The California State Fair kicks off with new attractions, new rides - and a whole lot of fun Here's The Bee's guide to going and getting the best bang for your bucks for the 18-day run - July 12-29 at Cal Expo:
Wizard's Challenge (air-conditioned tent in front of Exhibit Building A): Explore the magic and wonder of science in this 9,600-square-foot, medieval- themed, mostly interactive exhibit with a Magic of Science stage show (three performances daily). Test your gamesmanship at the Giant Chess Set or make some music on the enchanted organ and steel drums.
Sun-Maid Centennial Exhibit (Expo Center, Building 3): The Kingsburg- based company celebrates 100 years of fruit and, of course, sunshine! This interactive exhibit covers a lot, including the history of dried fruit production. While you're there, check out the chef's dishes and grab some recipes to try at home.
Toytopia 2.0 (Expo Center, Building 5): Sacramento's Stage Nine Entertain- ment is back with an exhibit for everyone, especially the young at heart. Toytopia 2.0 invites you to doodle on the world's largest Etch-a-Sketch, play with Legos and hang out with the stuffed animals at Toytopia Zoo.
Wet 'n' Wild California (Exhibit Building B): The departments of Water Resources and Fish and Game team up on a water/wildlife exhibit that illustrates how water affects the habitats of animals like the raccoon, bobcat and bald eagle. Wildlife presentations featuring a beaver, a turkey vulture and a prickly porcupine: 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. daily.
State Fair Thoroughbred Racing Season (at the Miller Lite Grandstand): Live racing July 12-15 and July 19-22. The first race is at 1:45 p.m. daily (3:45 p.m. Fridays); free with fair admission.
Metal Mayhem destruction derbies: 7 p.m. July 21 (cars) and July 22 (cars and RVs) in the Rodeo Arena. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5, plus $1 service fee for each night when ordered online. Free admission for ages 2 and younger. Metal Mayhem tickets do not include fair admission.
See a show
General viewing of all concerts during the fair is free with fair admission. With the help of extra-large screens, the concerts can be seen from the lagoon and the grassy area. All concerts are held at the Golden1 Stage at 8 p.m. For close-up viewing, Gold Circle seating is available for purchase.
Who's coming? Some of the performers scheduled include Rick Springfield (July 19), Scotty McCreery (July 21), Dave Mason (July 23), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (July 27)
Ag Ventureland: Hitching post pony photos, plus a piglet train, cow milking and plenty for young buckaroos - The Farm
Birds in Paradise: Look up into the parrot tree. Can you see the macaws and the cockatoos? Be sure to say hi to the peacocks - inside the Floriculture exhibit
Farmyard Babies: Check out the new farmyard babies (get a handful of feed for 25 cents) - The Farm
Insect Pavilion: This year's special feature is beneficial insects - predators that hunt garden pests - The Farm
World's Largest Calarita (margarita): Set for July 13, try to break the Guinness Record for the largest cocktail.
Monorail: A great way to take in the fair, including the rides, exhibits - even the food. Board near the main gate.
Sacramento Mile: 6:45 p.m. July 28 at the Miller Lite Grandstand. All tickets ($30-$85) for the Sac Mile include fair admission.
Suzy Haner: She's the fair's answer to "The Mentalist." Haner showcases her amazing skills each day of the fair with three shows at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. on the PG&E Center Stage.
Tony Hawk: He's fast, he's furious, he's a skateboarding legend. And he'll perform at 7 p.m. July 16 as the featured event at the Miller Lite Grandstand.
Kids Days (every Tuesday): Kids 12 and under get free admission, and all rides are only $1 for all ages. Tickets not available online.
Wells Fargo Days (every Wednesday): $6 admission for everyone and $15 unlimited ride wristbands. Tickets not available online.
62 & Better! Days (every Friday): Adults 62 and over get $8 admission before 8 p.m. Tickets not available online.
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Sunday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Monday, Thursday: 2-11 p.m.
Tuesday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Wednesday: Noon-11 p.m.
Friday-Sunday: 11 a.m.-midnight
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday-Sunday : 11 a.m.-midnight
Discount package deals and tickets are available now, and the sale ends July 11.
Buy online at www.bigfun.org (with service fees) or the State Fair box office (no fees), which is open noon-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Once the fair opens:
General admission, $12; ages 62 and over, $10; ages 5-12, $8; and children 4 and under are admitted free
Unlimited ride wristband, $30 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; $15 Wednesday and $35 Saturday and Sunday at the gate
Unlimited ride wristband combo, $38: valid for one admission ticket and unlimited midway rides. Advance purchase only - not available at the gate
Parking, $10 (auto)
Box office hours after the fair opens: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday