The key to getting on every ride and eating all the greasy, unhealthy food at the Big Fresno Fair is to start early in the day.
That was Jocelyn Valdes' plan when she and boyfriend, Miguel Villeda, both of Reedley, stepped through the gates around 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Eleven years ago, Valdes and her family attended the fair for the first time only to lose her then 6-year-old sister in the commerce building. Her little sister was found in 20 minutes, but Valdes hadn't been back to the fair until Sunday.
"It's kind of like my first time again," Valdes said as she came off Vertigo, one of the fair's two newest rides. "I want to go on the Fireball next. I like roller coasters and going up and down. I like the adrenaline."
The teens' goal: to conquer as many of the fair's 62 rides as they could, then eat and explore.
The carnival area and the food vendors were bustling with people just an hour after the Big Fresno Fair opened on its fifth day of a 13-day run.
Valdes and Villeda, like many amusement-ride fans, were armed with unlimited carnival ride wristbands. They tried out Vertigo, which sends riders in swings 100 feet into the air.
"You've got a view of the whole fair," Villeda said. Valdes said it made her dizzy.
Cody Sayasone, 12, and his brother followed the young couple's game plan by hitting all the rides early too. The boys rode a roller coaster with spinning cars and then got wet on the White Water Log Flume.
"We're trying to get on rides we haven't experienced yet," like the high ones, the fast ones and the scary ones, Sayasone said.
Away from the screams and cheers of the midway, food trailer owners were busy selling food in shiny trailers emblazoned with two-story-tall signs, vegetable-shaped blow up balloons or life-sized recreations of their food, like a rotating hamburger.
Competition for fair food is tight and trailer owners like Tom Stroud want to attract connoisseurs with just one look.
"People eat with their eyes," said Stroud of Linden, who has brought his trailers to the Fresno fair since 1974. One of Stroud's $500,000 double-wide trailers sells half-pound corn dogs and slabs of five-pound curly fries dressed to order.
The industry is changing with trailers getting bigger and fancier, he said, which shows "people exactly what they are going to eat."
Admission: $10 general; $7 for ages 6-12,military with ID; free for kids 5 and younger and for 62-older.
Fair gates open: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Parking is $5 general, $8 preferred and $12 in the Chance Premier lot.
Performances: Neil Sedaka is the featured performer at the Paul Paul Theater, 7 p.m.
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