Big Fresno Fair back in-person with new attractions

One of the regular carnival rides at the Big Fresno Fair. (Larry Valenzuela/The Collegian)

Carnivals and concerts, dancing horses and sprinting pigs – the Big Fresno Fair is back and it has it all.

Last year the fair only featured drive-thru style eats, but this year it is back in its full glory. The dozen days of distractions begin Wednesday, Oct. 6.

Several new events are coming to the fair this year including The Livin’ Local Marketplace, featuring local hand-crafted artisanal goods and locally grown foods. The Food Truck Alley is also joining the 2021 fair with alternating food trucks each day.

The Fresno Fair is also welcoming a new comic-con themed attraction. The Pop! Culture Experience will host multiple vendors, a gaming museum and gaming and virtual reality stations. There will also be Super Smash Bros. and FIFA ’21 tournaments that gamers can sign up to compete in. 

The midway has always been a fan-favorite, but this year it is revamping its reputation with new rides and new food. Try the new churro ice cream sandwiches from Churro Zone or gorge on buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese-stuffed ice cream cones from Chicken Charlies.

In addition to unique cuisine, the carnival will feature professional theatrical presentations by The Stilt Circus, magicians, clowns, unicyclists and ventriloquists.

The BMX Pros Trick Team will also be performing daily at the grounds. The traveling extreme sports stunt team is made up of X Games professionals. Their action-packed performances and all other midway shows are free.

Check out the local talent on display at the competitive exhibits. Fine art, floriculture and baked goods are just a few of the award-winning categories. 

Take a journey back to past exhibitions by visiting The Big Fresno Fair Museum. The Fresno County Historical Museum is also open daily and free of charge. A satellite exhibit featuring restored vintage neon signs will be on display around the perimeter of the Paul Paul Theater.

Nightly concerts kick off Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the neon-lit stage. Rock, country, hip-hop, Christian and Mexican bands will be performing. A full lineup and ticket prices are available on the fair website.

Live music and other performances are shown daily at The Save Mart Wine & Beer Garden, The O’Reilly Pavilion, The Craft Brew Court, The Blue Moon Yosemite Station and The Mexican Heritage Patio.

Dance to the beat on one of the many dancefloors or sit back and enamor yourself with the team of dancing horses. Los Caporales de Fresno performs every Sunday of the fair in the Brian I. Tatarian Grandstands.

On the last night of the fair, bull riding and live music will take over the arena. Tickets for Banda Machos Y Gran Jaripeo are on sale now.

Horse racing begins Oct. 8 at the same location. Watch from the deck or be close to the action and spectate for free from the ground level. 

Fans can place bets at The Starting Gate or online through mobile apps Xpressbet, DRF, TVG or Twinspires.

After horsing around fairgoers can watch Alaskan pigs race on their own miniature track. This team of eight competes daily at the Jr. Exhibits & Home Arts Lawn.

Can’t get enough of the fair animals? Fairgoers can buy one of their own and support the National FFA Organization. This Saturday at 10 a.m. 4-H students are auctioning rabbits and chickens.

Fair fans can enter their pets into the Oct. 17 Derby Dog Dash. Entrants get into the fair for free and winners receive a cash prize.

Another way to receive a reduced fair fee is by donating a pint of blood to the local blood bank. Donors receive a voucher for an extra ticket with the purchase of one ticket.

Donations are critical as the country is currently experiencing a blood shortage. Anyone in good health, who is over 110 pounds and 18 or older, can donate and help save lives.

General admission to the fair is $12. Gates are open from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

Masks are required indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. Face coverings are recommended but not required outside.

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