PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Hundreds of active duty military, veterans and family members took advantage of free admission and reduced rate carnival rides at the 2015 Monterey County Fair during Military Appreciation Day, Sept. 4.

The five-day annual fair featured colorful midway games and carnival rides, food and beverage vendors, a variety of live bands, and a rodeo show with bull and bronco riding, cowboy tricks and roping. The fair also featured exhibits on the arts, animals, agriculture, wines, baked goods, flowers, handicrafts, home economics, environmental stewardship and water conservation in keeping with this year's theme "Farm Fresh Fun."

In talking with service members in attendance during Military Appreciation Day, good old-fashion "fun" was the main draw in getting them off post to enjoy this community tradition.

"Our sergeant told us about this at an 'All Call' and told us to go have some fun," said Airman 1st Class Jordan Hall. "I haven't been to a fair in forever and I love it. I think it's great they are doing this for the military and showing us support and that there is so much military here showing we appreciate them. We support them, they support us -- it's really nice."

The Flying U Rodeo held a patriotic opening ceremony inside the fairground's Pattee Arena that included a parachutist landing while trailing a large American flag which was then spread across the arena's open area while the National Anthem was sung.

R&B legends Tower of Power headlined the evening's musical entertainment with a concert performance on the Payton Stage.

"It's always nice the community is open to us and everyone should get out of the house and do fun things every once in a while," said Airman 1st Class Sean Hill. "I don't feel like they should have to do things like Military Appreciation Day. But I am appreciative of it and it makes me more inclined to go out and do things within the community."

For Pvt. 1st Class Aisha Harper, attending the fair was a helpful break from language studies at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. "I haven't been to a fair since I was ten," said Harper. "I feel like a little kid."

More than 80,000 people attended from Sept. 2-7 as the Monterey County Fair celebrated its 79th anniversary.