This year’s annual Merced County Spring Fair, informally known as the May Day Fair, occurred between May 1 and 5 and brought a “strong” attendance of 60,000 individuals.

According to the new fair manager, Cinnamon Howell,  the midday rain on May 4 only dented the fair attendance with a swift rebound in the afternoon. “We were very pleased with the turnout,” said Howell. It was a “huge success,” she said.

Livestock auctions amassed just over $1.1 million, which $150,000 in add-ons only increased. Add-ons are extra money spectators give those selling their animals to support them even more. Howell highlighted that many students auctioning their animals used the funds they earned for college.

According to Howell, 652 market animals were auctioned.

“It is really just a phenomenal auction. There are only just a handful [of auctions] that are hitting the million-dollar mark for a fair our size,” said Howell.

The carnival rides yielded over $4,500 in wristband pre-sales. According to Howell, it was the most bountiful pre-sale on record. “It really showed the community was excited and looking forward to coming,” she said.

The Merced County Spring Fair often features shared concession stands that generate high sales numbers to keep with the Los Banos tradition. “All of our vendors and exhibitors were impressed with the community support,” said Howell.

The Little Hands exhibit alone had roughly 10,000 visitors, 4,000 of which were children younger than 12 years old who participated in hands-on agricultural learning. Those children also received books that Merced County’s First Give donated.

Within the Little Hands exhibit was a historical display of the May Day fair organized by the Milliken Museum Howell called “fantastic.” Contests, such as the cookie and Easter pie contests, also did well.

According to Howell, there wasn’t one major safety issue to report during the Merced County Fair. The rain forced the cancellation of the tractor pulls show. Planning is still underway for the exact date, but organizers are planning a future showing in which already-sold tickets will be honored.

“This is my first year,” said Howell. “I feel really blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization. I was really impressed with our youth programs here. They wowed me with their maturity, their drive, and their desire to be the best they can be.”

Howell added that she’s “excited to be a part of this community.” She also wanted to recognize the Merced County Fair Heritage Foundation.

Howell took over as the new fair manager after Guy Gary, the former manager, died earlier in the year. “I’m really humbled to come to the fair behind Guy. We would be missing something if we didn’t mention Guy,” Howell said.

“I, along with everyone else, think very highly of him,” said Howell of Gary, who was also a friend and colleague.

Gary had already done much of the heavy lifting in planning the Merced County Spring Fair before he passed, Howell said. “The fair was set up so beautifully. He is missed here.”

Finally, Howell highlighted the creation of a new memorial scholarship in Gary’s honor. Individuals raised over $50,000 to fund the scholarship. Its exact details aren’t ironed out yet.

Javier Powell