Found: Best of the California State Fair

By the Editors

When it’s 105 degrees in the shade it can only mean one thing – time for the 159th California State Fair!

As usual, there are hundreds of events and activities to enjoy. Oddly enough, there are even some kids’ rides from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Park.

Overwhelmed by all of the choices? GOTG’s top picks are below:

The Basics

  • Fair Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11:00am-10:00pm and Fri-Sat: 10:00am-10:00pm
  • Directions and parking info here. $10/day
  • Map of the fairgrounds can be found here.
  • Ticket Prices (buy them online here): Adults-$12, Children 5-12 years-$8 and Seniors-$10. You can also buy a wristband for unlimited rides for $30 Monday-Friday and $35 Saturday-Sunday.
  • Tuesday Discount: Kids under the age of 12 get free admission. $1 carnival rides for everyone.
  • Weds Discount: $6 admission and $15 unlimited carnival rides for everyone (courtesy of Wells Fargo).
  • Follow all the action on Facebook and Twitter.


  • All day – Be sure and partake from the 10,500-gallon Guinness World Record-setting Calarita” Margarita! Over 500 gallons have been consumed so far! Anyone 21 and older can purchase a filled 16-ounce souvenir cup for $10 or a filled 16-ounce souvenir shaker for $15. Drinks are just $5 each during Calarita Happy Hour, which is 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • All day – Monster Truck Rides ($5) (XTreme Zone) – Bonus, it’s also wheelchair accessible!
  • All day – Operation Postcard (free) (Cool Zone) – Honor our military by writing messages and notes of encouragement – cards will be mailed to all branches of the military.
  • All day – Toytopia (free) (Expo Center, Building 5) – For the kid in all of us, this exhibit features retro arcade games, life-size stuffed animals, and a giant doll house.
  • All day – California Fine Art exhibit (free) (Building 7) – From paintings and sculptures to photography and print-making, this gallery (and juried competition) is one of California’s oldest and most prestigious.
  • 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:30pm – Freestyle Motorcross (free) (XTreme Zone) – DJ music and an emcee calling tricks give an up-close and personal look at extreme freestyle motocross riding.

Thursday, July 19

  • 8:00pm – Rick Springfield ($19) (Golden1 Stage) (General viewing of all concerts during the State Fair is free with fair admission)

Saturday, July 21

  • All day – BloodSource Day (outside of California Building A) – Donate blood, tour the mobile unit and join the National Blood Marrow Registry (Quick cheek swab that goes into a database. You’ll be contacted if you’re a match!)
  • 7:00-9:00pm – Demolition Derby ($5) (Horse/Rodeo Arena) – Long work week? Blow off some steam by watching cars beat the crap out of each other (guaranteed great people watching too!).

Friday, July 27

Saturday, July 28

  • The Calarita Margarita – Over 10,000 gallons of cold deliciousness!

    5:00pm-8:00pm – BrewFest ($15) (Golden1 Stage) – Ticket price gets you ten 5 ounce tastings/samples of award winning brews from the State Fair’s Craft Brew Competition. Bonus – You get to keep the mug as a souvenir.

  • 8:00pm – Stung, the ultimate Sting cover band (free) (Promenade Stage)

Sunday, July 29

  • 3:00pm-7:00pm – Golden Bear Amateur Boxing (free) (Golden1 Stage) – Over 60 rounds of scheduled boxing and more than two dozen amateur male and female boxers and sport celebrities!

What’d we miss – what are you most excited about attending? Leave a comment below!

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