State Fair proud

Illustration by Margaret Larkin

On the brink of this city becoming a metropolis in possession of a bazillion-dollar arena and its very own mass-produced Jeff Koons sculpture, I ask its fair citizens to remember one thing: Don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget that before we started making other cities jealous with our celebrity-studded Walk of Stars, we were (and still are) the lucky hosts of the California State Fair every year. Because aren’t we all, deep down, just a human person who is stoked to guzzle wine slushies and bet our paychecks on a racehorse whose name is a funny sexual innuendo?

All I ask is that we stay humble, friends, and keep in mind that you’re never too good to swap out your green juice for a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped Reese’s, because state-fair season is upon us from Friday, July 8, through Sunday, July 24, and as always, it is bringing the heat—literally, it is going to be hot AF—but also, fun, kitchsy-to-the-max delights abound:

The big concerts this year include the Loverboy, Styx, Dwight Yoakam and Creedence Clearwater Clearwater Revisted (which boasts the original rhythm section of CCR), but the lineup really shines when it comes to old-school R&B: Tony! Toni! Toné!, Chaka Kahn, Tower of Power and the Pointer Sisters will all be playing. Visit for dates and times and to purchase tickets, which range from $15-$20.

Foodwise, expect to be impressed as ever by innovations in the deep-fried culinary landscape; on Wednesdays and Thursdays, all food vendors are participating in $2 Taste of the Fair, where smaller portions of everything are offered for $2, which means you can try more things and also reduce your risk of gout. If you’re really serious about fair food, there’s a pie-eating contest, the registration for which gets you two free tickets to the fair; and a corn dog eating contest, which awards $2,500 to the first-place winner (that’s not a typo; you could win $2,500.) Find out more at

General admission to the fair ranges from $6-$12; children 4 and under are free. Family bundles, season passes and special discounts are available; check out to find out more. Hours on Mondays through Thursdays are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Fridays through Sundays are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.