Local tradition opens Aug. 1

Sonoma County Fair big wheel

The Sonoma County Fair returns on Aug. 1 for the 83rd year, and the theme of Back To Our Roots In Cowboy Boots hearkens to the fair’s agricultural origins. The fair runs Aug. 1 through 11 and will feature Wine Country Horse Racing on Aug. 1 through 4 and 8 through 11.

Gates open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. On opening day the kid’s carnival opens at noon and the main carnival opens at 3 p.m. Otherwise, Monday through Friday the carnival opens at noon and on Saturdays and Sundays it opens at 11 a.m. Exhibit buildings are open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Butler Amusements will again be running the carnival and rides section of the fair, and this year four new rides will be featured, the Giant Wheel, Footloose, Tilt-A-Wheel and the Frog Hopper.

This year’s Hall of Flowers theme is “A Country Garden of Songs." Each garden will highlight a country song featuring a different flower. From “San Antonio Rose” to “The Orange Blossom Special” the gardens will have their own floral and musical identity. Visitors should expect beautiful water features and even a old west saloon where you can “wet your whistle.”

The fair was founded on livestock and farmers and this year is no exception. Throughout the two weeks, exhibitors will be showing off their top quality cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, rabbits and cavies. If you want to get up and close and personal with farm critters, the Great American Petting Zoo is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Farmers’ Day is Aug. 4 and is chock full of livestock and rodeo-centric activities for kids of all ages. The junior livestock auctions, where FFA and 4-H kids sell their animals, take place on Aug. 3 (lambs, rabbits and goats), Aug. 8 (hogs) and Aug. 9 (beef).

Concerts will grace the stage every night of the fair, and this year will feature performances from Yacht Rock Revue (Aug. 1), Techno Bandas (Aug. 2), David Victor formerly of Boston performing the hits of Boston and Styx (Aug. 3), Yonics de Jose Manuel Zamacona (Aug. 4), Lonestar (Aug. 5), The Grass Roots (Aug. 6), Average White Band (Aug. 7), Natural Wonder (Aug. 8), Acoutstic Bandas (Aug. 9), Leonid and Friends (Aug. 10) and Mi Banda Mexicano Los Angelos Negros (Aug. 11).

Some concerts are free with general admission, but others require separate ticket purchases. To see start times and ticket status, go to http://www.sonomacountyfair.com/fair/headlining-concerts.php.

Single admission tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for kids ages 7 to 12 (children under 6 are free), but there are discounts available for pre-purchasing tickets before July 31 ($12 for adults), as well as combos and packages that can offer additional savings. Parking will range from $9 to $15 depending on the lot. Carnival ride tickets or wristbands are sold separately, but are also for pre-purchase discount prices through July 31.

Children 12 and younger receive free general admission to the fair every Thursday, while Seniors 60+ receive free general admission to the fair every Friday. On Wednesday, Aug. 7, bring at least two non-perishable (non-expired) food items to donate to the Redwood Empire Food Bank and receive $4 off general admission.

More information on tickets purchases and schedules can be found at http://www.sonomacountyfair.com/fair/sonoma-county-fair.php.

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