It’s State Fair Time!


I love the California State Fair. Next to July 4, nothing says “summer” to me like a day (and evening) at the California State Fair. There’s so much to see and do, and, believe me, I try to see and do it all. This year’s theme is “Fun That Moves You.” Some highlights from past years:

• Exhibits. From the county exhibits to the art exhibits to all the exhibits in between, it’s fun to see what’s new each year. For some exhibits, a quick walk-through will suffice; others make me want to stop, linger and explore.

• Shopper’s Expo. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased an item at the Shopper’s Expo, but I still enjoy walking through, seeing what’s new and—the best part—listening to the great sales pitches.

• Midway. OK, I am a big chicken when it comes to the rides (though I may be talked into one or two, especially the new “white-water log ride”), but I love the energy of the midway, especially at night. I like the bright lights on the rides, the carnies hawking their games trying to lure you in with the promise of a stuffed animal you don’t need, watching brave souls do things like bungee jump. No visit to the California State Fair is complete without a walk through the “Magnificent Midway.”

• Food. C’mon, you gotta have some fair food! Past favorites have included an artichoke sandwich, made with deep-fried artichoke hearts. The sandwich comes with sprouts, which I find hilarious and also believe—somewhat tongue-in-cheek—that it offsets the fried part, and farm-fresh corn on the cob. (I prefer the stand that allows you to put on your own butter and seasonings.) Finish off your meal(s) with a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone or some cinnamon bread (as opposed to cinnamon rolls, which I hear are good, too) from the County Fair Cinnamon Rolls stand. (See my blog about the bread here.)

• Floriculture Exhibit. When you’re looking for a respite from the heat, be sure to take a stroll through this exhibit. It’s peaceful and serene, despite the hustle and bustle of the fair, and shaded. It also leads into the Save Mart Wine Country exhibit, where you can wine taste awarding-winning wines or just simply enjoy a glass or two of vino.

• Entertainment. From the hypnotist show on the PG&E Center Stage to the free concerts nightly on the Golden 1 Stage to the variety of entertainment on the Miller Lite Grandstand, there is no shortage of entertainment at the fair. Stay for entire shows or just stop by and check them out for a few minutes.

• Everything In Between. The fun thing about walking around the fair is the fun surprises you’re likely to come upon whether they be in the form of exhibits, entertainment or something else. If you’ve never been to the fair before, consider starting your day with a Monorail ride, which gives you a bird’s-eye view (albeit, a low-flying bird) of the grounds and attractions below.

The California State Fair takes place July 12–29 at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento. Tickets are $12 general, with discounts for seniors 62 and older and children ages 5 to 12. You can also click here for advance discount tickets.

What: California State Fair
When: July 12–29
Where: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento
Cost: $12 general with discounts for seniors 62 and older and children 5–12. Parking is $10 per car.