Get ready to indulge in the sights, sounds, and tastes of California as the California State Fair returns to Cal Expo in Sacramento, opening its gates later this week. It all starts Friday July 12 and continues through July 28. 

This annual celebration promises an exciting lineup of entertainment, agricultural exhibits, and, of course, a delectable array of fair cuisine that will tempt taste buds from near and far. This year’s California State Fair is bringing a host of new attractions and beloved returning favorites, promising a thrilling experience for all attendees.

The California Exposition & State Fair mission is to create a State Fair experience reflecting California including its industries, agriculture, and diversity of its people, traditions and trends shaping its future supported by year-round events. The California State Fair is by far the grand daddy of all events through the year at Cal Expo and this year promises it won’t disappoint with many new attractions and many returning favorites over the course of the fair.

A few of the newest attractions:

New Animal Shows
The fair will showcase two new traveling attractions: “Sea Lion Splash” and the “All-Alaskan Racing Pigs.”

New Exhibits

Mind Works Exhibit: Featuring life-sized board games like Chess and Scrabble, along with various puzzle activities.

California High-Speed Rail Exhibit: Exploring the state’s transportation project.

Wild Things Exhibit: Promoting conservation efforts and displaying wildlife such as capybaras, alligators, otters, exotic birds, and reptiles.

Animation Academy Exhibit: Delving into careers in animation and storytelling techniques.

New Competitions and Showcases

BBQ Competition: Grill masters will compete to determine the fair’s BBQ champion.

Art Battle: Artists will create masterpieces to music.

Butcher Showcase: Demonstrating the craft of butchery.

New Thrill Ride
The King XXL by Butler Amusements will swing fairgoers on a claw pendulum until they reach a 90-degree angle.

Frida Kahlo Play
El Bus de Frida, a theatrical play celebrating the Mexican artist, will be performed on the PG&E Center Stage on July 19 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Cannabis Lounge
For the first time at a state fair, attendees aged 21 and older will be able to purchase and consume cannabis onsite. The cannabis exhibition will include a 30,000-square-foot consumption lounge featuring products from farms and brands across the state. The lounge will be fully operational by July 14, but visitors can enjoy edibles, topicals, and beverages within the cannabis exhibit until then.

A few of the returning favorites at the 2024 California State Fair:

Candy Maze Selfie Experience: Featuring 14 candy-themed photo stations.

Wine Slushies: Available at the Save Mart Wine Garden.

Youth Mariachi Competition: Ten bands will compete for a chance to perform with Mariachi Los Comperos on the Golden 1 Stage on July 21.

Performances: Including Breakshop breakdancers and hypnotist Tina Marie.

Drag Queen Bingo: Returning for Out at The Fair on Saturday, July 20.

Food and Cooking Demonstrations: Hosted at the Save Mart California Kitchen.

Thoroughbred Horse Racing: Taking place at 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the Michelob Ultra Racetrack Grandstand.

Tasting Classes: Offering wine, beer, olive oil, mushroom, and cider tasting classes on Friday through Sunday at the Taste of California classroom.

Save Mart Pie Eating Contest: Always a hit among fairgoers.

Admission and Ticket Information

Tickets for the California State Fair are now on sale, offering both advance and regular pricing options:

Adult Daily Admission: $16 at the gate, $14 in advance

Senior Daily Admission (Ages 62 & better): $12 at the gate, $10 in advance

Youth Daily Admission (Ages 5-12): $10 at the gate, $8 in advance

Child Daily Admission (Ages 4 & under): Free

Auto Parking: $15

Fairgoers looking to maximize their visit can opt for the Family Fun Pack priced at $49.99, which includes 4 single-day general admissions, 4 ride tickets valid for the carnival or monorail, and a parking pass. For frequent fair attendees, the State Fair Season Pass offers daily admission and a parking pass for $35.99, or a 3-day pass for $30. All tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at

Entertainment Galore

The highlight of the fair is its electrifying entertainment lineup featuring the Toyota Concert Series, which offers free concerts with fair admission. From nostalgic tunes to contemporary hits, the series caters to a wide range of musical tastes:

July 12: Kick off the festivities with Vanilla Ice and All-4-One

July 13: Enjoy classic harmonies with Wilson Phillips

July 14: Country music fans won’t want to miss Cole Swindell

July 16: Dance along with Zapp’s funky beats

July 17: Rock out with WAR

July 18: Country star Chris Young takes the stage

July 19: Travel back in time with 90’s Rewind featuring Tone Loc, C&C Music Factory, and Digital Underground

July 20: Experience the soulful voice of Patti LaBelle

July 21: Immerse yourself in Viva El Mariachi with Pablo Montero and Mariachi Los Camperos

July 23: Get ready to party with Flo Rida

July 24: Rock with Bush

July 25: Enjoy Lukas Nelson’s soulful tunes

July 26: Surf’s up with The Beach Boys

July 27: Discover the country charm of Mickey Guyton

July 28: Close out the fair with UB40 featuring Ali Campbell

Concert-goers can also purchase reserved seats starting at $25 for a closer view of their favorite performers. Please note, a concert ticket does not include admission to the fairgrounds, so be sure to secure a fair admission ticket or season pass as well.

Special Events and Attractions

In addition to the stellar entertainment lineup, the California State Fair offers special events throughout its run:

Senior Savings Friday: Seniors 62 and older can enjoy admission for just $10 all day.

Tuesday Kids Free Day & $2 Rides for All: Children 12 and under receive free admission, with rides priced at just $2 each for all fair-goers.

Military, Veteran & First Responder Appreciation Day: Active duty, reserve, and veterans from all branches of the military, along with active first responders, receive free admission all day.

SMUD Giving Monday: Donate five non-perishable food items at the fair gates before 3 p.m. to receive free admission, supporting the Elk Grove Food Bank.

Plan Your Visit

To ensure a seamless experience, fair organizers recommend purchasing tickets through Etix, the official ticketing partner. Verified tickets sold through Etix guarantee entry and help avoid any issues with third-party sellers.

For more information on tickets, event schedules, and all the exciting attractions awaiting at the California State Fair, visit the official fair website or contact customer support for assistance.

Cal Expo, spanning 350 acres in Sacramento, has been hosting the California State Fair since 1968. Beyond the fair, it serves as a premier venue for year-round events, highlighting California’s agricultural heritage and community spirit.

The California State Fair promises an unforgettable summer experience for families, music enthusiasts, and food lovers alike. With a packed schedule of entertainment, mouth-watering treats, and engaging exhibits, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone looking to celebrate the best of California under the sun

<p>The post State Fair to celebrate California, food, music and more starting Friday  first appeared on Folsom Times.</p>