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Good times roll at SJ County Fair thru Sunday
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Turn-of-the-Century Ambassador Dennis Forel puts a smile on the faces of Jenny, Madison and Devin Alford of Galt with his balloon sculptures Thursday at the San Joaquin County Fair. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

The San Joaquin County Fair has been “celebrating 150 years of good times.”

That’s the official theme for the five-day event that concludes on Sunday.

Dennis Forel’s Penny-farthing bicycle may have been a common sight during the early years of the fair once held at Hunter Square in downtown Stockton. On Thursday, he strolled along the fairgrounds during the afternoon, pedaling the bike with the large wheel in the front and a much smaller one in the rear along the fairgrounds.

Wearing his sequined stars-and-stripes vest, Forel is also accustomed to hopping off the antique-looking cycle, stopping to make balloon sculptures for youngsters.

He enjoys the smiles his work brings to their faces.

“It’s my reward for what I do,” said Forel, who calls himself a ‘Turn-of-the-Century’ Ambassador.

For the past 35 years, he’s been entertaining folks with his balloon sculptures, spending the last 20 years doing the county fair circuit.

“This is my first time in Stockton (SJC Fair),” said Forel, who is scheduled to do the Solano County Fair in Vallejo next week.

On this day, Jenny, Madison and Devin Alford of Galt were among those who were entertained by his work.

The fair was celebrating Kids Day, with youngsters age 12 and under along with seniors being admitted free.

Lea Isetti, who handles marketing and promotions, was pleased with the newly configured layout of the fair.

Attendance figures won’t be released until the conclusion of the event but the first day appeared promising from that of the previous years.

“I saw more cars in the parking lot,” she said.

Many came to enjoy the carnival rides, exhibits, foods, and beverages.

The fair offers free attractions such as the addition of the Cool Zone – games and activities for youngsters located directly behind the Clothing & Textiles / arts & crafts in Building No. 5 – along with the Mitchell Marionettes (show time is 2:30, 5, 8 p.m.), Kid’s Tractor Pull (3, 6, 7:30 p.m./ 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday),  Fables of the West (1, 3, 5, 7 p.m.), Our Boys Steel Drum (4, 6, 7:30, 9 p.m.), and Snuffy’s Clowns  (3:30, 6:30, 8 p.m.), to name a few.

In addition, the Community Stage is featuring an assortment of acts.

The big acts are saved for the main stage. Kool and the Gang will play tonight, with Tower of Power (Saturday) and Lupillo Rivera (Sunday) performing during the weekend.

Isetti added that this year’s fair has been blessed with good weather.

“Thankfully, it’s not that hot,” she said.

For more information on the fair, call 209-466-5941 or log on to