Expect big fun as Big Fresno Fair opens Wednesday

The Fresno BeeSeptember 28, 2013 

There's no doubting the "big" in the Big Fresno Fair.

The fair opens its 130th year on Wednesday and will offer an enormous amount of food and entertainment during its 12-day run, which ends Oct. 14.

In return, it will draw big crowds. Last year, more than 60,000 people came out on the first day alone. It was the highest opening-day attendance in recent history.

Here's a look at what to expect this year.


Carnival enthusiasts will find three new rides this year. There's the Ex-Scream Machine Coaster, "Vertigo" — which swings riders centrifugally 100 feet over the midway and the Big Top — and a circus-themed fun house with a changing LED light show and spinning steps leading to its second floor.


Fans of lizards will enjoy the new Discover the Dinosaurs exhibit. The interactive exhibit, created through a partnership with Brad's World Reptiles, features a dinosaur dig, plus life-size replicas of tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops and stegosaurus, along with some real-life reptiles as well.

Those who think cold-blooded creatures are creepy might be intrigued by Sea Lion Splash, a 30-minute show where sea lions balance balls, shoot hoops, dance and perform handstands. No word on whether they clap or honk horns.

This show takes place daily between the main carnival entrance and the Home Arts Building.

Music and entertainment:

Music is always central to the fair's entertainment options. This year the lineup is a solid mix of stars, such as Boyz II Men (Oct. 2), LL Cool J (Oct. 12) and Darius Rucker (Oct. 14); teen idols such as Austin Mahone (Oct. 5) and Zendaya (Oct. 12); and classic rockers such as Tesla (Oct. 4). There's also Neil Sedaka (Oct. 7).

Comedian Gabriel Iglesias plays the theater Oct. 9. and Antonio Aguilar Jr. will be the special guest for a mariachi festival Oct. 13.

A full list of performers can be found at fresnofair.com.

The fair has also added events at the Brian I. Tatarian Grandstand. That includes the 3rd Annual Big Band Review on opening day and an MMA (mixed martial arts) fight, 8 p.m. Oct. 6. The fight card is free with fair admission and includes local fighters.

Finishing off the fair's run of entertainment is the Extreme Tractor Pull, where modified tractors compete to see who can haul a heavy sledge the farthest along the track. It happens 8 p.m Oct. 14.


For many, the fair means one thing: food, especially of the deep-fried variety.

Jeannie's Artichokes has that covered. There are fried frog legs, the famous banana dog and deep-fried artichoke hearts. It also has more conventional choices (by fair standards), such as the chicken bleu panini.

Also look for: Five Star Enterprises' Lobster Corn Dog and Shark Bites and the seafood gumbo, blackened shrimp, crawfish étouffée, New Orleans red beans and rice with sausage fried gator bites and cajun crab fries from New Orleans Catering.

Planet Popcorn Waffle Stand will sell crepes in both sweet (fried bananas and Nutella) and savory (chicken pesto or a vegetarian option).

If food is your reason for attending, the fair is bringing back its Big Time Savings Coupon Book, which offers 30% savings on concessions throughout the fairgrounds. The books are $7, or $5 prior to opening day.


The Big Fresno Fair runs Wednesday, Oct. 2, through Oct. 14. It is open from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.- midnight Fridays, 10 a.m.-midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 6-12, seniors and military members. Kids who are 5 and younger are admitted free. Parking is $5-$12. Details: (559) 650-FAIR, www.fresnofair.com.


This reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @Joshuatehee on Instagram and Twitter. Read his blog at Fresnobeehive.com

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