“America’s Favorite Fair” just got bigger, savvier, and even more fun. CEO Mike Bradley and his staff are gearing up to bring attendees more bang for their buck for this year’s event, dubbed, “Ole’, it’s Fiesta Time.” Among the annually successful live entertainment lineup are two Hispanic acts featuring new and regionally nostalgic music artists.
“The strategic plan,” said Bradley, “has been to bring the public a spectacular venue with multiple uses – not only during Mid-State Fair, but year-round, and we’re seeing more of that this year.”
One tangible improvement last year, funded by the Fair’s nonprofit Heritage Foundation, was construction of a state-of-the-art, 65,000-square-foot multi-use pavilion with RV hookups. Attached to the Livestock Pavilion, the facility now provides 95,000 square feet of covered space, and complements the Hearst Equestrian Center, used throughout the year for competitive events.
“We’re increasing shade elements this year in a new Midway Food Court with seating north of our newly enhanced Grandstand,” said Bradley. Along with funnel cakes, rice bowls and blooming onions, a Hurricane Kitchen Southern Cuisine, Baja Lobster, a Hawaiian food booth, Jimmy’s Tacos and Marcus’ Chicago Dogs are among the new offerings.
Bradley is especially motivated about placing emphasis on the Fair’s mainstay of Agriculture.
“It’s a critical element for us. We want people to experience agriculture through taste and touch,” said Bradley. “At the south gate, Rancho Frontier will be dedicated to children and families. We’re bringing back the petting zoo, we’ll have a Turkey Stampede, pony rides, ag equipment on display, activities, contests, a milk shed by Cal Poly students, and an exhibit that demonstrates strawberry, olive, grape and olive production.” Among the activities added is an educational exhibit featuring birds of prey and how they help control the rodent population.
Farm Supply will sponsor “Farm Alley” between the Fine Arts and Horticulture buildings with a “Quiz Jam” series of hands-on activities typically found on a farm, such as changing tractor tires, irrigation, farm equipment identification, irrigation systems and livestock nutrition. The marketplace at Estrella Hall will also showcase locally-sourced products with an accent on tech, food, history and agricultural heritage.
Another important agricultural aspect is the Job Fair. Representatives and demos by a series of trade unions – carpenters, masons, engineers and more – will offer leads for employment, and educational and vocational training information by JB Dewar and Cuesta College.
New this year at the Frontier Building is an illuminated, animated, ten-window display of San Luis Obispo County communities. “It was Mayor Steve Martin’s idea,” said Bradley, and will highlight the attributes of Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, Oceano, Pismo Beach, San Simeon and Morro Bay.
Hispanic Culture Day (Sunday) will feature bull rides. Motorcycle racing, along with a truck and tractor pull, is also hoped to attract the gearheads.
“After all these years, I’ve still got the Fair bug,” said Bradley. “The rush, emotion, satisfaction… It pumps your heart and makes you want to live! George M. Cohan and Walt Disney knew theater, and they both got it done.”