The 75th annual Mother Lode Fair is beginning to take shape with less than a week before the gates open.
Crews are hard at work setting up art exhibits, preparing the livestock areas and performing maintenance work to the facilities, according to Fair Manager Jan Haydn-Myer.
“It’s all falling into place,” she said Thursday. “It’s kind of nice when you can see it all coming together.”
The fair runs July 12 to 15 and features a number of family-friendly activities, concerts and motorized events.
Fair admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62 and over, $4 for children ages 6 through 12, and free for children 5 and under. Opening day is half price.
Motorized events at the fairgrounds arena, including the tractor pulls on Friday and Saturday and the destruction derby Sunday, cost an extra $5. The motocross event Thursday is free with the price of admission.
Carnival pre-sale tickets cost $20 and are available until July 11 and provide unlimited rides for use on any day.
There will be various events that are free with the price of admission, including live music from both local and national acts. Livestock shows will be held Thursday and Friday, with auctions on Saturday and Sunday and an awards ceremony and barbecue Sunday as well.
There are about 600 more individual entries for arts and crafts than the previous year, which was about 1,400, Haydn-Myer said. The largest growth in entries has been in photography, flower arrangements and quilts.
Haydn-Myer added that there are still a few opportunities to reserve vendor booths, however, space is “very limited.”
Parking at the fairgrounds is also limited, so free shuttle buses will be running between the entrance at 220 Southgate Drive in Sonora, the Walmart parking lot on Sanguinetti Road and Courthouse Square on North Washington Street in downtown Sonora.
Black Oak Casino will sponsor the free transportation to the fair from a half-hour before the fair begins to a half-hour after it closes each day.
Haydn-Myer said it’s not just volunteers and employees who are working hard this next week to prepare for the beginning of the fair, but also the exhibitors, 4-H club members and others participating in the many events.
“There are things happening here right now, but also all over the county because people are getting ready to be here,” she said.
The first Tuolumne County Fair was held in the mid-1800s before it went inactive in 1903 after the state refused to fund events like county fairs that included activities such as gambling on horse races.
In 1937, the fair was revived and held at Sonora Union High School before moving to its current location the next year. The fairgrounds today consists of 25 acres and remains a state agency with nine board members appointed by the governor.
The fair has faced one of its toughest years ever after the state cut nearly $200,000 in funding that made up about 30 percent of the fair’s annual budget.
Haydn-Myer believes the 75th anniversary will bring more people out this year and help the fair stay afloat.
“The more people that come, the easier it will be to deal with our budget issue,” she said.
Haydn-Myer said that despite the difficult past year, she’s confident the community still wants it around and will continue its support for years to come.
“We did this for 75 years, even through World War II,” she said. “We should be able to make it 75 more.”