PLEASANTON -- The Alameda County Fair opened its 100th annual run Wednesday with a bargain $1 admission and sizzling temperatures that drew families and kids eager to gulp cold drinks and get splashed in a new water log ride.
Hundreds of fairgoers were lined up when the gates swung open at 11 a.m. to mark the fair's centennial celebration.
In honor of the occasion, the fair dropped the admission price to $1 for the day.
"I've never seen this many people so early on an opening day," said Tim Matthies, of Jackson, whose family was exhibiting goats. "It's a bargain at a buck to get in."
April Mitchell, the fair marketing director, said attendance was strong early on and could set an opening day record.
As temperatures surged into the 90s, Julia Brunelli, 18, of Pleasanton, and eight friends were among those who splashed and shrieked their way down two big drops in a new water log ride called "White Water."
"I think this ride is perfect for this fair because it can get so hot in the afternoons in Pleasanton," Brunelli said, showing off droplets of spray on her face and clothes. "I'm not soaked, but it was refreshing."
Amie Conrad, of Fremont, was in line early Wednesday because she wanted to find out how her fused glass pendant fared in the jewelry competition and how her husband's photos did in an art competition.
"We delivered the entries ahead of time, and now I'm headed over to the exhibition halls to
She took her two children, 2-year-old Madeleine and 9-month-old Spencer.
"It's a family tradition," Conrad said. "I've been coming to the fair since I was young."
Barbara Nexsen, of Danville, also headed straight to the "Food and Fiber" exhibition hall to discover that her jams and preserves had again won many ribbons. Her pear and raspberry jam won "best of show" and an honored display spot in a glass case.
"I'm not exactly sure what the award means, but it's nice that the judges said it stood out," Nexsen said. "You have to be careful to get the right balance of pear and berry."
She won no awards in her first year -- 1961 -- but has become a regular winner at the fair ever since.
Sammy Lerena worked in the cool shade of a barn, washing, brushing and clipping his South African Boer goat that he raised on his family's Red Oak Ranch near Marysville.
Lerena, 18, a college freshman, has given up football and other sports to concentrate on raising goats. He plans to travel to some 20 or more goat shows in at least five states this year
"It's about winning and bringing recognition to the family business," Lerena said. "That's more important to me than sports."
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.
When: The fair runs through July 8. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday (closes at 9 p.m. July 4) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. It is closed Mondays.
Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave. (off Bernal Avenue), Pleasanton
Admission: $10, $8 for seniors, $6 for ages 6-12, under 6 enter free. Parking is $10 ($2 discount if bought online). Wristbands for unlimited rides are $22 online, $27 at gate Tuesday through Friday, and $30 on weekends.
Discounts: Admission is $2 for all on Tuesdays, Free admission for seniors 62 and over on Thursdays. Kids enter free on Fridays.
Racing: Racing begins June 21. Post time is 1:15 p.m.
Fireworks: A free fireworks show will be held each Friday about 9:30 p.m.
Music: Free concerts are held at 7 p.m. daily. Among the acts are Tower of Power on Wednesday, Salt-N-Pepa on Sunday, Rick Springfield on June 28, America on June 29, and Kellie Pickler on July 8.
Parade: A fair parade with floats and marching bands starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton and travels Main Street to the fairgrounds.
Details: Visit alamedacountyfair.co