Madera Fair prepares for a ‘normal’ run


Courtesy of The Madera District Fair

Barbara Leach, left, and Patty Manfredi of the Madera District Fair congratulate Stan Nelson, center, Don Nelson and Gary George, right, of Midland Tractor on being recipients of the Western Fair Blue Ribbon.

 

The Madera District Fair had a better than expected run last year and hopes for an even more impressive run this year without any COVID-19 restrictions.


“Last year, we had an incredible year given we were in a weird season of COVID,” said Barbary Leach, Madera Fair Events Coordinator. “We were surprised with the response. We knew everyone was antsy to do something. Coming into 2022, much is the same. It’s so normal that what we did in 2021 was in the lens of COVID. We are still getting our fair legs under us.”


However, with the temperatures hitting more than 110 degrees, Leach is hoping her crew can battle through it to get everything ready for Thursday’s Opening Day.


“With the heat coming, that’s putting a change in our planning and final preparations,” she said. “We have had a tremendous response from everyone.”


With Opening Day right around the corner, Leach is ready for the onslaught of fairgoers, especially since Opening Night is free entry for everyone.


“Thursday, the gate is entirely free. Kids, 12 and under, are free for the entirety of the fair,” Leach said. “That’s new. We’re expecting to see an increase in attendance. If you can come free one night, you can pay to come another night.”


In addition to the many activities within the fair, Leach and CEO Tom Mitchell awarded two groups with the Western Fair Association Blue Ribbon awards.


“Annually at the fair, we recognize community members, our partners,” Leach said. “We take into consideration partners, businesses who have been a support to the fair.”


This year, the Madera Fair will be honoring Midland Tractor and MadTown Robotics.


“We recognized Midland Tractor for their years of support and service to the Madera Fair, both throughout the year, during the fair and during the livestock auction,” Leach said. “MadTown Robotics has been with the fair for a long time. Most recently, the development of TechTown and what space has turned out to be as a platform for them as well as something really engaging for our community.”


Another added feature to the fair is the Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest, which will be judged live in the Home Arts Building on Thursday.


“That’s gotten a huge response,” Leach said. “We got a mom and daughter entered. The story is that every year, they battle internally. So, they are bringing it to the fair to see who truly wins. That’s a new food contest to go along with our traditional ones — cupcakes, barbecue ribs, homemade pies and salsa. Those are always fun to watch.”


In addition, Thursday, the Fair will honor educators with a Salute to Education, sponsored by the Madera Chamber of Commerce and the Educational Employees Credit Union.


“They will recognize distinguished teachers,” Leach said. “In the history of the event, not everyone knew when it was. When you put it out in public for people to see, they realize it’s been ongoing. It’s a great space for it.”


Of course, it wouldn’t be the fair without great entertainment and this year’s fair has some headliner acts with country music superstar Rodney Atkins on Friday and the iconic Beach Boys on Saturday.


“We’re expecting Saturday night with the Beach Boys to be crowded on the grounds. It’s probably one of the most iconic bands that we’ve had at the fair,” Leach said.


In addition, there will be many other great entertainment acts, including many tribute bans on the 20/30 stage.


“We don’t really get the opportunity to give the other stage the play it deserves,” Leach said. “We have quality entertainment over there. We have Violin on Fire with Patrick Contreras. We have a Garth Brooks tribute band on Thursday. We have an Eagles tribute band on Friday. On Saturday, we will have Kings of Queens, a Queens tribute band. We have a Valley local, the Josh Day band. They do country covers and some originals. We had them last year. We’ve added a dance floor and a shade structure to that stage so we’re anticipating to build a crowd in that space.”


Also, many of the traditional on-the-ground fair entertainers will be there to bring fun to the fair.


“All of our traditional entertainers are back,” Leach said. “Our favorite magician, Frank is back. Mark Wilder will be here. Albert, the balloonist, who is a Maderan, is back. Captain Jack Spareribs with his pirate ship will be here. There’s a familiarity that we find is more comforting. There is good entertainment on the grounds.”


The Fair will also hold a flag ceremony on Sunday to honor 9/11 and the beam that was brought in from the Twin Towers.


“We have the Patriotic Patio where we’ll have the 9/11 beam on display. We will do a memorial on 9/11. We will have colors presented by the VFW and Boy Scouts,” Leach said.


Many young adults will be glad to note that the fair has also expanded the grounds for Midway to come in to bring in more rides and carnival entertainment.


“We have taken some fences down to give them more room and we’ll bring in more rides,” Leach said. “We will have three Ferris wheels on our grounds this year.”


With everything going on, it’s hard for Leach and her staff to stop and take a breath because they are still planning right until Opening Night at 5 p.m.


“There is still a little, ‘How do we do this?’” she said.


The Madera Fair opens on Thursday and runs through Sunday. Gate admissions during the fair will be $15 for adults over 13 years of age and $10 for seniors; kids 12 years old and younger are free when accompanied by an adult.