2011 Fair: Big Times are Almost Back
Big changes, attractions heading into 127th fair.
It’s that time of year again.
The time when Fresnans look toward Chance Avenue for fun, exhibits, music performances, horse races and deep-fried foods in four words: The Big Fresno Fair.
I spent an hour touring the Big Fresno Fairgrounds and here’s what Fresno can look forward to over the next few weeks.
MAJOR CHANGES FOR THE CARNIVAL
If you were to drive by the fairgrounds, you’d likely see an empty lot where a massive carnival should be. That’s because most of the rides that will be operated at the Big Fresno Fair are still at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar and the OC Fair in Costa Mesa.
Even before the rides get to Fresno, there are still some interesting bits of news.
Most notably, the Kiddie Karnival (or just the Kiddie Rides) will be located on the in-field of the horse racing track, rather than being in the Carnival area next to the underground tunnel connecting the in-field parking from the fairgrounds.
Fair organizers said that the move was done to allow for more space in the Carnival and to accomodate small children and strollers at the Kiddie Carnival.
To get to the Kiddie Carnival, simply take the underground tunnel to the infield.
Along with a change to the kiddie side of the Carnival, the Fair also announced that it would be welcoming an old friend back to the Fresno Fair: Butler Amusements.
Butler served as the amusements company running the Big Fresno Fair carnival from 1981 to 2005, until the Fair contracted with Shamrock Shows for 5 years.
NEW FEATURES AT THE RACES
And we mean the Horse Races. Well, the All-Alaskan Pig Races are coming back, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
The Big Fresno Fair has added some very cool between-the-races entertainment during the race days. On Sundays, the between-race entertainment consists of Ayala’s Dancing Horses.
On Fridays and Saturdays, local competitors, including Fresno State’s Equestrian team, will participate in a obstacle course with Poullsen jumping horses.
And on Saturday, October 15, the Fair will hold the Dog Derby Dash, in which locals can enter small dogs to race for cash and prizes. Got a dog you think could “go the distance?” Enter here.
FAIR OFFERS PRE-FAIR DISCOUNTS
We’re in a pretty bad economy, and even the Fair knows it. So to ensure that everyone can make their way down to the fairgrounds, the Fair is offering a ton of great discounts and free days for Valley residents. Take a look and see what special discounts you can use to cut down the cost
- Save Mart Supermarkets & FoodMaxx Pre-Sale
From Sept. 7 through Oct. 4, purchase fair admission tickets and Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristbands for a discounted price – $2 off admission (all ages) and up to $10 off an unlimited carnival ride wristband.
- Season Pass
Purchase a Season Pass for only $25 and visit the Fair any day you want. Season Passes will be available for purchase until October 4th. Season Passes are non-transferable and a photo ID is required for use. Purchase at (559) 650-FAIR, the Fairgrounds’ Ticket Box Office or here.
- Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristband
Buy an Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristband by Oct. 4th for only $25 (a $10 discount off the regular Fair-time price). Purchase at (559) 650-FAIR, the Fairgrounds’ Ticket Box Office or here.
- Group Pack Discount
Save on admission with the Group Pack, which includes 20 adult admission tickets for $160 ($8 each) good for any day at The Big Fresno Fair, a 20% savings compared to individual admission. That’s a 20% savings! Groups Packs are available for purchase until October 4th. Purchase at (559) 650-FAIR, the Fairgrounds’ Ticket Box Office or here.
- Fresno Bee Day (Wednesday, October 5th)
Free admission on Fresno Bee Day from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. if you’re a Big Fair Fan Club member. Not a BFF member? Then sign up at http://www.FresnoFair.com. Also, enjoy $1 carnival rides all day (the Fair opens at 2 p.m. this day only).
- Eye-Q Seniors’ Day (Monday, October 10th)
Seniors 62 and older are able to enjoy the Fair for free on Eye-Q Seniors’ Day presented by PG&E and Humana. Don’t miss the special Seniors’ Lifestyle Expo from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the grounds featuring local organizations providing materials for public education on services geared toward the senior citizen community, including healthcare, wellness and financial support. Also, don’t miss the special Seniors’ Day contests. Remember, gates open early at 9 a.m. on this day only.
- Special Interest Day (Monday, October 10th)
Admission is free to persons with disabilities. One chaperone is admitted for free with each person that requires assistance. Remember, gates will open early at 9 a.m. on this day only.
- Save Mart Supermarkets & FoodMaxx $2 Tuesday (Tuesday, October 11th)
Bring a receipt from any Save Mart Supermarkets or FoodMaxx location to get $2 admission. Or join The Big Fair Fan Club at http://www.FresnoFair.com and receive a printable coupon via email for the same great deal! One coupon or receipt required for each ticket purchased. Offer valid only on Tuesday, October 11th.
- “Feed the Need” Community Food Drive presented by Kaiser Permanente Fresno (Thursday, October 13th)
Help feed our community and get free admission to the fair. Bring 4 or more canned or non-perishable food items per person between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and receive free admission into the Fair. Food will be donated to The Salvation Army and Community Food Bank.
PWNAGE AT THE FAIRGROUNDS
Are you a gamer and trying to find a reason to go to the fair? Look no further than the Sports Row right next door to the Carnival.
Fair organizers will be setting up a video game pavilion in the Sports Row next to the Carnival and underground tunnel to the infield.
FOOD TO KEEP YOUR EYES, AND DROOL, ON
During my hour-long tour of the Magic Kingdom, I talked to Fair Deputy Manager Stacy Rianda about some of the expectations of the fair. Then she dropped a bomb: the Tuscon-based Sonoran Hot Dogs concessionaires would be selling their “hot dogs on steroids” as the Tuscon Citizen called them.
To boil it down: it’s a hot dog wrapped in bacon inside of a bolillo roll with pinto beans and cheese, chopped tomatoes and other goods that you’d usually find in a burrito.
And Fresno almost missed out. According to Rianda, thanks to one food vendor’s last-minute cancellation, the Sonoran Hot Dogs vendors were able to slip in as an easy replacement.
The Big Fresno Fair spent the last year renovating almost the bathrooms in most of the exhibit buildings to make sure that they’re up to standards.
Even better: there are bathrooms in every single building at the fairgrounds.
WANT MORE OF THE FAIR PREVIEW?
Here’s our downloadable guide to the 2011 Big Fresno Fair: