Fabulous Affordable Fun at the California State Fair
In this digital world, summer is one of the few times of the year when nature itself offers up reasons for us to unplug. Our phones can’t follow us into the pool or ocean, and many of us don’t have service as we venture far and wide for vacations in forests, deserts, or foreign cities. On top of that, in Sacramento, an event rolls around every year that reminds us we don’t need video games or expensive electronics to have a good time. The California State Fair, a staple of Sacramento, is a great way for the whole family to have tons of fun without the help of a smartphone or computer. Unique foods, a 3.5-acre farm, a monorail, and more are all waiting for you inside The California State Fair. There are many exciting activities to see and experience, so unglue your face from your phone, and make your way to the fairgrounds this summer.
A favorite for many fair-goers is seeing the animals, and there’s no shortage this year. The Horse Arena, a favorite for kids and adults alike, has thrilling demonstrations and performances all day long. This year, a special performance is based on the award-winning film The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams. Come early, because before each performance you can get up close and personal with the horses—and even scheduled times when visitors can ride them for free. If you’d rather see the horses race than perform, head to the Miller Lite Racetrack Grandstand, where you can watch live thoroughbred horse racing, just like the Triple Crown races, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the Fair. Click here to see more…
Special events will take place at the racetrack every day, many of them free to the public. Splash Dogs, Steampunk’d at the Races, and the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Dog Races are all free with admission. On top of that, if you decide to enter your dog into the Wiener Dog Races, on July 28, admission is included! This is a fun way for the whole family, including Fido, to enjoy the fair. The Wienerschneitzel Wiener dog races run between each horse race, so find a seat and pick your favorite pooch to cheer on!
One of the best-kept secrets of the Fair is the Kaiser Permanente Farm presented by Save Mart. This 3.5-acre working farm teaches fair-goers about produce grown in California. Best of all, the food grown here is donated to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. The Passport Program operates at the farm, so you check in at various stations and receive a stamp. Once your passport is full you can turn it in for some free fruit or other gifts!
The Fair doesn’t miss a chance to submerge something in hot oil, so make sure you get a taste of deep-fried goodness, be it Twinkies, pineapple, zucchini, or the classic corn dog. To save a few dollars, consider attending on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which are $2 Taste of the Fair days. On these special midweek days, food vendors offer up sample-sized items for sale for only $2! Instead of filling up on a full-sized funnel cake or corn dog that may be too much to handle, you can purchase a smaller version. That way you can try a little from every one of the delicious vendors. These specials run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. only so hurry over!
If you’re looking for a taste of freshness at the Fair, you’re in luck. Some of the best cheese, honey, and extra virgin olive oil can be sampled, provided by California’s best producers, in the Save Mart California’s Kitchen. Taste what has been grown and made in California. If you want to learn even more about these products, you can join a Taste of CA class with the experts. Well-known sommeliers, olive oil producers, and honey makers teach classes and serve up secret tips on how to spot the best of the best: castatefair.org/experienceclasses
GET IN FREE
If you want to lend a helping hand when it comes to food, consider coming to the fair on Monday. SMUD Cares at the Fair Giving Monday is a way for guests to receive free admission every Monday of the fair until 3:00 p.m. All you have to do is donate at least three canned or dried food items per person. It’s a great way to give back and enjoy all the fair has to offer for free.
On Tuesdays, Wells Fargo offers $2 Rides for All and Kids Free. Children aged 12 or younger get FREE admission, and almost all rides in the carnival are only $2 no matter your age. The first Tuesday of the Fair is Poppy’s Birthday Party and kids can enjoy a free birthday cupcake, courtesy of Save Mart.
There are other ways for people to get in for free or at a discounted price this year. Thursday, July 19 is Military and Veterans Appreciation Day presented by BloodSource, which means all active-duty military personnel and veterans with valid I.D. receive free admission. New in 2018, the spouses and dependents of active-duty military get in free with a valid I.D. It’s a great way to let the whole family of a service member enjoy the fun. July 26 is First Responders Appreciation Day presented by BloodSource, which means all first responders and law enforcement with valid I.D. get into the fair for free. CaStateFair.org/tickets
FREE MUSIC AND EXHIBITS
As the sun dips below the horizon, why not slow things down with a little music? Every night, there are live tunes at the Toyota Concert Series on the Golden 1 stage. This year’s concert line-up includes WAR, Trace Adkins, Kool & the Gang, Sugar Ray, and more. There are also live performances at the Promenade Stage, Blues & Brews Stage, Western Saloon Stage, and PG&E Center Stage that will highlight famous jazz artists like Mick Martin and Terry Hank.
Want to escape the heat? The Expo Center exhibits are in air-conditioned buildings and include winners of the Photography, Student Showcase, Fur & Feathers, Fine Art, and Crafts competitions. Alternatively, get close to the cute wildlife—rescued otters, several bald eagles, and more—in the Whale Tale exhibit.
Make sure you download the free California State Fair app before you visit. That’s where you’ll find out what’s happening, what to eat or drink, and where to go! Available on Android and Apple, this app will help you schedule your day, win tickets and prizes, and more. The app also has a fun photo hunt, where you take selfies throughout the fairgrounds. Once your photo card is filled, post it to social media, tag the CA State Fair, and head to an Information Booth for some free prizes!
And don’t worry about draining your battery. The CA State Fair has several free “Cool Down, Charge Up” stations. These are fast charging stations for your cell phone, located in an official Fair Cool Spot. Keeping “Cool” is an important part of the fair experience, so at the stations you’ll find misting stations, selfie centers, charging stations, cool shopping, and cool exhibits. While you’re waiting for your phone to charge, take advantage of the fair’s free Wifi, which is available throughout the fairgrounds.
Fun Pack for 4 – Only $49.99 ($91.00 value)
Season Pass – Admission every day $35.99 + Raging Waters Water Park entry
Blue Ribbon Pass – $45.99 – Admission every day, Raging Waters, monorail rides, horseracing reserved seat and coupon book
“Lady Bird” Experience Pass –$22.00 – Admission to the Fair + unlimited “Log Ride” on the White Water ride. Stay cool and ride all day. Package based on the Oscar-nominated movie filmed in Sacramento.
Horseracing Cool Experience Package – $32.00 includes Admission to the Fair and a buffet meal with fresh local vegetables, salad bar and daily pasta specials. Healthy eating and horseracing fun! (Thursday – Sunday 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.)
These specials end July 12th so hurry and get your tickets! www.castatefair.org/tickets
With so many new and old fun things to do, see, eat, and experience, there’s every reason to attend the California State Fair, be it plugged in or out! Don’t miss a moment of this memory-making event, July 13–29. Ticket-package information is available below.