New animals, attractions to see at the 2019 Stanislaus County Fair
The Stanislaus County Fair wrapped up this year with its second-highest attendance ever.
Some 260,000 people streamed through its gates this year, just shy of its all-time record high of 261,089 attendees in 1989. That 30-year mark came close to falling thanks to a robust concert schedule and other attractions, said fair CEO Matt Cranford. Plus it certainly didn’t hurt that it never broke 100 degrees in Turlock during the fair’s 10-day run from July 12 to July 21.
“I attribute the attendance to a good lineup of music entertainment and weather. For once, we did not have 106 degree days during the fair, which made for great fair evenings,” Cranford said.
This year’s headliners included popular country acts like Clay Walker and Maddie & Tae, boy band throwbacks 98 Degrees and Latino music superstar Roberto Tapia. Other new draws this year included a stingray touching pool and an exotic animal exhibit that included a somewhat controversial live Siberian tiger.
Attendance was up 16 percent from last year, when 230,000 came out for the annual celebration of the area’s agricultural community. The increased attendance also led to increases in both concession and ride sales, up 9 and 2.5 percent respectively from 2018. This year beer sale cutoffs were pushed back to 10:30 p.m., instead of the previous 10 p.m. The fairgrounds closed at midnight every night.
This year’s festivities also featured the surprise appearance of actor Jeff Goldblum, who attended an RV destruction derby event. The “Jurassic Park” and “Thor: Ragnarok” star was at the fairgrounds to film footage for his upcoming National Geographic show called “The Curiosity of Jeff Goldblum.”
While no single-day attendance records were set this year, combined more than 47,000 people took advantage of the fair’s ongoing Free ‘Til 3 p.m. promotion on both Sundays.
However, this year’s fair wasn’t without its hiccups. The Walk in the Wild exhibit, which featured African wildcats, wallabies, and a 4-year-old Siberian tiger, was criticized by some for being exploitative of the wildlife. And on the fair’s final night Sunday, a large brawl broke out that resulted in four Stanislaus County deputies suffering minor injuries and a police horse being punched.
Still, fair staples like the judged exhibits, which saw 30,000 entries, and livestock sales, which were more than $1.3 million, remained strong this year.
“The true mark of a fair’s success is in the positive exhibitor participation and making sure our guests are happy,” said fair spokeswoman Adrenna Alkhas. “Our exhibits program is a staple at our fair going down so many generations of families exhibiting at the fair. We are very proud of our exhibit program and it is what sets us apart from other fairs in the state.”