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County Fair Welcomes Visitors

POSTED July 20, 2011 2:34 a.m.
Complete with rainbow-colored parrots, trundling turtles and slithering snakes, the ever popular Rainforest Adventure exhibit is back, the carnival rides are even more stomach-churning than before, the young farmers’ animal barns include a petting zoo and the stage shows range from circus slapstick such as Jest In Time to country singers like Clint Black.
The Stanislaus County Fair is alive and well in Turlock, celebrating its 100th year and enjoying cooler weather than usual during a 10-day run that ends July 24.
News reporters and photographers were treated to lunch and their usual preview of the attractions on Thursday, July 14 on the eve of opening day and fair officials started it off with a ramble through an 8,000 square foot lush rainforest exhibit where squawking parrots flashed their colors, a baby turtle plodded in the wake of a mother a hundred times its size and snakes wound lovingly around visitors’ necks.
The star performer in a nearby show presented several times a day is a Capuchin monkey that will likely charm youngsters and adults alike with his winsome ways.
Just next door stood a cottage style dollhouse almost the size of a studio apartment, where children can play house to their endless delight, then take time to build something at a free kids ‘make and take’ project sponsored by Lowe’s store. At the tour’s next stop, a new exhibit called California Wetlands tells of the white tailed deer, red-tailed hawks, salmon and other wildlife that can be seen in the state’s parks and areas like the San Joaquin River Refuge and Los Banos Wildlife Area.
Seats at the Jest in Time Circus beneath a colorful tent introduced the media to the comic antics of Topper Todd and Li Zucchini. Within a few minutes they persuaded their small dog to climb a steep stepladder, displayed amazing juggling skills and with a portable wind machine wrapped Zucchini in a cocoon of toilet paper.
The carnival rides offer fun for the thrill-seeking youngsters — and kids at heart — with the new rides including Surf Ride and Hard Rock which throw riders topsy turvy and upside down.
Since this is the fair’s centennial, there is a strong emphasis on history this year. Reporters on media day Thursday were greeted by staff in historical costumes and passed through a tunnel “going back in time” to reach their lunch site that was decorated with antique pictures of bygone fairs.
The fair grew out of a Turlock Melon Carnival that started in 1911. Watermelons were donated by farmers and served free in a big tent. Activities included band music, melon rolling contest, acrobatic contest, baseball games, a parade, horse cart race and a merry-go-round.
The record attendance for the modern-day fair was 261,089 achieved in 1989. Festivities continue daily until Sunday, July 24.
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