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California Mid-State Fair returns to Paso Robles

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Angel Russell
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The California Mid-State Fair will have new hours this year. Monday-Thursday 4:00pm-Midnight, Friday-Sunday Noon-Midnight

After being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Mid-State Fair returns Wednesday — bringing back crowds, rides, and live musical performances.

Usually, planning for a fair takes several months. But this year, with the uncertainty of when things would re-open, fair organizers only had a few weeks to pull it off. 

“To plan a fair of our size in six weeks and to do it, I’m not going to lie, it's hard, it's tough," said fair spokesperson Tom Keffury. "We realize we aren’t going to be exactly like we were in 2019, but we think we are going to be pretty close.”

Keffury said the fair will be following state and county health guidelines. Masks are not required to attend, and vaccination status will not be asked. 

“Our carnival we spread out a little bit more, our vendors will be spread out a little bit more," Keffury said. "Our concerts, general admission seats allow you to spread out so you don’t have to sit right next to a stranger if you don’t want to.”

Headliner Bret Michaels was canceled due to members of his entourage who may have been exposed to COVID-19. But Jason Derulo, Little Big Town and the other performers are still scheduled.

Some attractions such as the nightly barn dance and the petting zoo have been axed due to COVID19 concerns.

“The animals will still be there for people to see," Keffury said. " But there will not be a petting zoo.”

For vendors, it’s one of the few fairs open this year. Mark Davis, who owns the kettlecorn standsl says usually they travel to 14 fairs. This year, they are traveling to four.

Davis said after a year's absence, fair vendors are working a bit harder than usual to get everything up and running on time. 

“The show must go on! We are a little rusty because we have been ideal for too long," Davis said. "But we are getting there now.”

Davis said although this year isn’t business as usual with the ongoing pandemic, vendors are excited and relieved to be able to work again.

“We’ve all gone through a rough time, but we’ve all stuck together," Davis said. " We are glad we are back, and we are looking forward to everybody coming to the California Mid-State Fair.”

Fairgrounds open Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.