Chowing down on a giant cinnamon roll? Betting on the ponies? Watching mama sheep give birth? Been there, done that at The Big Fresno Fair. But a hair-cutting contest? Craft brews? Lumberjacks? Now we’re talking about something completely different.
In fact, many things are being rolled out this year for the first time at the fair, which starts Wednesday. There will be boxing championships at the Paul Paul Theater, a venue best known for concerts.
Chicken Charlie is back, this time to clog your arteries with his new deep-fried Krispy Kreme chicken ice cream sandwich. (Hey, it’s only once a year.)
There’s also the Cantando Por Cantar finale (Hispanic next-big-thing singing and dancing talent show) at 5 p.m. Oct. 15, the Barber Battle at noon Oct. 8 in which barbers compete in men’s hair cutting at the Craft Brew Court next to Home Arts, and something called “Ultimate Pub Trivia” daily from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Craft Brew Court.
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But wait, there’s more. As a public service, The Fresno Bee lists the top five new attractions below. Drum roll, please.
No. 5, Timberworks Lumberjack Show
It’s chainsaw time.
Three times a day, two lumberjacks compete in timber sports such as log rolling, chopping, cross cutting and speed climbing a 45-foot pole.
It’s a combination of logging history, competition and comedy. Lumberjacks use Stihl chainsaws and wear Duluth Trading Co. duds. You can see it on YouTube to get a taste of what it’s like.
It’s just south of the new Bug-Ology exhibit near the Butler Avenue gate.
No. 4, Walk on the Wild Side
We’re talking lions, tigers and cougars. Billed as an educational conservation exhibit, Walk on the Wild Side is on the north side of the fairgrounds next to the Home Arts building.
No. 3, The Water Shed in the Meyers Water & Wildlife Tree
The locally-owned, locally-created Water Shed educational exhibit makes its debut at the fair.
“It perfectly aligns with our mission to celebrate, educate and have fun,” fair CEO John Alkire said.
The Water Shed is a visual aid to help children (and adults) understand how snow in the mountains turns into snowmelt that flows into rivers, lakes and underground aquifers, then gets pumped out for farming, said Jason Dean, water bank manager at Meyers Water Bank and Wildlife Project in Mendota.
He teamed up with James A. Powell at Monster City Studios in Fresno, who built a three-dimensional model of mountains, rivers and a lake, onto which cutting-edge digital projection technology is used to cast images onto the landscape. They show everything from snow falling on the mountaintops to lakes and rivers in drought conditions.
There’s also a screen showing what’s happening underground. There’s even a computer-generated water sprinkler irrigating crops.
“It teaches scientific concepts such as the water cycle, aquifers, groundwater banking and the water table,” Dean said. “For it to be unveiled at the largest event in the Valley is very exciting for us.”
Fairgoers can listen to pre-recorded audio, while school visits will get a live-person tour Oct. 5-6 and 12-13.
No. 2, Bug-Ology Exhibit in Kids’ Town
“Be transported to a land filled with bugs, bugs and more bugs,” said Stacy Rianda, deputy fair manager.
Five giant insect replicas are on display, including a praying mantis, caterpillar, grasshopper and beetles. The insect replicas are called “animatronic” because of their moving wings and bodies.
The fair arranged for the exhibit two years ago and it’s finally here.
Additionally, there will be 20 species of live bugs at the miniature Bug Ranch, where bugs are displayed in glass cases, and a butterfly exhibit. Fairgoers can walk through Spider Forest and take photos with scorpions and tarantulas.
And for those who are bored with typical fair fare, “After experiencing the world of bugs, you have the chance to try bugs at one of the three daily bug tastings,” Rianda said. Edible bug treats are for sale at the Bug Bites Bar.
No. 1, Craft Brew Fest
You must be 21 years or older to enjoy the fair’s first craft beer fest. All proceeds support the Fresno County Historical Museum.
The event will be held 2-5 p.m. Oct. 7 in the infield of the horse racing track, in a grassy area surrounded by a white picket fence.
“It will be the most unique and authentic craft beer fest around,” Rianda said.
The brew fest features beer from a couple dozen breweries, including Tioga-Sequoia, Mad Duck and Lagunitas.
The others are St. Archer, Hop Valley, Sierra Nevada, Drake’s, 21st Amendment, Ballast Point, BarrelHouse, Lost Coast, Alaskan, House of Pendragon, New Belgium, Guinness, Figueroa Mountain, Firestone Walker, Riley’s, Samuel Adams, Modern Times, North Coast, Coronado, Anderson Valley and Full Circle.
There are lawn games, a DJ, food trucks and betting stations so people can wager on horse races.
Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door. The price includes fair admission, parking in the race track’s infield parking lot and a custom craft brewfest tasting cup.
Designated driver tickets are $25.
Tickets: www.FresnoFair.com, 559-650-FAIR or the fair administration ticket box office at 1121 S. Chance Ave., which is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and this Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are limited to 1,000.
If you go
Gates open: Monday-Friday 11 a.m., Sat.-Sunday 10 a.m. Doors open at 9 a.m. Oct. 9 for senior and special interest day.
Gates close: Sunday-Thursday 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday midnight
Tickets: Adults $12, children ages 6-12 $8, children 5 and under free, seniors 62 and over $8 (free on Oct. 9), military with ID $8.
Parking: Chance Avenue parking lot, $15; Butler Ave. and the infield lots, $10; Maple/Butler and Cedar/Kings Canyon, $5.