State Fair

All the new State Fair offerings: wine tastings, silent discos, coasters and acai bowls

Bee interns sample new food offerings at the 2018 California State Fair

Sacramento Bee interns review some of the new food offerings at the 2018 California State Fair – including deep-fried canoli, bison ribs, and some bacon-wrapped veggies.
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Sacramento Bee interns review some of the new food offerings at the 2018 California State Fair – including deep-fried canoli, bison ribs, and some bacon-wrapped veggies.

Is there a better way to pack everything the Golden State has to offer in one place?

The State Fair kicks off Friday at Cal Expo with the best of California, and the variety of food, music, rides, exhibits and offerings should more than excite die-hard fairgoers and newcomers alike.

Visitors to this year’s fair can expect classic entertainment, such as pie eating contests and petting zoos, as well as novel experiences such as a National Geographic photography exhibit called “Future of Food” and an acre-sized walkable forest with a chainsaw-carving demonstration. If the fidget spinner theme didn’t tip you off, the fair is geared toward families and samples the best of what this big state represents.

Here are a few of the many things worth checking out through July 29:

Taste some of California’s finest flavors

For the regulars, a yearly visit to the fair can still offer new experiences, thanks to a variety of tasting classes being offered this year.

Whether you’re an extra virgin olive oil connoisseur, a farm-to-fork fan or just want to expand your palette, a series of new 30-minute sessions will introduce you to flavors and notes your palette might be missing. Sessions in wine, beer, cheese, honey and olive oil tasting are offered multiple times a day. Choose from basic courses like “California Cheezin” or “Learn how to taste honey!” or more focused ones like “The Mysteries of Wine Service Explained” and “The Secret of Olive Oil Virginity”

Wine tasting courses cost $10 and cheese, beer, honey and olive oil courses cost $5 a person. The full schedule and tickets are available online.

New spots to cool off

Last year brought the heat with the hottest July on record for Sacramento. If fairgoers are wary about another scorcher, there are plenty of spots to escape the heat and sun at this year’s fair.

The all new Silent Disco is one cool place to cool off. Located in Expo Center Building 1, the air-conditioned space is the place to jam out with friends or kids. Personal headphones let you stream one of three channels to let loose to.

Kid-friendly music plays until 5 p.m. daily when a DJ battle begins and three artists will mix their own channel, vying for your attention and dance moves.

Free with admission, the Silent Disco is open from noon until 10 p.m. daily.

The California State Fair has 20 cooling stations with misters and cell phone chargers for fair visitors to cool off. Or you can try the two spray stations or the "silent disco," which is new for 2018.

Test your nerves on four new rides

Adrenaline junkies know the State Fair as a destination for wild rides, and there are four new ones to experience.

“Turbo,” which looks like a souped-up windmill, may have been what noted rapper Flo Rida was contemplating when he sang “You spin my head right round, right round.”

“Inversion,” a merry-go-round on steroids, forces riders to learn the difference between the words “rotation” (spinning around an internal axis) and “revolution” (spinning around an external axis) because it does both, and goes upside-down too.

To be clear, these rides are not for anyone with a weak stomach, but if you want to feel the wind in your hair or practice your screams, they’re the way to go.

Fried delights meet vegetable juices

Yes, the deep fried cannoli is still there and, yes, there are bacon-drenched french fries, but this year, the fair is providing healthier fare for those who don’t want to indulge exclusively in gut-inflating favorites.

At Good Roots Cafe, fresh produce juices like 24 Carrot Magic and Just Beet It go down smoothly and sweetly. They’re also selling Instagram-worthy acai bowls. And among the food stands in the Coca-Cola Promenade, grinders can turn their subs into fresh salads.

Don’t fear, carnivores. You can still get your meat fix with Montana Q’s bison ribs — or try their pulled pork, mac and cheese, coleslaw and BBQ sauce sandwich.

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