TURLOCK — Bill Mattos expects to get grief from exhibitors, vendors and families who will have to change their plans next summer to accommodate an earlier Stanislaus County Fair.
"I didn't want to move it at all," said Mattos, a member of the fair board of directors. "My explanation is we didn't do this to ourselves; the state fair forced this on us."
Mattos and the rest of the fair board voted 7-0 Monday to move the fair from its traditional start on the last Friday in July. Director Carlos Estacio was not present for that part of the meeting. The 2010 fair will be July 16-25.
The adjustment was made after the state fair moved its dates, now tentatively set for July 14 through Aug. 1.
The Merced County Fair board moved its event to June in anticipation of the state's action.
The change is affecting other events, as well. Chief Executive Tony Leo said organizers of Modesto's Xclamation Festival have contacted him.
X-Fest promoter Chris Ricci said he would reschedule the concert, now set for July 17, because he doesn't want to compete with the fair.
Fair staff suggested the new dates after its carnival contractor, Butler Amusements, assured officials that it can provide the same level of rides and attractions earlier in July, even though Butler also has a contract with the state fair.
Fair staff members considered some other dates, but some of the vendors and concessionaires had scheduling conflicts with other fairs and events, some of which also changed dates to accommodate the state fair, spokeswoman Pennie Rorex said.
Making the fair later in the year would conflict with school schedules for both students and faculty and staff, many of whom work at the fair each year. And moving it earlier in July brought it too close to the Fourth of July holiday, director Ray Souza said.
Leo said he will talk to state fair officials about changing their competition schedule to accommodate children who want to show animals at both fairs.
"They should have to negotiate," a clearly unhappy Mattos said. "People should be giving their wrath to the state fair."
One possible upside, Estacio later pointed out, is that some entertainment acts booked on a night at the state fair might be persuaded to add a Stanislaus date to their plans.
That won't include longtime fair hypnotist Suzy Haner; she performs nightly at the state fair.
Leo said it's likely the fair will be earlier for the following few years, as well. "I suspect we will be looking at these dates for a while," he said. "I don't think the state is going to want to move it around."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.