to come, something different we’ve never had at the fair,” she said. “So we thought a laser light show.”