With five new board members, the San Joaquin Fair will feature something quite new: free admission.
"You can't pay $5 a child if you have two or three kids," said Lodi-Thornton-area dairy farmer Carolyn Van Exel, who joined the fair board in January. "We want to move back to a family-friendly atmosphere."
The annual fair in south Stockton will be held Wednesday through Sunday of next week.
Due to financial issues, the board didn't replace fair CEO Debbie Cook when she resigned last year. Janet Covello, who has worked at the fair for 27 years, is the interim CEO.
And former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed five new board members, which required a learning curve among the old and new directors. Newcomers include Van Exel, Joe Valente and Denis Lewis, all of Lodi, Thomas Sawyer, of Stockton, and David Cultera, of Escalon.
"There was a learning curve, but we've all been involved there for a number of years," Valente said.
Valente and Van Exel said they hope that the free admission will encourage people to use the money they saved for concessions, carnival rides, horse racing or other activities.
Some improvements have also been made at the fairgrounds on Charter and Airport ways. They include a winner's circle at the horse racing track, and the livestock barns got a fresh coat of paint.
"We have a jewel in Stockton," Van Exel said. "We're 151 years old, so we're here to stay."
Live entertainment will include the Four Tops, Lonestar, Evolution — a tribute to Journey, Tower of Power and Los Horoscopos de Durango.
Further details on the fair will be available on Lodinews.com and in the News-Sentinel next week.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.