MADERA - Even record heat and smoky air could not keep the crowds away from the 2015 Madera District Fair. On Thursday over 4000 people passed through the gates even with temperatures reaching 105 degrees. Many of those guests enjoyed the Marshall Tucker Band on the main stage. Others took in all the free entertainment at the patio stage, the old grandstand stage or were wowed but the new LED lighting decorating all the carnival rides on the Midway of Fun.
The one disappoint was that for the first time ever, the Madera Unified Kids Day at the Fair was cancelled. The annual field trip for all the third graders from the district has in the past, given a chance for kids to learn about agriculture and other educational aspects of the fair. Unfortunately, this year the sky turned a smoky brown and ash from local fires fell all over the valley making it unsafe for the kids to be outside. Hopefully our weather will cooperate more fully next year and Kids Day can be returned.
Even with the smoke hiding the Sun, fair-goers enjoyed a sold out show from country artist Justin Moore. The concert, which was described by attendee Shel Mench as one of the best shows he has even seen at the fair, went off without a hitch. Even after the concert was finished the music kept coming as many of the kids stopped off at the patio stage for a night of karaoke. Fair-goers commented on the fact that they were pleasantly surprised by the level of talent displayed here in Madera.
Saturday's junior livestock auction brought out all of the youth agriculture supporters to bid on the kid's animals, large and small. Members of the local 4H and FFA chapters have been camping at the fair for the last week taking care of their animals, especially challenging during this heat. But the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves now that their hard work is almost completed. Being that Saturday's auction is a terminal auction, this marked the end to the kids current projects and represents the funding needed for the next.
This year the Madera Fair initiated an Instagram photo contest. Over 100 fair-goers submitting their fun fair pictures during the weekend. Being that it was the first year for the contest, there were naturally a few bugs to work out, but by Sunday night over 200 photos were on display in the Woman's World Exhibit Hall. Judging will take place this week and winners will be notified via Instagram when then can pick up their ribbons. If you'd like to see the photos entered this year, just use the hashtag #MaderaFair2015 on Instagram.
Saturday night Cheap Trick showed their fans you are never too old to rock and roll. While sixty-eight year old Rick Nielsen didn't have the three foot vertical leap he once had in the 80's, he still broke out a couple of his trade-mark custom guitars and demonstrated that there's a reason he's known as an expert at playing them. The trio of sexagenarians and Nielsen's own son on drums played many of their B-sides and rarities and still found time to give the fans what they wanted, most of their biggest and best known hits. True fans of Cheap Trick were entertained and some (like myself) brought a younger generation along to experience what we were all so excited about back in the 80's.
Sunday was early-bird Sunday with buy-one-get-one discounts on carnival ride tickets. The crowds started lining up early and the carnival was packed by the early evening. The crowds kept flowing through the gates and by the time Ramon Ayala took the stage the fair grounds was a sea of people. While the final numbers have not been compiled, this year's Sunday night may have set a Sunday night attendance record for the fair.
To all those who participated by submitting entries for the many arts and crafts categories, thank you for helping Madera demonstrate it's talent and creativity. Just a reminder from the Fair Board though, please come back and pick up your submissions. Prize checks for all the winners are already being processed and keep an eye on the fair's Facebook page for more information.
All Photos Copyright Big Valley Media 2015