Every summer the Valley gets a little smaller. This phenomenon is not caused by a rip in the space-time continuum or is it a matter of geographical wonder — it’s called fair time.
In 2013, an estimated 229,000 people made their way to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds to visit the fair during its 10-day run — that’s three and half times the normal population of Turlock. The sheer number of fairgoers is a sight to see, but a crowded fairgrounds isn’t what's most amazing.
In a past street survey, more than half of the people who were asked what their favorite part of the fair is said visiting with friends. It is not uncommon at the fair to run into old school mates, extended family members and your mail carrier — all in one night.
Because of its appeal to young and old and those with varied interests, the fair is the ultimate gathering place. Some might say that we now have social media as a universal gathering place. One hundred years ago, the 10 days of the fair might have been the only way to reconnect with old friends. But today, one only needs to visit Facebook and within minutes you can be reunited with everyone in your high school graduating class.
It’s true that social media has made reunions of all kinds just a few clicks away, but seeing someone face to face and sharing in the experience of the fair creates bonds that no computer screen can emulate.
The fair is also where people with like interests can meet for the first time. Sitting in the stands next to you during the demolition derby could be your next best friend, or boyfriend. After the apple pie competition is judged, those whose passion is baking might just strike up a life-long friendship or find a new culinary partner. If you have two antique tractors sitting in your garage, then the fair is definitely the place for a little gear talk.
The fair is also the best place to make lasting family memories. Where the sight of multi-generations enjoying the same event may be rare in society today, the tradition of the fair often brings both the young and old together — at least for the day.
This cherished summer tradition has been under attack over the past few years, as state budget cuts hit county fairs hard. Whereas many fairs had to close or drastically cut back on their runs and offerings, the Stanislaus County Fair has prospered.
"It's a testament to the community, fair board and staff that the Stanislaus County Fair is able to continue their strong tradition of agriculture, entertainment, education and community participation. When state funding was eliminated three years ago, the board and staff analyzed all fair programs, reducing costs and investigating new revenue streams. In spite of the funding issues, the fair developed a strong organizational plan, operating less like a state agency and more like a medium sized business. The continued success of our fair, as well as all other California fairs, will be directly proportionate to the support we all receive from their respective communities. Stanislaus County cares about its fair, and that care is on full display during the annual ten day event," said Stanislaus County Fair CEO Chris Borovansky.
The 2014 Stanislaus County FairWHEN:
July 11 -20WHERE:
900 N. Broadway, TurlockTICKETS:
Discounted Fair admission tickets of $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors are on sale now at www.stancofair.com.