Hungry for some chicken kabobs? Or maybe funnel cake, roasted corn, barbecue ribs or polish sausage is more your thing. Whatever your taste buds are in the mood for, you likely can find it at the Merced County Fair.
The 123rd annual fair opens its gates today at 5 p.m. and run through Sunday.
Fair officials said volunteers and participants will work up to opening hour to bring together all the finishing touches. As of Tuesday afternoon, all preparations were on track, and no changes had been made to the schedule of events, according to Diane Conway, Merced County Fair marketing manager.
This year’s theme is “Saluting Our Farmers and Ranchers.” Merced County Certified Farmers Market growers will be present daily to offer samples of their products.
Conway said fairgoers can expect to find something for people of all ages and interests.
For those seeking a thrill, the fair has a number of rides, including the popular Zipper ride, the new Footloose ride, which turns riders upside down, and Vertigo, a tower ride that takes passengers 100 feet in the air.
Among the rides for children are Wet Boats, which takes them on a circular water path; Roadsters, a classic cars ride; and the obstacle course Jungle of Fun.
Tonight’s entertainment headliner is contemporary Christian artist Lincoln Brewster. That’s in addition to an antique tractor parade and a performance by Belly Dance Merced.
A fireworks show is scheduled for 10 p.m.
Conway encourages attendees to take advantage of each night’s promotions. Tonight all seniors ages 65 and older will receive free admission. Tomorrow all children 12 and under get in for free, and on Sunday everyone who comes before 3 p.m. gets in free.
Tomorrow’s main events include a performance by Southern rockers the Marshall Tucker Band and an auto race and jet car show, in which a vehicle is incinerated.
Gates open earlier on the weekend. Saturday’s events begin at 3 p.m. and Sunday’s closing day festivities start at noon.
Last year, about 70,000 people attended the fair throughout its run, according to Conway. She hopes this year’s attendance will surpass that number.
Temperatures seem to be on the organizers’ side. The triple-digit heat wave experienced in the past few days is expected to drop to the low 90s. According to the National Weather Service, Friday will be the coolest day with a high of 91.
General admission is $5. Grandstand entertainment events, including the auto races and bull riding, have a separate charge. To purchase tickets online or for a full schedule of events, visit the fair’s website at www.mercedcountyfair.com.