California State Fair is in full swing this weekend. Here’s where to go and how to save money

The California State Fair kicked off Friday and is in full swing this weekend.

Event organizers have loaded the first three days at Cal Expo with a slew of events, exhibits, concerts and other performances.

Here’s the rundown on all the can’t-miss events – from Drag Queen Bingo to Chinese acrobats – this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Plus, find out how to spend the least while getting the most out of California State Fair’s myriad offerings.


Friday’s events kick off with a honey tasting class with Orietta Gianjorio, a professional taster from Rome, Italy. Gianjorio will lead a honey tasting and teach participants how to recognize honey quality standards. Attendees of this 5 p.m. workshop will learn how to taste, smell, and look at honey to detect differing honey quality grades. The class costs $5.

Sign up for more classes here, including olive oil and wine tasting courses.

Other noteworthy events include the Splash Dogs show at 5 p.m., where visitors can witness dogs running, jumping, and splashing into a giant pool of water. After that, catch me&you – a brother-and-sister Americana folk band from Sacramento at the Promenade Stage at 5:15 p.m. Later in the evening, watch performances from the Acrobats of Hebei China and two-time Grammy nominees Plain White T’s.

Concert tickets are free, but seats can be reserved in advance for $15 on the fair’s website.


Saturday is full of events – here are ones you shouldn’t miss.

At 6 p.m., watch the 2019 State Fair Food Festival Competitions Awards, hosted by ABC10’s Mark Allen. Judges will announce the champions in categories like sides, entrees, fruity, fried and dessert — as well as winners of overall gold, silver and bronze awards.

Chef Dave Nelson will host a live kitchen show at 6:30 pm showing you how to “get the most from your veggies.” Nelson’s mission is to teach attendees the “nuts and bolts” of cooking.

Other events include a silent disco, a rabbit show, and a performance by Mane Event, where you can watch acrobats on horseback take on the persona of artists like Freddie Mercury and Ariana Grande.

At 8 p.m., don’t miss Queen tribute band Queen Nation on the Golden 1 Stage. Reserve seats for free here.

For more details on these events, visit the fair’s website.


The fair’s third day kicks off with a dance performance by Hui o Hawai’i at noon, followed by Drag Queen Bingo. At the Horse Arena, check out Nu Balance Novice, where children from ages 3 to 13 perform gymnastics on horseback.

At 6 p.m., you can watch the final round of a cooking competition where amateur chefs will craft a three-course, homestyle meal using mystery ingredients in front of a panel of judges.

The night will end with a performance by TLC at the Golden 1 Stage. Tickets are free with fair admissiion, but you can reserve seats for $25 here.


The State Fair also has several promotions for discounted and free tickets.

Students in kindergarten through 8th grade who read two books can earn two free ride tickets any day of the fair.

Adults with a driver’s license can test drive Teslas and other electric cars through Saturday to earn a free ticket to the fair.

And if you buy a $28 food festival pass, you can choose 4 items worth $40 from over 30 options from bacon cinnamon rolls to pizza funnel cake. Visit the fair website for more details.


  • Enter from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The carnival stays open until midnight.

  • Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for kids ages 5 to 12. Children and under get in for free.

  • Parking is $15. The main gate is at Exposition Boulevard and Heritage Way, and the Blue Gate and Rodeo Gate are on Exposition Boulevard and Challenge Way. Each gate has nearby parking.

  • If you need to rent a wheelchair or scooter for the event, visit this website.

  • You can bring outside food onto the fairgrounds, but no outside alcohol is allowed.

  • If you become separated from your child or family, State Fair officials would like you to contact Cal Expo police at (916) 263-3050.

Elliot Wailoo, from Yale University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee interested in prison systems, police, and education. He is originally from New Jersey.
Candice Wang, from Yale, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee interested in climate change, sustainability, socioeconomic inequality, and culture. She grew up in Connecticut.