Merced County Spring Fair opens today in Los Banos

LOS BANOS -- The Merced County Spring Fair opens today at the Los Banos Fairgrounds, 403 F St.

In its 119th year, the fair will run through Sunday.

The local FFA chapters and 4-H organizations will begin their swine and lamb presentations at 9 a.m.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars No. 2487 and American Legion Post No. 166 will officially open the fair with a flag raising at 10 a.m.

The midway opens at 3 p.m., along with the Tiny Princess contest, giving another young girl her dream tiara on the outdoor stage.

The motocross races start at 7 p.m. in the Corona/Corona Light Arena, and the '60s Summer of Love group will perform at 8 p.m.

Food contests -- salsa, cookies, pasta, cheesecake and others -- will be part of the event's five-day run.

Pictures and various other art forms from local residents can be seen during the fair.

Then there's the local entertainment. On Thursday and Friday dance studios from the Los Banos area will hold midday performances. The country group Second Wind will play Friday, and the Jason Michael band has a Saturday time slot.

The fair holds a special place in Los Banos' history.

What started as a celebratory May Day picnic, attributed to town founder Henry Miller's honoring of the railroad completion, has grown into a countywide event more than 60,000 guests visited last year.

Adult day passes for the fair are $7 at the fair and youth, 6 to 12, are admitted for $2. Children under 5 get in for free.

In addition, hoping to help the local community and boost depleted food banks, the Merced County Spring Fair will offer $3 admission to fairgoers who bring a can of food to the fair gates before 6 p.m. on April 29 or KABX Oldies Day on Thursday, a savings of $4.

"We hope to inspire the public and to serve as a good excuse for individuals to donate to our depleted food banks," said Fair Manager Ron Brandt. "Being an integral part of our community, it seemed like the right thing to do in these tough economic times."

Fair officials said to bring your item to the Merced County Spring Fair Main Gate at 403 F St. any time before 6 p.m. and you'll get the discounted admission.

Most needed items are meals in a can (stew, chili, soup), tuna/canned meat, peanut butter, canned foods with pop-top lids, low sugar cereals, 100 percent fruit juices in single serving boxes, canned fruit packed in its own juice and low-salt canned vegetables. Please do not donate items packaged in glass or bulk quantities of rice, flour or sugar.