San Joaquin Fair officials are thrilled about the fair's success in its 150th year of existence. Attendance was almost as great as it was two years ago.
Mild weather — mostly in the 80s — was largely responsible for the Stockton fair attracting 82,757 people for the five-day run that ended Sunday, according to fair CEO Debbie Cook.
Last year, there was scorching heat, including triple digits on the weekend, Cook said. Correspondingly, the fair attracted 5.3 percent fewer people than this year.
"The first couple of days (this year) were slow, and I was getting worried," Cook said. "We had good publicity, and word of mouth was that we had some new things."
The fairgrounds on Charter and Airport ways had a new coat of paint, cleaned-up planters with farm equipment, a family "cool zone," a 10-cent merry-go-round and misters.
Also new was the entertainment venue, the Steel Guitar Lounge, which included a food and beverage area and four plasma TVs near the stage.
"We had a festive atmosphere," Cook said.
The manager of another fair had told Cook, "You need to have music at every corner." She said she tried to do that, and patrons continually heard music.
And the entertainment stage was filled for weekend concerts featuring Jose Feliciano on Wednesday, Sawyer Brown on Thursday, Kool and the Gang on Friday, Tower of Power on Saturday and Lupillo Rivera on Sunday.
Attendance suffered in 2009, when it was toasty, especially during the prime weekend days. It reached 103 on Saturday of last year and 108 for the final day of the fair, according to AccuWeather.com, a private forecasting service.
When it gets too hot, the San Joaquin Fair makes an insurance claim to compensate for the heat. They used the insurance last year, and they have several times in recent years, Cook said.
But not 2010, with Saturday's high temperature reaching only 76 degrees in Stockton. It was 81 on Sunday and 80 on Friday, according to AccuWeather, a private forecasting service.
In fact, Cook said she had to unexpectedly wear a jacket on Friday and Saturday nights.
Horse racing had some mixed reviews. Betting was down a little this year. There were fewer races Friday through Sunday, most likely due to the economy, and those raising livestock also didn't earn as much money as normal, due to the economy, Cook said.
On Saturday, all jockeys and horsemen wore pink to promote breast cancer research.
"Now we can build on our hard work," said fair board member Mitch Slater, who lives in Lodi and works for the Lodi Unified School District. "I think we're going in the right direction."