County Fair readies for ‘Biggest Show In Town’

By JONATHAN WHITAKER
April 12, 2018

The lead up to this year’s Merced County Fair is in full swing as staff, managers and promoters prepare for what is appropriately billed as the “Biggest Show In Town.”

“We are excited about setting up as the weather warms up,” says Teresa Burrola, CEO of the fair. “It makes us realize we are less than 60 days to fair time. We are counting on Mother Nature because we have been blessed with pleasant conditions for the past two years.”

Advance, discounted ticket sales have begun for the 127th edition of the Merced County Fair that starts on June 6 and runs through June 10.

Meanwhile, Burrola is reminding community members to enter their livestock and competitive exhibits. Exhibit handbooks are available online now (mercedcountyfair.com) or at the fair administration office, 900 MLK Jr. Way in Merced, and the deadline for most entries is Thursday, May 3 at 5 p.m.

Incredibly, and unlike any other local event, the fair features more than 200 competitive divisions and categories featured in the Livestock and Still Competitive exhibits. By the way, the big Arts Pavilion will now feature everything it has in past years — photography, paintings, sketches, pottery and more — PLUS, home brews to tasty treats and table setting, as well as everyone’s favorite “Day Of” contests.

From arts and crafts to the FFA and 4-H show pigs, the exhibits are always a big draw viewed by tens of thousands of fairgoers. And there’s been record-breaking attendance over the past few years, with more than 72,300 people going through the gates last year.

Of course, the outdoor Table Mountain Concert Series — all FREE with paid fair admission — grabs a lot of the attention. Every night will feature a spectacular, family-friendly show, and the series offers plenty of diversity for all to enjoy. Opening night on Wednesday, June 6, will feature an explosive R&B performance by Uptown Funk — the Bruno Mars Tribute, featuring songs such as “Locked Out Of Heaven” and “Just The Way You Are.”

This will be followed on Thursday, June 7, by country music star Mark Chesnutt who sings such hits as “"Bubba Shot the Jukebox," "It Sure is Monday" and "It's a Little Too Late.”

CEO Burrola says she was especially excited to sign R&B superstar and “The Queen of Percussion” Sheila E for the Friday, June 8, performance. Sheila E’s top hits include "The Belle of St. Mark," "Sister Fate," and “A Love Bizarre.”

One group that garnered a lot of attention last year — Moonshine Bandits — will return to perform on Saturday, June 9. With four of their six albums on the top country albums charts, and two of their albums on the top rap charts, you can expect to hear their unique blend of country-rap music with songs like "Throwdown" and "Outback.” What’s great about the Bandits, is they hail from Los Banos, and bring a lot of passionate local fans to the show.

Sunday, June 10, will feature Selena — The Ultimate Tribute, a show that will bring back great memories of the beloved Tejano music star who died tragically 23 years ago. The talented Karla Perez will be singing such favorites as “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Dreaming of You,” and “Como la Flor.”

Speaking of Sunday, June 10, Burrola notes that the “Gran Jaripeo” is back at the Grandstand for the first time in years! Sunday at the fair always has a Latino and Mexican-American flair, and the Gran Jaripeo is no exception, featuring traditional bull riding, dancing horses, and Banda music.

But that’s just Sunday. The Grandstand is sure to be the place to be for high energy, fast-paced entertainment throughout fair, with Auto Racing on June 6, the Monster Trucks Show on June 7, the Tractor Pullers on June 8, and the Humpz & Hornz bull riding cowboys on June 9. There is a $5 admission for these events, but kids 5 and under are FREE.

General admission to the fair itself remains unbelievably affordable in this day and age, and considering all that’s included, it’s the biggest bang for your buck in the region. During the fair, it’s only $9 for adults, and $5 for kids 6-12, along with economy family packages.

Nevertheless, families can take advantage now with pre-fair savings offers that includes discounted entry tickets, 5-Pack admission tickets and unlimited carnival ride wristbands. Go online to mercedcountyfair.com to find out more details. Also, starting May 23, you can find discounted tickets and wristbands at participating O’Reilly Auto Parts and Rancho San Miguel Markets in the Merced area.

If that were not enough, don’t forget the “fair-time” savings for “Senior’s Day” on opening night — also known as “Mercy Medical Center We Care Wednesday.” Seniors 62 and better will get in FREE. Or, on the same night, you can bring in 5 cans of food and contribute to the Community Food Drive, and get in FREE too! And, June 7, is Kids’ Day. That means every kid 12 and under gets in FREE with a paid adult admission. Remember: Children 5 and under are always free.

Finally, fairgoers will notice some new attractions as they approach and enter the fairgrounds this year. • You can expect to see spotlights light up the Merced sky like a big Hollywood movie premiere welcoming you to the “Biggest Show in Town.”

• Don’t miss the new Discovering Science Exhibit featuring Puzzlemania. This NEW Exhibit can be found in the old Home Arts Exhibit Building and will feature STEAM-based learning. This educational approach to learning uses Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Puzzlemania will have a variety of skill leveled brain teasers, puzzles and games for the whole family. And yes … it’s all FREE with admission.

• During the fair, there will be many different and fun characters strolling the grounds. New this year are the characters of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol. Led by a boy named Ryder, the characters from this show are a pack of search and rescue dogs who work together on missions to protect the community of “Adventure Bay.” These larger than life characters will be available for spontaneous family photos.

For more info on all things at the County Fair, go online to MercedCountyFair.com or call 722-1506.


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