Merced County Fair entries' deadline is Thursday, May 12

The Merced County Fair said the deadline for most entry forms is Thursday at 5 p.m. The 120th fair is June 15-19.

This year’s theme is "Saddle Up For Fun," and many of the entry divisions from fine arts to amateur gardens include a class for exhibitors to create an entry inspired by the theme.

The 2011 Merced County Fair Exhibitors’ Handbook, including entry forms, is available at www.MercedCountyFair.com. To go directly to the online exhibitor's handbook use this url, www.MercedCountyFair.com/pages/fair/handbook.html. You can pick up a printed copy, while supplies last, at the fair office, 900 Martin Luther King. Jr. Way. Fair staff are available to help with entry forms during office hours, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The free 80-page handbook contains everything you need to know with easy instructions on how to submit entries in all the fair’s divisions and categories. There are hundreds of possibilities -- including fruit crops, quick breads, holiday decorations, light bulb art, beaded jewelry, woodcarving, alternative art photography, preschool arts and crafts, gardens in a wagon, fabric painting, nursery landscape plants, collections and models.

New to this year’s handbook is the "Amateur Wine Divisions" under Home Arts. The competition is for amateur winemakers who have personally produced wine but aren't in the business of winemaking. There's a division for red wines and white wines and the winemaker doesn't have to grow the grapes used in making the wine.

Another new division under Home Arts is "Gifting For Charity." Exhibitors may enter any article of sewing, quilting or crocheting. After the entries are judged and exhibited at the fair they will be donated to a charity of the fair’s choice.

There's a new division in 4-H Arts and Crafts — a decorated lasso — a loop of rope that's designed to be thrown around a target and tightened. The category is a nod to the fair's "Saddle Up for Fun," horse theme.

The special “Day of” cooking contests are open to any Merced County amateur cook and judging is open to the public. Entry forms can be filled out the day of the contest and your entry admits you, the exhibitor, to the fair free of charge on the contest day. The newest contest is "Biscuits and Gravy" and the other categories are: "Almond Delights," "Chocolate Passion," "Salsa," "Sweet Potato Dish" and "It's The Cheese."

For information, call (209) 722-1507, email to Info@MercedCountyFair.com or fax at (209) 722-3773. Visit www.MercedCountyFair.com and connect on Facebook and Twitter.