Fair Share of Fun
By Noel Daniel
For many in the Central Valley, the Stanislaus County Fair is a longstanding tradition. Strolling along the midway with a cob of corn and an unlimited ride wristband is a very familiar memory to many children and adults alike.
But this fair has a history that extends back even further than many remember.
In 1911, the Turlock Melon Carnival took place for the first time, sponsored by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce. It’s hard to picture, but Turlock was once known for its melons back in a time when the water table was far different than now. In an effort to promote and market the booming local melon industry and shipping business, the Carnival took shape. There was even a group of musicians called the Melon City Band.
Since then, the fair has only grown, getting better and better with every passing year. Standing at the head of so much of the fair’s changes is none other than one of Turlock’s biggest community advocates, Adrenna Alkhas, and CEO Matt Cranford.
Cranford spearheads a considerable amount of the fair’s modern changes, and Alkhas assists, training her expert marketing staff and watching them blossom just as rapidly as the fair does.
“My proudest achievement is being able to train staff members in marketing and watching them grow in their careers,” said Alkhas. “The majority of my former staff members have gone on to work for high profile companies such as Disney or Gallo Winery. Having been even a little part of their growth is a proud moment for me.”
And it’s not just the employees who are impacted by the fair. Changes have also been instated that help the community in a variety of ways. One of those changes is the Free ‘Till Three promotion, where guests who cannot afford to come to the fair have a chance to get in with no charge until 3 p.m. In fact, there are many ways to save at the fair—whether through the free shuttle program or through buying tickets at Costco and Save Mart, they try to keep the fair affordable for the whole community.
“Another way we have contributed to the community is by bringing over 200,000 visitors to Turlock which boosts the economic engine for the town,” said Alkhas. “For example, we close all alcohol sales at 10 p.m. Not only do some guests leave the Fair and spend their time in downtown Turlock, but it gives a chance for families with kids to stay longer.”
There have also been some great changes in the livestock area thanks to the Friends of the Fair foundation. When Associated Feed donated their money to restore the livestock facility, it brought in bigger and better cooling system for the animals and created a better facility for families. And this year saw a special visitor to the barnyard: Dennis Quaid, who adopted a pot bellied pig for his kids.
“He told the staff working in 4H Farmyard that he would be back to donate to 4H and wanted to take home the pig,” said Alkhas. “After his concert on July 22 and after his Meet-n-Greet, he went over to the 4H Farmyard. The staff was waiting for him with a pot bellied pig and he donated an undisclosed amount of money to 4H.
“We have many stories like these throughout the years at the Fair. Good people making things happen for others! The fair brings out the best in people and we have been doing that for over 160 years at Stanislaus County Fair.”
It’s not just Quaid that showed up at the fair, but countless other performers. There’s a preponderance of local acts that show up, especially after the fair’s partnership with ModestoView’s MAMAs.
“We need celebrate and showcase our local talent and what better way than to partner with ModestoView,” said Alkhas. “We also have the Community Stage that brings in dancing and demonstrations from various cultures as well as talented singers.”
It’s not just the stages that have local talent—it’s the arenas, too. The FoodMaxx Arena pulls in local derby drivers and motorcycle jumpers that entertain for days. Then there are the vendor booths, full of delicious food, crafts, and nonprofits. From the American Legion and Assyrian American Civic Club booths, to the Knights of Columbus and United Samaritans, there are many represented nonprofits.
There’s also the Forcados Luso-Americanos, who bring the Oyster booth. They not only raise funds for their club, but partner with a family in need who needs medical help. Part of the proceeds from this year’s sales went to David Delgado, who was injured in a football accident and is paralyzed.
From melons to pot bellied miracles, the Stanislaus County Fair has come a long way and made a huge impact. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.
For more information, visit www.stancofair.com.