Your Guide to the California State Fair
July 10, 2024

Your Guide to the California State Fair

A day spent at the California State Fair is a Sacramento summer tradition. This year, the California State Fair will be held July 12–28 at Cal Expo in the Arden Arcade area. Whether you’re an adrenaline lover looking for the thrills of the midway, a music lover hoping to catch some live music, or a foodie wanting to try the latest deep-fried treat, the following is everything you need to know about the California State Fair.

The Basics

California State Fair Admission Tickets

Adults: $16, $14 in advance

Ages 62 & older: $12, $10 in advance

Kids 5–12: $10, $8 in advance

Kids 4 & under: FREE

Parking: $15

Tuesdays: Kids under 12 are FREE!

Rides at the State Fair

To many, the main draw of the state fair is the midway! This year, there are more than four dozen rides to check out, from wild roller coasters to a drop tower, as well as mellow rides for the littlest ones, such as slides and the carousel. There’s even a dedicated kids park for the youngest riders. Following are the carnival hours:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 2 p.m.–11 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday: 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

Carnival Ride Tickets.

$1/each. Rides cost around 3–4 tickets each.

Unlimited ride wristbands: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: $39 each. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: $44 each.

Each Tuesday, rides are just $2 per person.

Note: Tickets and wristbands must be purchased at the carnival.

How to Save at the California State Fair

If you’re looking for ways to save at the California State Fair, there are several options. On Tuesdays, kids under 12 get free admission and all rides are just $2 each! Otherwise, there are several packages to choose from:

  • Family Fun Pack: four single-day general admission tickets, four ride tickets (each good for one ride), and one parking pass for $49.99.
  • State Fair Season Pass: Daily State Fair admission for $35.99.
  • Parking Pass: three days for $30 (normally $15/day).
  • Costco: Costco members can pick up “Double the Awe” packages at select locations, which include two general admission tickets, one parking pass, and two $5 food vouchers for $32.99.

There’s also Senior Savings Fridays, when admission for guests 62 and older is just $10; Military, Veteran, and First Responder Appreciation Day July 24, when these visitors get free admission; and SMUD Giving Mondays, when you get free admission if you bring in five non-perishable, non-expired food items between 11 a.m.–3 p.m. July 15 and 22.

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Concerts at the California State Fair

Another huge draw to the state fair is the concert lineup. These FREE events start at 5 p.m. with first-come, first-served seating. You can also reserve seats starting at $25 per person. Following is the lineup for 2024:

  • Friday, July 12: Vanilla Ice with All-4-One
  • Saturday, July 13: Wilson Phillips
  • Sunday, July 14: Cole Swindell
  • Monday, July 15: Queen Nation
  • Tuesday, July 16: Zapp
  • Wednesday, July 17: WAR
  • Thursday, July 18: Chris Young
  • Friday, July 19: 90s Rewind with Tone Loc, C&C Music Factory, and Digital Underground
  • Saturday, July 20: Patty LaBelle
  • Sunday, July 21: Viva El Mariachi
  • Monday, July 22: Kenny Cetera’s Chicago Experience
  • Tuesday, July 23: Flo Rida
  • Wednesday, July 24: Bush
  • Thursday, July 25: Lukas Nelson
  • Friday, July 26: The Beach Boys
  • Saturday, July 27: Mickey Guyton
  • Sunday, July 28: UB40 featuring Ali Campbell

Of course, there are plenty of other entertainment options at the California State Fair as well. There are musicians, dancers, hypnotists, magicians, acrobats, jugglers, stilt walkers and much more!

California State Fair Food

Fried food and the state fair go hand-in-hand. There are dozens of food vendors selling everything from the traditional (corn dogs, funnel cakes, lemonade) to the unique (ceviche, quesabirria, pancakes on a stick). Can’t decide between just one? Many vendors are participating in Taste of the Fair, where you can get a mini version of their most popular items for just $4 each so you can sample them all!

Foodies will also love the many food-related activities at the state fair, which include live cooking demonstrations, kitchen trivia, cooking competitions, and a pie-eating contest. There’s also Taster’s Row, where visitors can learn about the state’s agriculture and food products. There’s also the Best of California Brewfest on Friday, July 19 (separate admission tickets are required) and the Save Mart Wine Garden, where you can sample locally produced wines.

Animals at the California State Fair

The California State Fair is many things to many people, but its heart and soul is agriculture. Naturally, animals are a big part of this, and competitors from across the state showcase their livestock and other animals here. Cows, sheep, goats, and pigs are a few of the animals you’ll find, as well as llamas and alpacas. Smaller animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens are also on display.

Your little ones can get up close and personal with farm animals at the petting zoo, which has goats, llamas, and even wallabies! Have a horse lover in your midst? Check out the Cavalcade of Horses, where you can see different breeds, watch trick riders, be amazed by equestrian aerialists, and even meet mama horses and their babies. And, if you’re the type who prefers a bit of competition, you can watch thoroughbred horse racing at 5 p.m. on the following dates.

  • July 12–14
  • July 19–21
  • July 26–28
Keeping it Cool at the California State Fair

Insiders know the secret to a comfortable day at the state fair is to hit the outdoor attractions early, while it’s still cool, then head indoors to the exhibit hall during the height of the afternoon heat. Luckily, there’s plenty to see indoors. The work of California visual artists is on display, including fine art and photography. You can also browse the student showcase featuring the work of the state’s youngest artisans. Quilts, clothing, ceramics, jewelry, and woodworks are just a few of the things you’ll find here.  

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Other Things to Know About the California State Fair
  • Fireworks. Fireworks shows are held Friday and Saturday nights beginning at 10 p.m.
  • Clear bag policy. Bags must be clear and no larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 2 inches.
  • No unaccompanied minors. Visitors under 18 must be with a parent or guardian over the age of 21.
  • Cooling stations are available throughout the fairgrounds.

So, whether you prefer the thrill of a roller coaster or the indulgences of fried food, the artistry of local craftsmanship or the adorableness (yes, it’s a word!) of baby animals, there truly is something for everyone at the California State Fair. Buy your tickets now and be a part of a Sacramento summer tradition!

Category Local Events

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