Drone light show is a go: Here are the can’t-miss events for State Fair’s final weekend

The drone light show didn’t make it off the ground for the first two weekends of the California State Fair, but the high-tech aerial show is finally on as the fair wraps up this Friday through Sunday in Sacramento.

The show was canceled opening weekend due to software issues and replaced with the traditional fireworks show. It was canceled again last weekend because the vendor needed more time to install communications components to ensure safety while its drone fleet flies over Cal Expo, the State Fair said.

This weekend, the drone light show will be accompanied by a traditional fireworks show in the evenings at the Miller Lite Racetrack Grandstand from July 26 to 28, according to State Fair officials. The show will begin between 9:30 and 10 p.m., followed immediately by fireworks.

So enjoy the fair while you still can, whether it’s munching on churro funnel cakes or enjoying the exact funhouse seen in “Stranger Things 3.” If you want to take a food tasting class, be sure to sign up online.

Here’s a rundown on the can’t-miss events of the last weekend.

Friday, July 26

Can you tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca? You might want to check out the Llama & Alpaca Showmanship event bright and early Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.

Take a Zumba class at noon with Koyote Baila at the promenade stage, or learn how to make Greek chicken with Melissa Tanner de Oliverira at the Save Mart California’s Kitchen at 12:30 p.m.

You can’t miss Quadrill with Antia Markiewicz at the horse arena at 5:30 p.m. A quadrill is four horses riding side by side performing a routine to music.

Other performances throughout the day include Acrobats of Hebei China, master hypnotist Tina Marie, and Sacred Fire Dance.

R&B artists Tony! Toni! Toné! are back for another year and will perform at the Golden 1 Stage at 8:00 p.m. You can go for free or reserve a seat near the front for $15.

Saturday, July 27

Happy birthday, Smokey Bear! Celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday at Camp Smokey at 12 p.m. with cupcakes and goodie bags.

Enjoy music from the Capitol Chinese Orchestra at the Promenade Stage or dances from the Polynesian islands from Hinalei’s Dance Company at the PG&E Center Stage at 12 p.m.

The Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals Dog Races will be held at 2 p.m. at the Miller Lite Racetrack Grandstand. Entries are taken online only and limited to the first 64 applicants.

If you’ve been dying to pet a llama, now’s your chance — visit the L1 Show Ring at 7 p.m. to touch and walk a llama or alpaca.

Tribute band Journey Revisited will perform at 8 p.m. All seats for the concert are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sunday, July 28

On the final day of the fair, catch the Boots & Bling drill team show off their skills at 10:30 a.m. in the Horse Arena. You’ll see horses of all sizes and breeds decked out in bright colors performing a blend of traditional drill and acrobatics.

Sacramento Taiko Dan will perform traditional and contemporary styles of taiko drumming at the promenade stage at 1:30 p.m.

If you want to experience magic up close and personal, visit the Magician’s Guild from 2 to 5 p.m. at Building A/B.

How good are you at tasting wine? Join a State Fair commercial wine judge at the Taste of California classroom in California Building B at 3 p.m. to try wines that received silver or gold medals in the 2019 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition and learn what judges taste for.

In the last Mane Event show, watch riders dressed up as superheroes and villains perform acrobatics and tricks at the Horse Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Finally, country star Martina McBride will perform at 8 p.m. You can go for free or reserve a seat near the front for $25.

How to save money

The State Fair has several promotions for discounted and free tickets.

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade who read two books can earn two free ride tickets any day of the fair.

And if you buy a $28 food festival pass, you can choose four items worth $40 from over 30 options from bacon cinnamon rolls to pizza funnel cake. Visit the fair website for more details.

If you go

  • Enter from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The carnival stays open until midnight.

  • Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for kids ages 5 to 12. Children and under get in for free.

  • Parking is $15. The main gate is at Exposition Boulevard and Heritage Way, and the Blue Gate and Rodeo Gate are on Exposition Boulevard and Challenge Way. Each gate has nearby parking.

  • If you need to rent a wheelchair or scooter for the event, go to the Vista Mobility Specialists website at

  • You can bring outside food onto the fairgrounds, but no outside alcohol is allowed.

  • If you become separated from your child or family, State Fair officials would like you to contact Cal Expo police at (916) 263-3050.

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Jaimie Ding, from Scripps College, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee with an interest in politics and international relations. She grew up in Vancouver, Washington.