Mid-State Fair

How the Mid-State Fair is preparing for Garth Brooks — and 50,000 fairgoers

Garth Brooks sings “Ain’t Going Down” during a 2016 concert at Yankee Stadium in New York. Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, will perform Thursday at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.
Garth Brooks sings “Ain’t Going Down” during a 2016 concert at Yankee Stadium in New York. Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, will perform Thursday at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. Associated Press

The thunder will roll Thursday when country star Garth Brooks performs two sold-out shows at the California Mid-State Fair.

“We are more excited than we can believe,” fair CEO Michael Bradley said, putting Brooks in the same pop culture pantheon as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. “How much more thrilling does it get than that?”

Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, will kick off their first concert at Chumash Grandstand Arena promptly at 7:30 p.m., then take the stage for a second show at 10:30 p.m. There’s no opening act.

Concertgoers will have plenty of chances to get close to the country stars, thanks to an extended stage and risers extending past large bleacher units to the left and right of the stage, fair spokesman Tom Keffury said.

As many as 50,000 people are expected to flood into the fairgrounds on Thursday, Keffury said — 10,000 to 15,000 more fairgoers than usual.

In response, the fair is significantly increasing its number of free shuttle buses and stepping up traffic, security and crowd control efforts with the help of local law enforcement and a pair of private companies. Landmark Event Staffing Services, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, will assist with planning and coordination, while San Luis Obispo firm Miller Event Management will also lend support, Bradley said.

Keffury said about 60 to 80 fair event staffers will be on hand Thursday, nearly double the usual amount.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office will have additional officers patrolling the fairgrounds, while the Paso Robles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol will team up with police officers from as far away as Santa Maria to keep traffic moving.

The CHP is planning extra DUI patrols, CHP Officer Patrick Seebart said, and will have officers stationed at 24th Street and Riverside Avenue and Highway 46 East and Airport Road — something that agency has never done before.

Brooks, who’s making his Paso Robles Event Center debut, has already made fair history.

On June 23, ticket buyers — the majority of them local fans — snatched up all 14,875 seats for his first concert show less than 30 seconds after they went on sale on Ticketmaster.com, making it the fair’s fastest-selling show ever. Less than a week later, Brooks’ second fair concert sold out in less than a minute.

The California Mid-State Fair runs through July 30 at the Paso Robles Event Center. For more information, call 1-800-909-FAIR (3247) or visit www.midstatefair.com/fair.

Know before you go

Here’s what you need to know about Garth Brooks’ concerts Thursday at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.

Last-minute tickets. As of Wednesday evening, concert tickets were available via Ticketmaster.com and secondary sites — some for as low as $9.

Arrive early. Factor in extra time to drive, park, grab a shuttle and make your way through security at one of four public entrance gates. Fairgoers must pass through metal detectors before entering the fairgrounds, and weapons aren’t allowed onsite, so leave your pocket knives at home.

Buy fair admission ticket ahead of time. Garth Brooks concert tickets don’t include fair admission. So snag those tickets online at www.midstatefair.com, or in person at the Paso Robles Event Center. Bring cash to speed up the process.

Get a free ride. Instead of roaming the streets for hours in search of overpriced parking, park and ride for free. Free shuttle buses will pick up and drop off fairgoers at the following Paso Robles locations starting at noon:

  • State Farm, 20th and Spring streets
  • Citibank, 16th and Spring streets
  • Bank of America, 15th and Spring streets
  • Courtyard by Marriott, 120 S. Vine St.
  • City Hall, 1000 Spring St.

Shuttle buses will also stop at three additional parking lots opening at 5 p.m. Thursday:

  • SpringHillSuites by Marriott, 900 El Camino Real, Atascadero
  • Paso Robles Municipal Airport, 4912 Wing Way, Paso Robles
  • Paso Robles Horse Park, 3801 Hughes Parkway, Paso Robles

A total of 48 shuttle buses — 36 more than normal — will run continuously through the day, remaining in operation until 4 a.m. Friday. (Unfortunately, Thursday tickets are sold out for AmericanStar Trailways shuttles offering trips to and from Arroyo Grande, Nipomo and San Luis Obispo.)

Take Uber. Drivers will pick up and drop off passengers using ridesharing services at a designated station on 19th Street, adjacent to Pioneer Park in Paso Robles. Limousines and taxis are staging on the west side of Riverside Avenue, across from the fairgrounds, and there’s a handicap drop-off zone north of the fair ticket sales office on Riverside Avenue.

Don’t get a fine. Public parking is prohibited on Riverside Avenue between 16th and 24th streets in Paso Robles.

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