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Enthusiasm for California Mid-State Fair not dampened by heat

More than 420,000 people attended the 2016 California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, despite hot weather and poor air quality from wildfires.
More than 420,000 people attended the 2016 California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, despite hot weather and poor air quality from wildfires. jtarica@thetribunenews.com

In spite of poor air quality from wildfires and temperatures that exceeded 105 degrees on five days out of its 12-day run, the California Mid-State Fair, for the sixth year in a row, welcomed more than 410,000 people to the annual event that wrapped up Sunday.

“Despite the extreme heat, America’s favorite fair was a tremendous success, full of family fun and memories,” fair CEO Michael Bradley said.

Overall, attendance at this year’s fair was down 1.8 percent from 2015, attracting 421,231 people, according to event statistics released Thursday.

A heat wave hit Paso Robles just as the fair was starting and did not let up until the fair concluded. Temperatures ranged from a low of 92 degrees on its final day to a high of 107 on July 29.

The smoky conditions were caused by the massive Soberanes Fire burning in Monterey County. Air quality conditions were so bad July 26 that the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District issued a warning encouraging residents to stay indoors as much as possible when it was obvious that smoke was in the air. Many local doctors also advised children, the elderly and patients with asthma to stay indoors.

Fair managers said one of the most popular days of the fair was the final Sunday, when there was a relative cool down and the smoke cleared.

The single most popular entertainment event was country singer Blake Shelton, whose record-breaking performance July 23 attracted 14,875 people — the largest crowd to ever see a show in the Chumash Grandstand Arena.

The crowd also drank a record-breaking 326 kegs of beer.

Overall attendance at the Bud Light Concert Series also was strong. The 13 concerts drew 74,845 people.

The Junior Livestock Auction was a success as well, with sales of 817 animals bringing in $2,426,206.

Two new events in the Grandstand Arena, the Fiesta Del Charro and the Extreme Team Rodeo, also were popular. Regional Mexican singer/songwriter and accordionist Noel Torres performed two shows on the Frontier Stage and drew full, enthusiastic crowds.

Another feature of this year’s fair was improved security measures. For the first time, metal detectors were used at each gate.

Fair staff had to hand-wand every guest but were able to move people through the gates without noticeable slowdowns, fair managers said. Many fairgoers complimented fair managers and staff for using the new safety technology, according to a news release.

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