Lenore Rutherford, The Union Democrat

Hundreds of volunteers and more than 1,500 visitors took part in the 34th annual Tuolumne County Adult Health Fair on Tuesday, and more are expected to go today.

The fair today opened at 5 a.m. today for blood draws and will remain open until 3 p.m. The fair is at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, off Stockton Road in Sonora.

It's open to all adults, including the uninsured, and most screenings are free. The blood draw is $20.

"Several people have said this is the smoothest the fair has ever run," said 33-year volunteer Martha Cover, who was signing people in to get their blood drawn for a comprehensive panel of tests. "We've been doing it a long time, and I guess we have learned a thing or two."

She said 1,677 people had signed up for the blood draw by noon Tuesday.

Volunteer Tim Mansford, a clinical lab scientist and volunteer, said this was his 18th year at the fair.

"I do it for the community," he said. "It's amazing how warm and appreciative the community is about this event."

Kathi Amos, co-chairwoman of the fair, said about noon Tuesday that attendance was slightly lower than last year at the same time.

"There were no long lines," she said. "The second day is typically busier though."

Amos said the oldest person attending the fair this year was 100, and two 94-year-olds participated in the free screenings and inexpensive blood tests.

Twenty-year volunteer Barbara McBride, who was helping people navigate their way through the multitude of free screenings, said it makes her feel good to give back a little every year.

Volunteer Registered Nurse Pat Dean, who was helping people interpret the screenings they had done, said at least one person was sent immediately to a doctor Tuesday because he had high blood pressure, which was not normal for him, and she detected an irregular heartbeat.

Two others were told to get medical care as soon as possible. She said a lot of people had high blood pressure.

"What's amazing to me is that 50 percent of the people I saw had no insurance," she said. "They were so needy, asking what to do about their situations. It's very sad, and very global."

She said one couple told her they probably wouldn't follow up on her suggestions because they didn't have insurance after a job loss.

When the man got stung by bees and had to go to emergency, they ended up with a $5,000 bill they need to pay before they incur any more, she said.

Dean said all she could do was suggest they go to a clinic and an insurance counselor.