Camels and motorcycles and dinosaurs, oh my.
The Stanislaus County Fair opens its 10-day run Friday with a plethora of new attractions and plenty of old favorites. More than 200,000 people are expected to stream through the gates of the annual agriculture expo to enjoy amusement park rides, free concerts, arena spectacles and more.
This year’s new attractions include the Dinomania Exhibit, with an animatronic T-Rex and other prehistoric predators, and the high-flying Smage Brothers Motorcycle Jumpers doing tricks on two wheels — and sometimes just one.
“We have an exciting fair planned with some new things this year,” Fair Board President Bill Mattos said.
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This year’s concert headliners on the Bud Light Variety Free Stage include country acts like John Michael Montgomery, who opens the fair, old-school hip-hop from Salt-N-Pepa, and rockers Lifehouse and Blue Oyster Cult. Shows start at 8:30 p.m. each night and are included in fair admission.
Getting to the fair this year has changed a little, as well. Parking is available as always at the fairground’s west lot on Soderquist Road and north lot on Fulkerth Road for $8 per vehicle. For those wanting to catch a ride, instead of the free dedicated shuttles to the fair this year, complimentary transportation will be provided by Turlock Transit.
The bus will be free for all routes during the fair. Those hoping to park-and-ride are invited to leave their cars at Lot 2 at California State University, Stanislaus, and then take Route 2 on the bus to the fair. The drop-off and pick-up point from the fairgrounds will be at Soderquist and Fulkerth near the livestock entrance gate.
Fair spokeswoman Adrenna Alkhas said the decision to end the dedicated free shuttles, which about 15,000 people used each year, was a financial one. The fair had provided the service for about a decade.
“We really wanted to partner with the city of Turlock and still be able to provide everyone some form of free transportation,” she said.
The always popular 4-H Experience exhibit takes a summer safari this year. In addition to the usual assortment of pigs, cows, goats and other barnyard animals on display, more exotic animals like two camels, a zebra and a zedonk (a cross between a donkey and a zebra) will let people get up close and personal.
The midway opens at 5 p.m. weekdays and at noon Saturday and Sunday and offers rides that spin, swoop and speed through to midnight each night. Some of the new rides this year include the Super Shot Drop Tower (a 90-foot vertical drop) and Shake Up (which turns you upside down and all around, so empty your pockets).
Each night, the FoodMaxx Arena will feature everything from tractor pulls to the Destruction Derby and rodeo. And be on the lookout for cowgirl on stilts Lucky Starr and Sterling the Bubblesmith, new entertainers who will be roaming the grounds throughout the fair.