On Wednesday, the gates to the California Mid-State Fair will open and allow people to enjoy carnival rides, live music, shopping, food and more.
Last year, organizers did not hold a fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this time around, there will be some modifications made to protect people from the virus as they explore the Paso Robles Event Center.
“There are 31 carnival rides open to all ages so you can bring your littles, and you can bring your teenagers," said Colleen Bojorquez, the interim CEO of the Mid-State Fair.
Hours are slightly different this year. Monday through Thursday, the site is open from 4 p.m. until midnight. Friday through Sunday, people can enjoy the fair from noon to midnight. Organizers attribute the change in hours on some days to the heat.
Bojorquez says they don't know how many people to expect.
“So in a normal year, there's anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 people a day that come on to our grounds, and we're hoping that we can bring that, I mean, that would be fantastic, but I don't know what to expect. People are so hungry to get out but at the same time, if they aren't comfortable, then they might not come, so I don't really have a number in mind," she said.
While there is no capacity limit for the indoor or outdoor exhibits or carnival space, seating in the Chumash Grandstand Arena for the concerts is being limited.
The fair has installed a touchless system to purchase carnival wristbands online, setting up handwashing stations and continuing regular sanitation in an effort to keep people safe.
Bojorquez explained, “We will have a lot more hand washing stations around because that's the number one thing that everybody needs to be doing is washing their hands. If you want to wear a mask, by all means, please wear a mask, but we're strongly suggesting, per the state guidelines, that people come vaccinated, they have a negative test or they wear a mask."
Fair officials said some of the challenges they faced this included finding enough people to work, but say organizing and setting everything up has been like a homecoming.
“[It’s] been great because we get to see everybody. We haven't seen people in so long and it's so great to have people on grounds, our vendors are excited to get back to work," Bojorquez said.
The fair gates open Wednesday at 4 p.m. The fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 1.