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150 Years Fair Time Is Fun Time
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The San Joaquin County Fair began in 1860 and is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, with the theme, "Celebrating 150 Years of Good Times."

The first fair was a four-day event held in Hunter Square, Stockton with the purpose of protecting local agricultural and mechanical interests, according to information provided by fair officials. This year's fair starts today, Wednesday, June 16 and runs through Sunday, June 20 and is the scene for entertainment, horse racing, exhibit halls and junior livestock programs.

Fairgoers will be able to relax and cool off in the shade in the new Community Cool Zone as well.

"It's a shaded area with free activities for young kids," said Lea Isetti, marketing director for the San Joaquin County Fair.

Activities include crafts, water activities and a sandbox to dig for trinkets.

Another way to cool off at the fair is to visit the exhibit building and admire the items entered into competition from community members.

Entries, which range from woodwork to photography, canned items to baked goods, are entered by not only youth, but by adult competitors as well.

Also new to the fair this year is a community garden project. The fair partnered with a local organization to do backyard gardens. There are multiple plots, which serve as examples of what you would need to create various gardens at home. For example, plots might demonstrate what is necessary for a salsa or herb garden, Isetti explained.

Making a comeback at the 2010 fair, after not having one for the past four years, is the Community Stage.

"It's an opportunity to highlight local talent," Isetti said.

Elsewhere, on the Health Plan of San Joaquin Main Stage, various performers will put on concerts daily starting at 8 p.m. with first come, first served seating.

This year's Main Stage performers include: Wednesday, Jose Feliciano; Thursday, Sawyer Brown; Friday, Kool & The Gang; Saturday, Tower of Power; Sunday, Lupillo Rivera.

After the concert on Friday, June 18, there will be a fireworks display.

The price of admission to the fair is $9 for adults and $5 for children.

For the price of admission, attendees get into the concerts, horse races and get to see the ground acts, such as puppets and a hypnotist.

"It's valuable family entertainment," Isetti explained.

Also new to the fair is Johnston Amusements. The company is bringing 38 large rides and lots of kiddie rides, along with 14 games to the fair.

"They have been really great to work with," Isetti said.

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 466-5041 and online at

In honor of its 150th year, every day the first 150 people through the gates will get in free. On Thursday, June 17, kids and seniors get in free all day. The fair opens each day at noon.

Isetti said it is an honor to celebrate the fair with the community because it is the community's fair. She also noted that the fair adds to the local economy by bringing summer employees in to assist with putting on the fair and they in turn spend money in the area.

Escalon will be well represented at this year's fair. The Escalon FFA chapter has about 100 exhibitors and local 4-H groups will have approximately 75 participants.

Times intern Krista Anderson contributed to this story.