Break out the boots and cowboy hats.
The California Mid-State Fair officially kicked off Wednesday in Paso Robles.
This year’s theme is “Let’s Have S’more Fun,” and the fair’s got a collection of new attractions to go along with all the time-honored favorites.
Before you go, here’s what you need to know — and tips on what you don’t want to miss.
This creepy-crawly new attraction is sure to delight some fairgoers — and terrify others.
Located at the fair’s Edna Valley Barn, the free Camp Rattlesnake showcases one of the West’s most iconic reptiles. There’s even a rattlesnake pit when you can see the slithering snakes up close.
“Children can see, touch and learn about captive-raised reptiles, amphibians and arthropods from the near and far places of our world” at an “Indiana Jones”-themed laboratory, the fair website says. Other exhibitions include a live alligator and hatching snake eggs.
New carnival rides at the fair this summer include Insomniac, a high-speed spinning ride, and the Americana Wheel, an American flag-spangled Ferris wheel.
For the little ones, there are the truck-themed Convoy, the Firehouse Fun House, spinning Tea Cups and Crazy Dumbos, which features flying elephants. Helm & Sons is also introducing a gummy bear-themed inflatable attraction.
Unlimited ride wristbands cost $40 apiece.
Looking for a cool new way to beat the heat at the fair?
Check out the free Chill Zone, located in the Frontier Town section at the southwest end of the fairgrounds.
Giant fans, overhead misters and huge blocks of crystal-clear ice will keep fairgoers frosty while they wager how long it will take the 8.1-ton ice cube to melt in the summer heat.
There’s also an ice saloon where you can enjoy beers and cocktails.
Did you snag tickets to the 2019 fair’s hottest concert? Concertgoers and resellers snapped up all 14,875 tickets to Cardi B’s Saturday show less than two hours after they went on sale in February.
Country star Blake Shelton’s Sunday concert also sold out. But don’t worry — there are still tickets available for several fair shows, including punk rocker Billy Idol, Motown singer Smokey Robinson, country rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and country acts Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion and the Zac Brown Band.
The fair’s Chumash Grandstand Arena lineup kicks off with Lambert on Wednesday.
Admission to fair concerts costs $26 to $131.
There are also free concerts planned every night of the fair, including Smash Mouth, Berlin featuring Terri Nunn, Elton John the Early Years, and 12-year-old country star Mason Ramsey, who rose to fame thanks to viral video of his yodeling.
From the Country Rodeo Finals to the Junior Livestock Auction, animals are an essential part of the fair.
Animal attractions in 2019 include a petting zoo, pony rides and pig races.
But those cute critters can come with a health risk. In 2018, several people tested positive for influenza after having “extended contact with pigs at the Mid-State Fair,” The Tribune reported at the time.
In hopes of preventing a similar outbreak, the fair is taking new measures, including requiring all hogs to be vaccinated for swine flu.
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department urges fairgoers to avoid close face-to-face contact with animals, supervise children around animals and wash their hands after petting animals or touching anything in areas where those animals stay. You should also leave livestock areas to enjoy food and drinks, the agency said.
Shuttles and party bus
Don’t want to worry about parking at the fairgrounds?
You can catch free shuttles to the California Mid-State Fair from three locations in Atascadero and six in Paso Robles.
In Atascadero, rides depart from Sunken Gardens at 6505 El Camino Real, Smart & Final at 8200 El Camino Real and SpringHill Suites by Marriott at 900 El Camino Real. Shuttle service starts at 4 p.m. daily, with buses running every 30 to 40 minutes.
In Paso Robles, shuttle service is available on the west side of the city from Courtyard by Marriott at 120 South Vine, City Hall at 1000 Spring St. and Bank of America at 1511 Spring St.
On the east side of Paso Robles, you can board buses at Lowe’s Home Improvement at 2445 Golden Hill Road, Paso Robles High School at 801 Niblick Road and Albertson’s at 189 Niblick Road.
Shuttles in Paso Robles run every 30 to 40 minutes starting at noon — or every 15 minutes after 5 p.m.
Folks who want to travel to the fair in style can board a party bus that departs at 5 p.m. daily from Colony Market and Deli, 6404 El Camino Real in Atascadero. Round-trip tickets cost $28.50 to $37.50, and include general fair admission and a drink.
Wine, beer and cocktail competitions
Want to drink in the best California has to offer? Head to the fair’s Mission Square.
At Friday’s Gold Medal Tasting and Wine Industry Awards, 48 wineries from across the state will pour winning wines from the 2019 Central Coast Wine Competition.
Following the tasting, the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Collective will crown the winery of the year — as well as the top winemaker, grape grower and wine industry personnel.
Cocktails are the focus of Sunday’s Get Crafty Mixology Contest and Tasting.
Master mixologists will create custom drinks featuring winning spirits from the 2019 Central Coast Craft Spirit Competition.
On July 24, the Central Coast Brewers Guild presents the second annual Craft Beer Tasting and Awards, featuring beers from 14 brewers.
Tickets for each event cost $30 to $40.
The Mid-State Fair runs through July 28 at the Paso Robles Event Center. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children. For more information, call 805-239-0655 or 800-909-FAIR (3247), or visit www.midstatefair.com.