Nothing says summertime like the California Mid-State Fair.
Wednesday is opening day for the fair, which runs through July 30 at the Paso Robles Event Center. The means plenty of hot days and warm nights of concerts, carnival rides and munching cotton candy while strolling with your sweetie on the Midway.
As you dust off your best belt buckle and get your cowboy boots out of the closet, here are 10 ways to get the most out of your fair experience.
1. Rock out. Garth Brooks isn’t the only big-name act coming to the Chumash Grandstand Arena; the rest range from EDM duo The Chainsmokers to folk-pop crooner John Mayer to country rockers Kid Rock, Keith Urban and Zac Brown Band. Or check out free concerts at the Fort Frontier Stage by classic rock band Blue Öyster Cult, funk group War and country acts Restless Heart and Runaway June.
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2. Go for a spin. From classic fun houses and Ferris wheels to newer attractions like spinning, swinging thrill ride Star Dancer and water flume ride Big Splash, the fair has more than its share of rides and carnival games. Families with small children can head to Cub Country for kid-friendly rides, a carousel and a farm-themed bounce house.
3. Feed your face. Lobster dogs, funnel cakes and bloomin’ onions are just a few of the food offerings at the fair, your source for all things sweet, salty and gloriously greasy. Indulge in drunken venison and duck confit from The Hurricane Kitchen, or satisfy your sweet tooth with an ice cream sandwich from Batch.
4. Rub elbows with royalty. Ten young women are competing to be crowned Miss California Mid-State Fair on Tuesday. Afterward, the fair queen and her court will make daily appearances during the fair, introducing acts and spreading country cheer.
5. Shake a tail feather. Holy galloping gobblers! Fleet-footed fowl race after a remote-controlled mini-truck named Big Red at the Wild West Turkey Stampede, three times daily in the Rancho Frontier area. Looking for a cuter contest? Watch babies battle to reach the finish line at the Diaper Dash on July 25 at the Quad.
6. Cuddle with critters. From pony rides to a petting zoo, there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with our furry, feathered and scaly friends. Check out cute cows, pink pigs and glamorous goats at the Paso Robles Pavilion or get up close with foxes, monkeys and birds of prey at Zoo to You shows, presented at Headliner Stage three times a day from July 20 to 29.
7. Cowboy up. Fairgoers can embrace their inner buckaroos at two rodeo events at the Grandstand Arena. The Country Rodeo Finals on July 29 feature bull riding, barrel racing and roping, while the Mexican-style Fiesta del Charro on July 30 boasts bull fighting, traditional charros (cowboys) and live mariachi bands. Also in store are performances by bull jumper Manu Lataste and freestyle motocross athletes The Flying Cowboyz.
8. Pump iron. See athletes flex their muscles and test their might in the Strongest Man and Woman Competition on July 30 at the Headliner Stage. This brand-new event features men and women performing such feats as hoisting a giant tire, pulling a beer wagon and hefting a metal log overhead.
9. Feel the ground shake. Ground-pounding excitement awaits at the new Tractor & Truck Pull on July 30 at the Grandstand Arena. See vehicles ranging from regular pickup trucks to mighty modified tractors — including Cal Poly’s Mustang Legacy tractor — pull loads of up to 20 tons down a custom-built track.
10. Drink it all in. Thirsty after a long, dusty day of exploring the fairgrounds? Head to the Marketplace or Mission Square for wine, beer, cider and cocktails, plus live music and some prime people watching. Frosty rosé slushies, anyone?
California Mid-State Fair
The California Mid-State Fair runs Wednesday through July 30 at the Paso Robles Event Center, 2198 Riverside Ave. in Paso Robles. For more information about the fair, including a full schedule and admission and ticket prices, call 1-800-909-FAIR (3247) or visit www.midstatefair.com.