Thomas Sawyer is a part of the 2010-11 San Joaquin Fair Board of Directors. Sawyer, who previously worked on the fair board in Los Banos, is one of the five newly elected members to the San Joaquin board.
For the 2011 fair, Sawyer looks forward to the newly renovated winner's circle and the horses races for the visiting families to enjoy.
Q: How long have you been working on the San Joaquin Fair Board of Directors?
A: I have been working here since January of this year.
Q: Why did you decide to work on the board?
A: I was on the fair board in Los Banos for 12 years. I worked for the (California) Highway Patrol for Merced County and retired in December. I made a request to be a part of the board here. There are five new members this year. Everyone comes from different walks of life and has a lot of enthusiasm. I donate a lot of time to it. It's fun and very exciting.
Q: What are you looking forward to this year?
A: There was a new project to spruce up the racetrack. We got funding from the state to build a brand new winner's circle, which is where the winning horse comes in to receive the trophy and people take pictures of the horse. It's a great venue for a stage in front of the grandstands. One of the features of the winner's circle is that all of the horses in the beginning of the race parade in the winner's circle. It is currently under construction and will be ready for the opening day of the fair.
Q: Are the horses local?
A: Most of the horses are from California. We will have horse races all afternoon.
Q: What is special about the fair this year?
A: Admission is free this year. We want to get people to the festival. The fair this year starts Wednesday and is five days long.
Q: Has the fair always been for five days?
A: It's been moved around because of the horse racing availability. Getting horses to race is complex. Next year, we are planning to have two weeks of the fair.
Q: What do you like to do at the fair?
A: I like spending time at the exhibits. The exhibits are commercial so people can sell things like sunglasses and we also have floral contests. There are old cars, tractors and engines to look at.
Since we are such an agricultural community, I love looking at the animals and the way the kids deal with them. The kids raise the animals, bring them to the fair to auction them off, and receive money to buy another animal for next year's fair. I love the whole fair experience. You get to meet new people.
Q: How can families save money at the fair?
A: Well, last year it cost $9, but this year it's free admission. And you can even get more money than what you had when you came in, if you bet on one of the horse races.
Q: Why did they choose the particular bands?
A: Some of the reasons include how much they cost and their schedules. The band's circuits line them up so they can travel from one fair to the next. A lot of these bands are also on tour. We wanted a variety of music.
Sunday is Hispanic day, so we cater to the Hispanic folks who want to come to the fair.
Also, during the races, bands perform on the grandstand. They are local entertainment, I think, that the audience can listen to while the horses are getting ready.