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Wine, carnivals, music; Where to celebrate July in the Modesto, Mother Lode regions

The thick of summer is upon us.

Sure, a lot of people are off on vacations, but others are looking for ways to spend their weekends and warm evenings closer to home. Groups in the Modesto and Mother Lode regions have plenty of places and plans for those latter folks to enjoy.

Of course, July also brings along the biggest blowout of summer, Independence Day, with its many community celebrations. Check our story that ran Thursday, July 27, in The Bee for a look at where and when you can honor the nation locally.

Meanwhile, fairs and festivals will mark everything from music to wine to the culture of Fiji. July also brings the return of the Stanislaus County Fair. Here’s a look at some of the month’s major events:

Mother Lode Fair – July 4-7: This year’s expo includes a demolition derby and truck & tractor pulls with fireworks after the motor shows. Among the concert performers will be Jennifer Grant, Bonnie Bishop, Paul Thorn and more. 3 to 11 p.m. Thursday; 3 p.m. to to midnight Friday-Saturday; 3 to 11 p.m. Sunday. 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora. $10 admission, $5 age 6-12, free age 5 and under. www.motherlodefair.org.

Sierra Nevada Arts & Crafts Festival – July 6-7: The 46th annual celebration features booths of crafts, art and food to sample. Music by The Magnolia Rhythm Trio. Pancake breakfast held both days, 7:30 to 11 a.m., $5-$9. The annual Ebbett’s Pass Independence Day Parade will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, adjacent to the festival. The festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A tri-tip barbecue with live music will be held Saturday evening from 5 to 9 p.m. The festival is on the grounds of Bristol’s Ranch House Cafe at 961 Highway 4, downtown Arnold. Free. 925-372-8961.

Cortez Obon Festival – July 6: Japanese American festival featuring live performances by Yoko Fujimoto and P.J. Hirabayashi, taiko drumming, bon odori dancing and more. The farming community of Cortez was one of the original Japanese settlements in the 1900s and this year marks its 100th anniversary. Dinner 5 p.m.; festival 7 p.m. Cortez Buddhist Church, 12985 Cortez Ave., Turlock. 209-535-6523.

Stanislaus County Fair – July 12-21: Annual county fair featuring agriculture exhibits, midway, entertainment, motorsports, rodeo and more. Entertainment includes Blood, Sweat & Tears, TLC, Clay Walker, Marshall Tucker Band, 98 Degrees and more. Weekdays, 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to midnight. Stanislaus County Fairground, 900 N. Broadway, Turlock. $7-$12 gate admission, free age 6 and under; some events have an additional cost. www.stancofair.com.

Twain Harte Summer Art & Wine Festival – July 27-28: The 41st annual street festival will be the final one put on by the retiring Fire on the Mountain producers. This year’s fest features crafts, a variety of artists, wine, food and live entertainment. Performers include Tom Rigney and Flambeau, The Brothers Strong and Comedy Industries. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Downtown Twain Harte. Free. www.fireonthemountain.com.

Wines in the Pines – July 27: Held in conjunction with the Twain Harte Summer Art & Wine Festival above, this event features wine tasting and food. Music by Jana and Leroy. Noon to 4 p.m. Twain Harte Chamber of Commerce, 23000 Meadow Lane. $25 for age 21-and-over-only event. www.twainhartecc.com.

Modesto Fiji Festival — July 27: This cultural festival features a beer garden, food and retail vendors, kids zone and more. When the sun sets the tiki torches come out to bring the island feel for dancing under the stars with a live DJ. 2 to 11 p.m. St. Stanislaus School, 1416 Maze Blvd. Modesto. 209-602-9644.

Pat Clark covers entertainment and other stories for The Modesto Bee. She attended California State University, Stanislaus, and grew up in Modesto.
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