The California Mid-State Fair is revving up for opening day Wednesday, which will mark the debut of a bevvy of new rides, attractions and food.
The annual 12-day event — held July 19-30 at the Paso Robles Event Center — is in the midst of an expansion that’s brought four newly constructed areas to the fairgrounds, including a revamped food court, a children’s activity section and a live entertainment area.
From pony rides to ice cream sandwiches, here are 10 new things to check out at the Mid-State Fair.
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1. Lucky livestock
Kids and their animals are enjoying their new digs at the new Paso Robles Pavilion, funded by the California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation. Completed in July, the structure features 100,000 square feet of covered event space, replacing three old, outdated barns.
2. New rides and cheaper tickets
Carnival provider Helm and Sons Inc. of Colton took over the fair’s rides this year, bringing a few new attractions and less-pricey tickets. Go for a spin on thrill ride Star Dancer or water flume ride Big Splash — tickets cost 50 cents apiece, although most rides require more than one. Unlimited ride wristbands run visitors $35.
3. Revamped food court and new eats
The new Midway Food Court will feature more shaded areas where guests can sit and eat without melting in the hot North County sun. Chow down on an ice cream sandwich from Batch or a lobster dog from Baja Lobster, and check out returners Bloomin’ Onion, Jamba Juice, Rico’s Mexican Food and Ruthie’s Tater Tots.
4. Turkeys galore
Turkeys will invade the new Rancho Frontier area, which will play host to the Wild West Turkey Stampede. A group of athletic gobblers will dash to the finish line after a remote-controlled mini-truck during three daily races held at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Grab a seat early to get the best view of the action.
5. Cute and cuddly animals
The fair’s new petting zoo allows children and adults alike to pet and feed a variety of animals, including llamas, pygmy goats, pot-bellied pigs, wallabies and sheep. The zoo is free, but bring $1 for a cup of feed.
6. Sun’s out, guns out
Watch a group of muscular athletes perform feats of strength at the fair’s inaugural Strongest Man and Woman Competition, to be held at 1 p.m. on July 30 at the Headliner Stage. Thirty competitors will be divided into lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight divisions to lift large stones, giant tires and metal logs and use ropes to lug truck or beer wagons.
7. Mighty tractors
Behold the power of motor vehicles at the first Tractor & Truck Pull, to be held 7:30 p.m. on July 30 at the Chumash Grandstand Arena. Trucks and tractors, including Cal Poly’s Mustang Legacy tractor, will lug a 40,000-pound sled down a 300-foot track in front of cheering crowds.
8. Pony up
Youngsters can saddle up and take a trot around a pony ring in the new Rancho Frontier area. Rides cost $7, and photos are available for an additional $10.
9. Live spray-painting
Each day of the fair, spray paint mural artist Ryan “Arcy” Christenson will create new works of art on 8-by-12-foot canvases. Visitors can watch Christenson at work every day throughout the day in the fair carnival area.
10. Cub Country
This year, the fair has a section exclusively for children in the Rancho Frontier area. Cub Country features a bounce house, carousel and other family-friendly rides.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect number of days for the fair.
Wednesday at the Mid-State Fair
Here are our top picks for Wednesday:
Parade on the midway, 4 p.m.
The “Biggest Little Parade” will help to kick off this year’s California Mid-State Fair and illustrate the “Come One, Come All” theme.
Talent show, 5 p.m.
Something you can only see on the first day: The talent show. Cheer on your favorite participants at the Headliner Stage.
Watermelon-eating contest, 6 p.m.
Show up at 5:45 p.m. in the new Rancho Frontier area to sign up for this first-come, first-served contest. Participants must be at least 7 years old to compete.
Lionel Richie with Stanaj, 7:30 p.m.
With an Oscar, a Golden Globe and four Grammy Awards to his credit, Lionel Richie is a music icon. His special guest will be Los Angeles-based vocalist Stanaj. Tickets for the Chumash Grandstand Arena show start at $51.
Blue Öyster Cult, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Blue Öyster Cult has been entertaining fans for more than four decades with hits such as “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You.” This Frontier Stage show is free with fair admission.