There was a time when people — kids, mostly — would camp out for a couple of days before the fair opened to be the first person through the gates for the year. Along with notoriety, that first person typically got awarded concert tickets, fair passes and other goodies. The fair eventually stopped the practice.
Here's a story about the first two people to enter the 1991 Mid-State Fair, and their sweet swag — Nelson concert, anyone? — "Partners are first at the Fair."
The “first person” through the main gate when the 1991 Mid-State Fair opened this morning was a partnership.
Jason Thompson, 12, of Paso Robles, and Mike Smith, 14, of Atascadero, formed their partnership Monday morning as a compromise.
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Jason had arrived at the fair’s main gate at 6 a.m., determined to be the first one through the gate this year. Later he went exploring, leaving his bike and gear to hold his place.
But when he returned, he found his bike and gear moved, and Mike in their place. Mike at arrived at about 8:30 a.m.
The boys worked things out by themselves.
“I didn’t want to get in an argument,” Mike said. “We’ll share everything.”
Fair officials obliged, giving the partners two tickets to the Nelson concert — which Jason had hoped to see — and two packets of ride tickets, two 13-day passes to the fair, and certificates for lots of food and drinks.
Jason said he heard about the two kids who were first through the gate last year, and decided he wanted the distinction this year.
Mike’s father, Jim Smith, spent the night with the boys as they tried to sleep in sleeping bags on lawn furniture. Jason’s mother, Sonya, stayed with them until midnight, and returned at 6 this morning.
Jason said he had trouble sleeping because of the lights, music blaring from workers’ radios and air blasting from a leaf blower.
They were also joined by three teenagers who spent the night by the main gate just for the fun of it, said Jim Smith. They worried Jason, Smith said, by jokingly saying they were going to carry Jason and his chair away when he fell asleep.
Sharing first-to-fair honors isn’t new; it happened last year when two boys entered together, taped together at the ankle and elbow.
While those two had the chance to watch the pig races, Mike and Jason won’t.
Fair Manager Maynard Potter announced Monday afternoon that the Bob Hale Pig Racing Stable’s appearance at the fair has been canceled.
He said it was canceled when the pig act racing unit arrived Monday morning at the fairgrounds.
The show and its personnel “were not of the quality expected or contracted by the fair,” Potter said.
The pig racing people left the fairground shortly after being canceled.
And fair security people also reported Monday that someone stole $625 worth of loudspeakers from the Entertainment Center Stage the night before.