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Admission to the San Joaquin Fair will be free this year

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Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:21 am, Fri Jun 10, 2011.

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 rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 3:52 pm on Wed, Jun 8, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Jay and Josh... great points... I experienced the same thing at silver Lake and Micki Grove... both places had problems with family friendly environments when free entry was allowed. My main point though was that lower fees do not mean loss of revenue... maybe something creative could be done where the fees could be reduced or maybe even debit card issued at entry.. Say if it is a $10.00 fee to enter, a $7.00 credit is given to buy things inside... Thanks for the input as free does not alwasy mean better... point well made.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 3:00 pm on Wed, Jun 8, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Jay, I agree with you. I've personally experienced nothing but problems related to giving anything away free. Reduce the rates but don't make it free. I think this is going to cause nothing but problems. I usually go to the County Fair for the concerts but I'll have to pass this year.

  • Jay Samone posted at 1:36 pm on Wed, Jun 8, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Darrell - I personally have a couple of issues with free admissions. The San Joaquin county fair isn't in the best of locations to begin with and by eliminating the admission fees - those that show up to cause trouble will no doubt increase in numbers. You have a poverty level community that surrounds the fairgrounds - if they couldn't afford to go last year - they probably won't spend much money this year.

    I do believe you will have an increase attendance, but it stands to reason that if someone can't afford to get in with two or three small children, they certainly can't afford to pay for the food for two or three small children (which will no doubt be raised a small percentage to offset the elimination of the admission fees). Remember - vendors have to pay to park their businesses and sell their wares there so I'm sure those fees will be raised as well. In this current economic climate, I do think it's great that they aren't charging, but history has shown that nothing is ever "free" - the costs are always offset. So while the gesture may be sincere,

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:41 am on Wed, Jun 8, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    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.

    Finally... common sense... I imagine Jeff Hood thinks this is a bad decision since he has the concept that reducing fees will have a negative economic consequence and could not possibly increase revenue. Hopefully, Lodi can learn something from this... we will see.



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