Some came for the reptiles, some came for the music, some came for the girls. But no matter the reason for attendance, the first visitors to the San Joaquin County Fair on Wednesday afternoon had two things in common: They wanted to have a good time and beat the heat.
Some visitors found solace in the cool walls of observing the unique reptiles, compliments of Brad's World Reptiles.
"I love reptiles," said 14-year-old Freddie Mathews, of Ripon, who liked the spiny alligator snapping turtle the best. "I was like, 'What in the world is that?' … everything is really cool."
Others such as nine-year-old Kala Susa, of Stockton, found a way to stay cool and have fun.
"I go to the rides because they're fun and it's hot," Kala said.
Local Future Farmers of America, 4-H and SkillsUSA students were enjoying more than just attending the fair. Many of them walked away from competitions with various awards.
"I just got best of show," said Lodi High SkillsUSA graduate Madelyn Farmer, jumping up and down and running toward her mother.
This summer was Farmer's third year competing in the county fair, and now that she's won best of show for her computer-assisted drafting project, she is headed to the state fair in August.
"I wasn't expecting it," Farmer said. "It's awesome, that's just pretty awesome."
Her mother, however, was excited for another reason.
"I was just on the radio," said Lodian Jackie Farmer, beaming as widely as her daughter.
West High School FFA member Adam Mehring experienced similar excitement to Farmer when his Boer goat won first-place in showmanship and moved on to the Advance Market competition, where he placed fifth.
"It was a surprise, but it was a relief because I spent so much time throughout the year working on it," Mehring said.
Mehring plans to sell his goat and use the money raised to pay his father back for expenses accrued this year and prepare for next summer's fair.
As some escaped the heat indoors, others spent their time cheering for favorite wild animals performing to a background of Disney music.
"Good girl, Natasha," said animal trainer Robert Mullen to the 350-pound Bengal tiger jumping onto blocks in front of cheering children and adults. "Good, good girl, scratchy, scratchy."
The fair will run today from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. At 4 p.m. livestock judging will begin followed by a Livestock Bowl contest at 6:30 p.m. Music by Travis Tritt will start at 8 p.m.
The following "Grounds Acts" will also be open today:
Rain Forest: 5 p.m., 7p.m., and 9 p.m.
Hambone Express (Racing pigs): 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m.
Showboat Marionettes: 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m.
Swan Bros. Circus: 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m.
Hypnotist Suzy Haner: 8 p.m., 10 p.m.
Stephen Lord - One man band: 5 p.m., 10 p.m.
Source: San Joaquin County Fair
For Andre Leonardo, 12, of Tracy, Wednesday's pig races would be an embarrassing-but-memorable part of this year's fair.
Andre, selected to be one of the cheerleaders for the Ham Bone pig races, won a rubber pig nose and was asked to dance for the crown when his "olympig" won the race for an Oreo cookie.
"I was excited," Andre said. "But this is embarrassing, kind of. I never want to put it on again."
While visitors moseyed through exhibits and children watched puppet shows, vendors and fair directors enjoyed how smoothly the fair was running.
"Everything is going just fine and there is a lot of security," said Steve Farrell, business owner in charge of the Snapp Capps vending booth.
Fair Director Ken Yasui felt this summer's fair catered toward the children of San Joaquin County and felt many of the exhibits helped fair-goers experience more of a "county feel."
"Since it's a five-day fair, we can put on more of a county fair," Yasui said. "The rainforest exhibit has more for the young people to look at."