Food, fun, Grand Funk on tap at Stanislaus County Fair

TURLOCK -- As the Stanislaus County Fair gets ready to open at 5 o'clock this evening, the great questions posed by the fair- going public remain:

"Who's playing at the fair this year? Are you going to have new rides? And will you have the mini-doughnuts again?"

Spokeswoman Pennie Rorex had the answers for reporters Thursday at the fair's annual media preview. As carnival workers pieced together rides on the midway, Rorex and the publicity staff talked up the entertainers ranging from Grand Funk Railroad to Dora the Explorer who will perform on fair stages the next 10 days and nights.

Reporters took a spin on the new Wind Surfer ride. A few tried the Giant Slide.

And, yes, Rorex assured the media, mini-doughnuts are back.

To dispel any doubt, proprietors Danny Johnson and Naftuli Furman from Sacramento fried dozens of the small doughnuts at the Danny's Mini Doughnuts booth inside the Costco-sponsored exhibition hall.

The fair's food fixation was on display as vendors stocked shelves with hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, funnel cake batter, fresh fruit and that All-American favorite, egg rolls on a stick.

"We're in the business of helping people have fun," Rorex explained.

The fair's staff of roughly 375 workers, augmented by hundreds of volunteers, will work full-tilt in three shifts each day of the fair.

"It really becomes a family, and you support each other," Rorex said.

Fair executives from chief executive Tony Leo on down do not issue their attendance estimates. But Rorex said a successful fair needs great weather, outstanding entertainment and great publicity.

The weather appears to be cooperating. The forecast for Turlock calls for highs in the low to mid-90s into early next week.

The recession gripping the Northern San Joaquin Valley can be "a plus and a minus in the fair business," Rorex said. Some families may not be able to afford to come to the fair, but others may come instead of traveling to Disneyland.

Rorex stressed that the fair is family- oriented and a great value.

"Come see it," she said. "You've got to see it to believe it."

Bee online editor Dan Day can be reached or 578-2332.

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