State Fair

Selfies and vegan nachos? Here’s what’s new and interesting at the California State Fair

The California State Fair is just around the corner.

From amusement park rides to endless picture taking opportunities and delicious fair food, the State Fair is back with new attractions, entertainment and discounts. We put together a list of all the things you should look out for this year.

What’s New?

Selfies at the State Fair will receive an upgrade this year with the Bank of America Selfie Experience produced by Stage 9 Exhibits. Fair-goers can take pictures with a myriad of eccentric installations: a Willy Wonka inspired candy land, the dinosaur-themed “Jurassic Dark,” a giant rainbow ball pit and more. The exhibit is free with fair admission.

If you’re a video game enthusiast, you can take your selfies to the first-ever Bear Cup Esports Tournament, featuring professional esports teams Kings Guard Gaming, San Francisco Shock and NRG Esports. You can play in tournaments against other fair-goers, watch professionals play, learn about gaming careers and see high-tech equipment. Find the schedule to meet Esports legends on the State Fair website.

No new rides. Instead, experience Stranger Things

Although there are no new rides scheduled to debut this year, over 50 options will be available to fair-goers.

Highlights include the Big Top Fun House which was featured on the current season of Stranger Things, a Netflix sci-fi series about an alternate dimension called “the upside down.” Most popular rides from past years include the Giant Wheel, a 100-foot-tall Ferris wheel and the White Water Flume Ride, a floating log ride with rapid thrill and a guaranteed splash.

With an unlimited ride wristband, you can ride as many times as you want for $30 Monday through Thursday. (Wristbands exclude the Sky Ride and monorail.)

Concert Series

Grammy-nominated rock band The Plain White T’s will kick off the State Fair Toyota Concert Series of free musical performances at 8 p.m. on July 12. Here is the lineup for this year:

Friday: Plain White T’s

Saturday: Queen Nation

Sunday: TLC

Monday: Def Leppard Tribute

Tuesday: Clay Walker

Wednesday: The Marshall Tucker Band

Thursday: Petty and the Heartshakers

Friday, July 19: Sean Kingston

Saturday, July 20: Joe Nichols

Sunday, July 21: Mariachi Vargas and the Statewide High School Mariachi Competition

Monday, July 22: The Boys of Summer – Music of the Eagles

Tuesday, July 23: 38 Special

Wednesday, July 24: We Are Messengers

Thursday, July 25: California Surf, Incorporated

Friday, July 26: Tony! Toni! Tone!

Saturday, July 27: Journey Revisited

Sunday, July 28: Martina McBride

Concerts are free with fair admission and the seats are first-come, first-served. Reserved seating can be purchased for $15 to $25 on the official State Fair concerts page.

New vegan option and Food Festival passes

Would the State Fair be complete without delicious fair food? New to the fair is a discounted festival pass. For $28, you can choose four tickets to be redeemed at 30 participating vendors, with everything from a deep-fried banana hot dog to a Hot Cheetos chicken burrito.

You can buy your Food Festival pass online, at the box office, or at the State Fair souvenir shops.

Fair food this year also comes with a vegan twist. Frik’n Vegan will be offering vegan Philly cheese steak sandwiches and vegan nachos, both redeemable with a Food Festival Pass or available for purchase on an individual basis.

Free and discounted days

There are a number of free and discounted options for seniors, first responders, and military veterans:

Every Friday, senior citizens 62 and older pay only $10 admission and get to ride free on the Grand Carousel and the Giant Wheel (Ferris wheel).

For active duty or reserve military personnel and veterans, admission is free on Thursday, July 18 with valid ID. The offer includes active-duty spouses and dependents until 3 p.m.

On Thursday, July 25, active members of first-responder units, including law enforcement, firefighters and life guards, can attend the fair for free with valid ID. The offer does not include family members, dependents, and administrative personnel.

Children K-8th grade can read two books and receive two free ride tickets in the Read to Ride program. To participate, you must read two books approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher, and write a brief summary. Present a form from the State Fair website, signed and completed, to guest services on any day of the fair and you can ride up to two rides for free every day.

Lastly, on SMUD giving Mondays, you can donate to your community and attend the fair for free. To receive free admission, bring three (or more) nonperishable items between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 15 and July 22. All goods will be donated to The Elk Grove Food Bank to support the food insecure in the Sacramento region.

Read a list of most-needed items here.

The California State Fair will run from Friday, July 12, to Sunday, July 28. For additional information, visit the official State Fair website at

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