California State Fair celebrates 50 years at Cal Expo |

California State Fair celebrates 50 years at Cal Expo

The California State Fair celebrates its 50th year at Cal Expo this year. The idea to move came about because it had outgrown the Fair’s former location on Stockton Blvd. Late Gov. Pat Brown is the one who championed this idea. He collaborated with Walt Disney to draft the plans for the California Exposition and State Fair.

Ever wonder why both Disneyland and Cal Expo have monorails? The original vision was to make Cal Expo the Disneyland of the north.

The California Exposition and State Fairgrounds officially opened in July 1968. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan officiated the opening ceremony. Over the past 50 years, the California State Fair has grown and evolved.

For the State Fair’s golden 50th anniversary there will be new features, as well as nods to the past. For more information, see the website

Opening ceremonies — The 2017 California State Fair opens 9 a.m., Friday, July 14 at the Main Gate at 9 a.m. for live entertainment and a confetti welcome.

Expedition: Dinosaur — 16 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs are taking up residence in two of the Exposition Buildings. Expo Buildings 4 & 5 are where Fairgoers can travel 165 million years into the past to interact with these moving and roaring dinosaurs. This is one of the many free exhibits that are included with the price of admission.

National Weiner Dog Races — There’s not much cuter than eight groups of eight tiny-legged wiener dogs tearing down the racetrack. Wienerschnitzel is hosting that National Wiener Dog races on Saturday, July 15 at the Miller Lite Racetrack Grandstand. The dog races happen between the live thoroughbred horse races that day. The top dog gets a grand prize of $500.

CA Coastal Commission: Whale Tail exhibit — The popular Whale Tail exhibit gets a new home inside (the air conditioned) Expo Building 2. Along with learning about ways to protect the California coastline, which includes a fun video game, guests can interact with rescued animals. There will be the otters “Drip” and “Drop,” a pelican that can’t fish because of a bad eye, an eagle that was shot, a raccoon and a host of other rescued creatures.

Steampunk at the Races — On Friday, July 28 the worlds of horse racing and steampunk collide. At 2 p.m. there will be steampunk costume contest judged by Ave Rose, the winner of the first season of the TV Show “Steampunk’d.”

Tribute to Hollywood Horses — Every night at 7 p.m. the Horse Arena does a special tribute to the horses of Hollywood. The guest stars of the show are the horses from the hit TV Show “The Walking Dead” and the horse from the film “Seabiscuit.”

More thoroughbred horse racing — New this year, Kentuck-Derby style horse racing takes place every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Miller Lite Racetrack Grandstand.

Farm to Glass — Located right next to the Save Mart Wine Garden, Fairgoers get to learn about how the ingredients that make beer, wine, and spirits go from the farm to the glass.

Wine Experience classes — This is a ticketed event that happens every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday next to the Save Mart California’s Kitchen. For $20, small groups can get in-depth knowledge of what makes a “good” wine.

Olive Oil Experience classes — Similar to the Wine Experience Classes, this happens every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday next to the Save Mart California’s Kitchen. The very first class will be entirely in Spanish.

Salute to Farmworkers Exhibit — California is the richest agricultural state in the country. In this exhibit we highlight the contributions of farmworkers.

Ballet Folklorica — Sunday, July 16 in the Show Arena witness the beautiful colors, music, and cultural dances.

Time Capsule — If you have an incredible Fair item from years past enter to have it placed in the time capsule. The capsule will be opened in 50 years, which means you may not get that item back.

#50thFairHunt — A fun scavenger hunt on our official CA State Fair app takes you all over the fairgrounds. Take photos on your phone at 9 special locations, and show your complete photo card to get a fun prize.

Video Show on the Water Tower — When the lights go down, look up to the iconic Water Tower to see a fun video show projected. This starts every night of Fair at 8:45 p.m.

Bike Valet — On Saturdays ride your bike to the Fair and receive a free valet from 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. The valet is located off of the American River Parkway near Papa Murphy’s Park.

2 soccer matches – There will two Sacramento Republic FC games happening at Fair this year. The first is on Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. It’s a special international match against CF Pachuca from Mexico. The second game is on Sunday, July 23 at 8 p.m. against the Seattle Sounders FC. A ticket to either match includes admission to the Fair.


$2 Taste of the Fair — Every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. vendors will have sample-sized items available for only $2.

Best of California Brewfest — This ticketed, 21 and older event happens on Saturday, July 22. The winners of the California State Fair Commercial Beer Competition will pour their winning brews.

California State Corn Hole Championships — On Saturday, July 29 at the Miller Lite Race Track Grandstands. Teams of two compete to see who is the best. Winners get cash prizes and bragging rights.

Sky Ride — The best way to travel and see the Fair is back. One way tickets are $5, or $7 for an all day pass.

Award-winning wine and craft beer areas — The Save Mart Wine Garden is expanding its footprint. This is where you can find the tasty wine sushies, which also has a brand new serving area.

Community Stage — Sit back and listen to some of the best local musicians and artists.

Save Mart California’s Kitchen — This is where the cooking action gets fierce. All of the cooking competitions such as the MRE Challenge, Dinner 911 Challenge, Pro-Chef Challenge takes place.

Kaiser Permanente Farm with official CA State Fair Chef Keith Breedlove — Chef Keith is back for a third year as the CA State Fair’s official chef. He will host daily demonstrations out at The Grill in The Farm. It doesn’t get more Farm-to-Fork than this.

Sale of Champions — On Sunday, July 16 witness the excitement of a live livestock auction. Youth will have their prized animals auctioned to the highest bidder.

Apps for Ag — Students compete in a shark-tank style event to come up with an app that benefits agriculture on Sunday, July 30. The winning pitch gets the funding and resources to build and launch their app.

Day of Flowers — On Sunday, July 23 the CA State Floral Association hosts this beautiful day that features floral design competitions, a children’s floral showcase and an edible flower chef showdown.

Jaripeo — Sunday, July 30 a rodeo and music event with Spanish flavor. This is a ticketed event that happens in the Show Arena.

Poppy’s Birthday — On Tuesday, July 18 celebrate the CA State Fair mascot Poppy. There will be live entertainment and FREE cupcakes.

Corndog Eating Contest — Put your corn dog eating skills to the test and compete for a first place cash prize of $2,500. To qualify, contestants must compete in preliminary competition on Friday, July 21. The top 10 contestants participate in the final round on Saturday, July 22.

Save Mart Pie Eating Contest — On Tuesday, July 18 see who can finish their Save Mart pie first. There are three divisions: Youth, Teen, and Adult. The deadline to enter is July 11.

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