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Ground acts to provide fair entertainment

Courtesy of the Madera District Fair

New this year to the fair, the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs have been making headlines since their beginning in 1987.


Madera District Fair kicks off today at 5 p.m. General admission tickets for ages 12 and older is $10, Seniors 62 and older and children 6-12 are $5 at the gate.

Opening day is Community Day where kids, 12 and younger and seniors 62 and older enjoy free admission. Honoring America’s heroes, all active or retired military with proper ID are invited to opening night of the fair at no charge.

Starting off the four-day fun-fest opening ceremonies will be the presenting of the colors conducted by VFW Post 1981 of Madera and staged at the main gate at 5 p.m. Thursday. Local student, 9-year-old Annaiya Franco, will sing the national anthem following the flag salute.

This year the festival style concerts are free with paid fair admission. Additional bleachers have been added to the venue with camp chairs for rent at $5 a night.

Throughout the grounds free family entertainment will be performed daily. At Lumber Town near the front gates old school meets modern technology with exhibitions featuring the latest in robotics and virtual reality. Electronic charging stations at tables and chairs allow patrons to take a break while charging their cell phones, tablets and other gadgets.

Visit with Albert the Amazing as he creates balloon sculptures that are clever, colorful and free. He can make almost anything by request to include animals, birds and hats. See him strolling the grounds of the fair.

Magician Frank Thurston of Bakersfield brings his family comedy magic to the Madera fair. Known as the “Bakersfield Magician,” he has performed for more than 30 years working private parties, fairs, school assemblies and corporate events. He is a longtime performing member of the Hollywood Magic Castle. Voted Kern County’s favorite magician and balloon sculptor since 1984, he proudly claims the title of Bakersfield’s best magician.

Circus Imagination is a second-generation family owned business. In 1985 Greg Hegwer and Criss Raintree followed their dreams to run-away and join the circus. They traveled the country spreading joy by performing their circus acts to children of all ages. Now their son Caton Hegwer wears the ringmaster’s hat, keeping the family tradition alive. His wife, costume designer Carolina Raintree-Hegwer, joins him to make the impromptu theater of Circus Imagination. This unforgettable experience will delight children ages 3 and up.

The popular Safety Zone makes a return engagement with its tent on the parking lot adjacent to the livestock barns. Meet the first responders from throughout Madera county to include Madera Police Department, Calfire, Sheriff, CHP, Probation, Crimestoppers and California State Parks Millerton Lake. Get an up close look at the vehicles and equipment that makes their life-saving work possible.

Hypnotist Kellie Karl performs two shows nightly on the grounds. Be amazed watching her fun, fresh and audience friendly hypnosis act. They are hilarious. Her show features audience members and the amazing power of their subconscious minds. See the audience volunteers transform into the hypnotized and mesmerized stars of the show. Her unique blend of comedy and hypnotic skills has mesmerized her audiences while taking her show on the road to rave reviews.

The All-Alaskan Racing Pigs have been making headlines since their beginning in 1987. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner carried a front-page photo and story on the racers on opening day of the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks, Alaska in August of 1987. Since then they have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian, Seattle Times and Post Intelligencer, and many more leading newspapers. TV and radio have covered the athletes extensively, too, both locally and nationally.

Pork-belly laughs are a certain result when the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs pay a visit. You may not think of little porkers when sports is the conversation, but these fuzzy little racers will make you reconsider the meaning of “professional athlete.” And “fast food.”

The 100-yard dash and the 50-yard high hurdles come to life as you have never experienced them before. When the runners have four legs the starts are even more exhilarating. When you carry around plenty of padding, you can bump and grind in the corners even more freely. And when you are a cute little pig, well, you can do just about anything you want. It’s just plain funny.

Each team consists of eight porcine racing machines. Racing four at a time, they typically hit top speeds of over 15 miles per hour. They race flat track and high hurdles during every show. Each show concludes with a championship round and four volunteer rooting section leaders cheering their favorite. Included in every show is a special round just for laughs.

A few trainees are traveling with the team who are learning the ropes and getting ready to start their racing career. If the timing is right, you may be treated to a baby race.

Many other performers will be spread throughout the grounds all four nights. Mario’s Dancing Horses will perform on Sunday only in the horse arena.

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