If you're itching for some horse racing action, you'll only have to wait until Thursday.
The horses are returning to the Stockton fairgrounds through Sunday this week and then for five days next week during the annual San Joaquin Fair.
The fair will be held June 24-28 from noon to 10 p.m. at the fairgrounds on Charter Way between Airport Way and Highway 99.
Some new attractions are planned for the fair, including demonstrations on how to go green; "Splash Dogs," where you can have your dog jump off a plank into a pool of water; "EarthCapades," an environmental vaudeville show with an environmental and conservation theme; a Walking Tree Man; and a recycled cycle, which resembles a golf cart made to look like a paneled truck from the 1930s.
For the first time, you may become a "fan" of the fair through MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, where you can get special deals for the fair, including free tickets, horse racing seats and gift cards from merchants, fair CEO Debbie Cook said. You can also get discounts by signing up for e-mails.
Links to the social networks are on the fair's Web site, www.sanjoaquinfair.com.
Thursday through Sunday, and June 24-28
The horses will return to Stockton from 12:30 to about 5:30 p.m. each day from Thursday through June 28, except for Monday and Tuesday.
San Joaquin Fair at a glanceWhen: June 24-28, noon to 10 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $9; children ages 6-12, $5; free for children 5 and under.
June 24: $5 until 5 p.m.
June 25: Free for children ages 6-12; free for seniors age 55 and older.
Special discount: Adults admitted for $6 and children for $3 if tickets are purchased before June 24.
Carnival passes: $28 for unlimited rides; $23 if purchased before June 24.
How to get tickets: Online at www.sanjoaquinfair.com/tickets/html.
Source: San Joaquin Fair
Horse racingWhen: Begins Thursday and continues through June 28, the last day of the fair. No racing on Monday and Tuesday. Post time is 12:45 p.m.
Admission: Horse racing this week, $3 with free parking; next week, free admission with fair ticket.
Box seats: $60 daily; $350 to $550 for nine days of racing. To reserve box seats, call 466-5041.
Wiener NationalsNorthern California's fastest dachshunds to compete at about 2:45 p.m. June 27 on the track.
ConcertsJune 24: Bret Michaels
June 25: Charlie Daniels Band, Williams & Rae
June 26: Raven Symone
June 27: Neville Brothers
June 28: Los Tucanes de Tijuana
All concerts begin at 8 p.m. Included in fair admission.
Other groups will perform at 5 p.m. They include the 209 All-Stars on June 24, the first day of the fair; the Bayou Boys, playing Cajun music, June 25-26; and Kenny and the Crew, June 27-28.
Source: San Joaquin Fair
Last year, the California Horse Racing Board moved the Stockton races to September, but that didn't help attendance at either the races or the fair itself, fair board president Mitch Slater said. Revenue was down about $300,000 more in 2008 than it was the previous year, when it was held during the fair.
So this year, horse racing returned to the same days as the fair, plus four days this week.
For those who are new to horse racing, race announcer Frank Mirahmadi will conduct seminars on the nuances of racing and how to bet on horses at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, as well as June 27 and 28.
In addition to horse racing, there will be a dachshund waddling contest at about 2:45 p.m. on June 27, and the last day of the fair will feature the Pink Ribbon Stakes to benefit breast cancer research. The Pink Ribbon Stakes, due to be held in mid-afternoon, will feature jockeys dressed primarily in pink, and breast cancer survivors will be honored, Slater said.
Visitors are invited to make a $2 bet, then donate the ticket to breast cancer awareness. If your horse wins that race, the winnings go to breast cancer awareness, Slater said.
At the horse races, the concession stands will be spruced up with tablecloths and include a greater variety of food.
"It's not all about beer and a hamburger," Slater said.
And this year, fair employees will be at the automated betting machines to help people who aren't familiar with how they work, he said.
If you can't make it for a full afternoon of racing, you can catch the last three to four races if you get there by 3 p.m., Slater said.
San Joaquin Fair
June 24-28, noon-10 p.m.
The fair's board of directors asked new fair manager Debbie Cook to try some new things to attract more visitors.
"She stepped up to the plate and knocked out some home runs for us," Slater said.
There will be the usual carnival rides, livestock and exhibits like food, canning and quilts, but many new attractions are planned.
How about having your dog compete in a contest where they jump off a dock into a swimming pool and chase a lure similar to what hunting dogs use? Spectators will get a refreshing splash during the warm days.
"It's like seeing Shamu at Marine World," Cook said.
However, you must register your dog at www.splashdogs.com/events/register/Stockton06-24.php in order to compete.
Also new at the fair is its emphasis on conservation and being green. For example, master gardeners will show you plants you can find at a local nursery that require little to no water.
"It doesn't have to be a cactus," Cook said.
In addition to the master gardeners, solar and car companies will show their wares, she said.
Other new attractions:
- EarthCapades, an environmental vaudeville show where performers
will juggle balls and do other tricks, all with an environmental
- The Walking Tree Man, a performer on stilts that make him at
least 10 feet tall.
"From a distance, he looks like a tree walking down the street," Cook said.
- A recycled cycle: It looks like a golf cart resembling an old
paneled truck from the 1930s. It's peddle power and decorated with
lot of recycled items like hub caps.
- The Ham Bone Express (pig races).
- A kids' tractor pull for children 4 through 12 years old.
For the first time, members of the fair's board of directors will be at the front gate to greet visitors and thank them for coming, Slater said.
The ground will be adorned with Christmas tree lights to make things a little more colorful.
During the fair the Leadership Stockton class of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce will look at "the good, the bad and the ugly" and make recommendations on how to improve the fair, Slater said.
For more information, call 468-5041 or visit www.sanjoaquinfair.com.