The 123rd Merced County Fair is right around the corner, and organizers are hoping to put on the best one yet.
As is tradition, the fair, which will run from June 11-15, will feature live entertainment, food stands and trucks, carnival rides, a petting zoo and parades.
This year’s theme will be “Saluting Our Farmers and Ranchers.” Merced County Certified Farmers Market growers will be present daily to offer samples of their products.
According to event organizers, attendees can expect lots of new events and attractions including an amateur homebrew contest, a barbecue rib contest, a farm junk assemblage sculpture competition and a jet car show.
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A new version of the carnival ride “Footloose,” a zombie haunted house and the kiddie ride “Wet Boats” will also be present at the fair.
Headlining entertainment acts from Thursday to Saturday will appear at 8:30 p.m. in the Outdoor Theatre, where all concerts are free with admission. Christian music artist Lincoln Brewster will perform opening night, while hypnotist Alan Sand will deliver a comedy and magic show at 9:30 p.m. closing night.
Today, the Merced County Fair will team up with BloodSource for a blood drive that will take place from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at the fair’s main gate parking lot, 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, facing the Merced County Fire Station. The first 120 donors will receive tickets good for six free rides at the fair.
General admission is $5. Grandstand entertainment events, including the auto races and bull riding, have a separate admission charge.
Diane Conway, marketing manager at the Merced County Fair, said people can take advantage of several promotions. Some of these include Wednesday’s Seniors Day, in which people 65 or older receive free admission, as well as Thursday’s Kids Day, in which children get into the fair for free.
As a Father’s Day special, admission is free for everyone from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“Hopefully people will take advantage of our promotions, especially if they have a large family, because this really is a bargain and trying to get a good deal on entertainment is hard these days,” Conway said.
Organizers expect a large turnout. Last year, 68,601 people attended the fair.
Fair CEO Tom Musser said he expects the fair to attract people from other areas such as Modesto and Fresno.
“We’re feeling great about it,” Musser said. “We have a lot of great new things for people, and we’ll mostly likely have people coming in from other cities, so that’s exciting. Our team is working on some final touches, but we’re just about ready to get going.”
Tickets can be purchased in advance at the fairgrounds, at Rancho San Miguel Market and on the fair’s website at www.MercedCountyFair.com. Discount tickets and packages will be available until June 10.
A list of events and more information on discounts and deals can also be found on the fair’s website.