Anticipation is growing for the 154th annual Lodi Agriculture Fair.

The fun kicks off at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 11. Organizers said this year includes hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of exhibits to enjoy, ranging from quilting to woodworking and livestock-showing competitions. The community four-day event is focused on food and agriculture education, and this year the fair features new a few new competition categories for children ages five through eight

New this year are the Little Britches Dairy Class and the Little Britches Clucks and Ducks Class. Both occur Saturday morning following the regular dairy and poultry shows.

To help things run smoothly, volunteers come together to help guide and mentor little ones and teenagers, including 4-H and Future Farmers of America members, to show off their animals, farming skills and more. Lodi middle schoolers also chipped in their time to help prep for the fair.

“We do it for our youth to be successful in all different areas,” Fair Secretary Lori Ripp said. “The fair offers opportunities for kids to learn different things … and grow up to be good citizens.”

Thousands of visitors are expected at the fair throughout the weekend. Depending on the weather, Ripp said an estimated 10,000 folks will walk through the fairgrounds.

That influx of people creates a summertime boon for local businesses, according to Lodi and Lake Windsor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristi McMorris.

“It brings in tons of people … and that’s great for business within our area,” McMorris said. “The (fair organizers) are a great group of people. They don’t charge to go into the fair, which is very unheard of. They try to keep it very open to the public.”

Ripp said the fair only charges for parking after 2 p.m., for grandstand events and to enter the gated beer tent for people ages 21 and over. Food and carnival rides also cost extra, but viewing the hundreds of exhibits comes free of charge.

That openness, along with Lodi’s intrinsic charm, establishes the sense of returning home, she said.

“People have told me that when they come to Lodi, it’s like they’re coming back home to the simple things in life again,” she said. “It’s all because we care about the community and we care about the kids.”

Another popular event making a return this year is Stars of the Fair, which highlights children with special needs. They are paired up with a mentor who helps them get ready to show animals at the fair.

“They get to walk the pig or the dairy animal or a rabbit, and show it off to the crowd,” Ripp said. “It was such a wonderful experience last year. It was wonderful and those kids were so excited.”

Other events and activities include karaoke on Thursday from 8:30 p.m. through 11 p.m., a demolition derby on Friday at 7:30 p.m., a “kiddie car demo derby” Saturday at 7 p.m. immediately followed by the “Clash of Business” derby, and an all-day alumni softball tournament on Sunday.

But that’s only scratching the surface. Visit www.lodiagfair.com for a full list of events.

A full list of Lodi Ag Fair results will be announced in The Lodi Enterprise and Poynette Press in the July 18 edition.

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