Final preparations underway for return of Merced County fair

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- In less than 24 hours, the sounds of setup will be paired with squeals of excitement.

"It's the biggest class reunion Merced County has is what I always say because it's like coming and seeing all of your old friends here," says Merced County Fair Manager Teresa Burrola.

For the first time since 2019, the Merced County Fair is back promising to be bigger and better than ever.

But not without overcoming obstacles.

"We did have to go through staff reductions and trying to hire people back," Burrola said.

The offerings will also be different this year. Several long-time vendors either went out of business or retired, but Burrola says the show must go on.

The grounds will look different as there's been a layout change.

If you're looking for a taste of paradise, this hot spot is sure to cool you off.

Owner Kim Sanders says with the pandemic bringing business to a screeching halt, the return of fair season means she can recoup some of the loss.

"So you go into panic mode and you have to figure out what you're going to do next to survive," she said.

Open since Sunday, the shaved ice booth has had a steady stream of customers as the 4-h and FFA students have been showing their animals and prepping them for auction.

Izabella Ybarra just graduated from Delhi High School.

Though most of her FFA auction showings were virtual because of the pandemic, the program made such an impact, she's going to Modesto Junior College to study animal sciences.

"It was kinda hard when the auction was online," she said. "The auction was hard to get into but now that we're back, it's easy to enjoy it and be able to see everyone I've been showing with the past four years."

During the fair hiatus, the grounds didn't sit empty -- the fairgrounds served as a COVID testing site.

That's been relocated to Merced's public health department.
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