Fair nearly hits 100,000 attendance mark

March 11, 2002

IMPERIAL — The 2002 California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta ended its 10-day run Sunday amid a roar of tractors and with crowds that pushed fair attendance close to the 100,000 mark.

"We came very close to meeting our attendance goal," said Bill Blair, fair chief executive officer.

He said final numbers will not be available until mid-week, although attendance easily surpassed the 2001 fair, which lost one full day because of bad weather.

"This year the weather cooperated for us big-time," Blair said.

Through Saturday, 88,000 people had passed through the gates. The 2000 fair had an attendance of 99,528 compared to the rain-hampered 2001 event, which had 90,816 visitors.

Blair said a highlight of this year's fair was all the positive comments he received about the fair's cleanliness and safety.


"Families have come back to the fair," he said. "It's been great seeing all of the parents with strollers throughout the grounds."

The annual junior livestock auction and stock car races Saturday and a Sunday tractor pull were the major events of the fair's final weekend.

Fifty-nine drivers of modified, factory and pro stock cars competed for a combined purse of nearly $10,000 Saturday night.

A tractor-pulling team of students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo won Sunday's unlimited class tractor pull. Their "Mustang Fever" 7,200-pound tractor was among 25 tractors from all over California that competed in the event. It was the third consecutive year the Pacific Tractor Pullers Association staged the event on the fair's closing day.

Although there were no Valley residents who placed in this year's event, Holtville's Walter Britschgi coordinated the tractor pull on behalf of the association.

In the Lifestyles Building, Mona Locher of El Centro closed a successful string of one-day cooking contest participation by winning Sunday's favorite bar cookies one-day contest. Norma Nixon of El Centro took second and Pauline McConnell of El Centro, third.

Locher took a prize in each of the 10 contests, including second-place finishes Friday and Saturday.

Teri Tennison of Seeley won Saturday's favorite crockpot dish contest with her "Tender ‘N Tangy Ribs" and Locher took second with a "Crockpot Pizza." Meredith Jones of Imperial took third with "Chicken in a Pot."

Favorite Imperial Valley salads were the theme of Friday's contest. Angela Marlow of Holtville won with "Marinated Veggie Imperial Valley Style." Locher took second with "IV Salad—Cilantro and Sesame Dressing," while Diana Randolph of El Centro finished third with her "Valley Grown Salad."

The contests were in the Lifestyles Building. Prizes are first place, $50; second place, $25 and third place, $15.

Sunday also had one other winner in the Lifestyles Building: Connie O'Brien of Brawley won a drawing for a quilt, made up of quilt blocks on display at the 2001 fair.

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