Merced County Fair’s success demonstrated by numbers

The Merced County Fair is about tradition and family fun, but numbers help reveal the event’s overall success.

Fair officials released a list of “fair fun numbers” recently to demonstrate the growth the fair experienced this time around.

According to the list, the 123rd annual event gathered more than 70,000 people from all across the Valley. The fair also built a larger fan base online, showcased by 5,630 “likes” on its official Facebook page.

Some 565 pigs, lamb and beef were sold at this year’s Junior Livestock Auction, collecting $578,642 in combined sales. The average seller price at the auction was $1,026, an increase from last year’s $891 average.

Food was also a major attraction. Three hundred extra-large pizzas were served by Sharp Concepts Pizzeria, with pepperoni being the crowd favorite. Log Cabin Concessions of Coarsegold sold 2,000 pounds of popcorn, and 360 kangaroo jerky sticks were sold at the Wild Game Jerky of Merced booth. The fair also sold 168 racks of pork ribs.

More than 500 glasses of wine were poured at the Young Farmers and Ranchers presents Vista Ranch and Cellars wine tasting in the Ag Exhibit Building, while at the American Beer Garden, 30 kegs of beer were emptied.

Other “fun numbers” shared by fair officials include: 445 entries recorded at this year’s Grade A Milk Producers’ contest, 650 children rode a pony around the ring at Randy’s Pony rides and 6,000 balloons were popped by darts at the popular Balloon-a-Rama game in Kiddieland.

Fairgoers also had the opportunity to pet one of the 45 animals at the Great American Petting Zoo, including a 7-month-old wallaby, three fallow deer and a 10-day-old Boer goat. Animal lovers also took a peek at Al E. Gator, the 75-year-old Florida alligator who measures 13 feet and tips the scale at 1,000 pounds.

The five-day fair gave many guests the VIP treatment, including a behind-the-scenes tour for 1,300 special-needs kids and adults from convalescent homes, and collected 1,041 pounds of canned food donated by fairgoers to the Merced County Food Bank on opening day.