Families eager to see and touch farm animals, try their luck at carnival games, and enjoy some good old-fashioned summer fun are getting ready to attend the Santa Clara County Fair scheduled for Aug. 2-5 at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose.
The event's theme this year is "Dive into Fun," and the entertainment schedule for opening day includes Divas of the Decades and The Switch.
Musical groups performing on Friday, Aug. 3, which is Senior Day, are Wally's Swing World, Jason Buell, Jessie James and Matt Stilwell. Seniors will receive fitness instruction at 12:30 p.m.
Sunday will feature The Pro Wrestling Revolution, Sage, Bluehouse, Nothin But the Beat and Grupo Folklorico.
Steve Stagnaro, director of marketing for the fair, said estimated attendance this year will be between 25,000 and 30,000.
A free-admission event for the last four years, the fair is going back to paid tickets, Stagnaro said. An admission charge will get the public inside the venue, but participants will have to pay to enjoy carnival rides and sample food items.
The fair was free during 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 because fairs were in decline, Stagnaro explained. "This one hit its bottom point for a couple of years," he said. "But last year, we actually saw a nice increase in attendance due to more reasons to come."
To continue to grow the event and its entertainment, attractions and rides, Stagnaro said it's necessary for the fair to have revenues to pay for them. "We're going back to being a paid fair so we can be a bigger and better fair so more people will want to come. It will be a very worthwhile and valuable event," he said.
Stagnaro said this year's event has many more offerings. One highlight is expected to be a group of sea lions performing in a special pool built next to the fairground's entrance. The animals are being handled by a UC doctor from the Moss Landing research facility.
"They'll put on a great performance twice a day throughout the four days of the event," Stagnaro said. "You can get a kiss from a sea lion. It will be pretty wonderful."
Another attraction this year is a hypnotist who'll perform on stage. There will be twice as many food vendors and rides as there were last year.
Also, for $25, fairgoers can enjoy a demolition derby show on Saturday, Aug. 4. The derby winner will take home a cash prize.
On Sunday, pro wrestling lucha libre Mexican style will be showcased by a San Jose promoter.
Of course, as always at a county fair, pigs, cows, sheep and goats will be available for petting and viewing at the fair's expo hall. The indoor livestock area will be the location for the 4-H and FFA awards ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 4 and the Junior Livestock Auction on Sunday, Aug. 5.
The fair, located at 344 Tully Road in San Jose, runs from 2-9 p.m. on Thursday and continues from noon-9 p.m. on Friday. Saturday hours are noon-10 p.m. and Sunday, noon-9 p.m.
Gate tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. Parking at the fairgrounds is $5. If fairgoers purchase their tickets before midnight, Aug. 1 they can receive discounts online by clicking here.
For more information about the event visit the event's page on Facebook by clicking here.