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The Santa Barbara County Fair was in full swing Friday, with thousands of Central Coast residents flocking to the Santa Maria Fairpark for the third day of food, carnival rides and entertainment.

"This year [the] weather is cooperating and we have a great lineup," fair spokesperson Shelly Cone said. San Jose rock group Smash Mouth kicked off the week on Wednesday, with country star Trace Adkins following on Thursday. Grammy Award winners Kool & the Gang took the stage Friday night, offering attendees a unique blend of R&B, funk, soul, disco and jazz.

Renowned percussionist and singer Sheila E. will take the stage Saturday night. A separate concert featuring El Fantasma y Su Equipo Armando, Kanales, Voz de Mando and Los Austeros de Durango marks Fiesta Day on Sunday.

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Cone estimates nearly 160,000 attendees will be drawn to the fair's 32 carnival rides, numerous attractions and more than two dozen food vendors. 

The fair opens at noon each day and closes at 10 p.m. The carnival may stay open until midnight. General admission tickets are $12. Youth (6 to 11) admission is $8. Children 5 and under are free. Senior admission (62-plus) is $8. Admission is free Saturday for active-duty military and law enforcement first responders with ID. 

Parking is discounted to $7 each day until 6 p.m., then increases to $10 per car.

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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