Salinas Valley Fair carnival
Youth hang upside down on the Fire Ball ride Friday night at the Salinas Valley Fair. The carnival and other attractions drew thousands of visitors to the fairgrounds in King City over the Fair’s four days of fun. (Ivan Garcia/SVF)

SALINAS VALLEY — Nearly 40,000 people attended the 80th Annual Salinas Valley Fair over the course of its four-day celebration in South Monterey County last week.

Under the theme, “Golden Hills & Fair Time Thrills,” the 2024 Fair once again provided family-friendly activities and entertainment May 16-19 across the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds in King City.

Fair food favorites like corn dogs, cotton candy and churros, as well as carnival rides and games all returned this year much to the delight of daily fairgoers. Thousands of items — from fresh flowers and quilts, to photographs and birdhouses — were also on display as part of the annual exhibit contests.

This year’s Fair kicked off in grand style Thursday with wine and delicious food inside the Orradre Building for the Grand Tasting, an opening-night tradition featuring the best wines from the annual Monterey International Wine Competition held in March.

Another highlight Thursday evening was the Motorcycle Short Track Racing at the Stampede Arena, where professional and amateur racers of all ages and skill levels competed on a specially constructed dirt track to win cash prizes and custom trophies. The event also featured the Ricky Graham Memorial Race held in honor of Graham, a longtime resident and national champion before his death in 1998.

“He left behind an amazing legacy in the professional dirt track world,” said Brok McAllister, the racing event promoter.

Results from the Motorcycle Short Track Racing can be viewed here.

As the traditional Fair activities continued Friday, the Longbranch Saloon opened with live music and dancing, followed by Outlaw Mariachi performing throughout the night on the Steinbeck Stage and 4×4 Truck and Tractor Pulls taking over the Stampede Arena.

Salinas Valley Fair FFA livestock
FFA members show off their market hogs for judging Friday at this year’s Fair. The youth raised livestock to be graded and sold during the Junior Livestock Auction on Saturday. (Ivan Garcia/SVF)

Junior Livestock Auction rakes in $2.6M

On Saturday, more than 800 4-H and FFA members participated in the Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction, which culminated in the selling of their livestock — market hogs, lambs, goats, beef, bred heifers, rabbits and poultry. This year’s Auction raised an unofficial total of $2.6 million, according to Fair staff.

Saul Guijarro, a member of Rancho San Juan FFA, raised the 2024 Salinas Valley Fair Heritage Animal, a lamb named “Bucky,” which sold for $833 per pound — bringing in an estimated $119,000. Proceeds from the sale of the Heritage Animal go toward the Salinas Valley Fair Heritage Foundation, which continues to work on various improvement projects at the fairgrounds.

“I feel privileged to be a part of raising money to help improve and maintain the Salinas Valley Fair,” Guijarro said.

Later that night, country duo Maddie & Tae took the Arena stage for this year’s headlining concert.

Other Fair highlights included Micro Wrestling on Thursday, Mariachi Divas on Saturday, Pee Wee Showmanship on Sunday, and the various activities taking place on the lawn, such as the Sea Lion Show, the Butterfly Kingdom and the Mind Works exhibit.

Along with King City Police Department, local law enforcement agencies — including Greenfield, Soledad, Gonzales and Salinas police departments, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol — made their presence known during the Fair, keeping everyone safe.

“Tons of gratitude for all of the folks making this weekend’s Salinas Valley Fair a huge success,” said Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez on social media Friday. “A special shout out to our LE (law enforcement) partners. Thanked many law enforcement officers who were out in support of the event tonight.”

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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