The folks who run the California State Fair are racing to get ready for Thursday's opening while hoping for cool breezes.
"We're in the outdoor gambling business; we have to rely on what the weather brings us," said Norb Bartosik, Cal Expo CEO and general manager.
If mild temperatures prevail, he said the fair may be able to attract 800,000 visitors, a level it hasn't reached since 2006.
Paid attendance has risen each of the past two years, reversing nearly a decade of decline. This is the third year that the fair will run in July when most kids are out of school rather than starting in mid-August and lasting until Labor Day. It's a move that Bartosik deemed a success.
"School's out, and I think there's also something in the back of all our minds that says, 'It's a tough economy, we can't take the big vacation, the kids are out of school, the State Fair's open, let's go there.' " Bartosik said.
Once again, the State Fair is offering big discounts to people who buy their tickets by Wednesday. Packages are available at the State Fair box office or online at www.bigfun.org. Costco members also can buy the $27.99 State Fair Fun Pack at nine locations.