Brace yourself: For the next three weeks, more than a million people will converge on the Arizona State Fair, lured by the promise of cotton candy, petting zoos, and the timeless ballads of Meat Loaf. For $10, that's a lot of entertainment (and unparalleled people-watching).
At more than 130 years, the fair is so old that the event was originally called the “Arizona Territorial Fair.” That amounts to a lot of pie-eating contests, and they still haven’t gone out of style. This year, the fair takes place October 16 through November 8.
If the 110 food booths and 75 carnival rides and 300 kiosks and non-stop entertainment are a little too much to digest – take a breath, clear your mind, and get ready for these special attractions. Note: Those without specified times are available during regular fair hours.
Welde’s Big Bear Show
Two Floridians, funny costumes, and trained bears – it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but this stage show has been entertaining families and educating people about wildlife since 1926.
7 p.m. October 22 at the Coliseum
Crow might be the only female rocker from the 90s who became even more popular after Y2K – and every day of it has been a winding road.
Caribbean Village Shopping
Close your eyes, and picture yourself surrounded by turquoise water. Palm trees sway in the salty breeze. And… aw, forget it. Just drink the cocktail and buy a nice necklace for yourself.
You know those guys who put you into a trance and make you do humiliating things on stage in front of a live audience? Tyzen is one of those guys. He’s been doing it for 20 years. And he can apparently help you lose weight, quit smoking, and attract women, if you’re interested.
The Thunderbolt Model Railroad Club
Now you will know what a hand-sculpted, 1,200-square-foot of diorama looks like. This spectacular HO-scale scenery has been wowing visitors since the 1970s.
Native Spirit Dancers
The hoop dance is one of the most majestic performance arts in the world, and the Southwest is lucky to have such skilled practitioners close by. Among them: Brian Hammill, six-time world champion.
Always wondered about little green men and their obsession with intimate probing? This exhibit chronicles the history of strange sightings and alleged abductions. It’s as family-friendly as “E.T.,” but it costs an extra $5.
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Figure 8 Racing
When: 7 p.m. October 16 and 6 p.m. October 17
Yes, there is a Demolition Derby (Oct. 18) and Monster Truck rallies (Nov. 6-8), so you can expect a lot of cars to be destroyed onlookers cheer. But the Figure 8 Racing is even crazier: Racers drive as fast as they can, knowing that T-boning another car (or getting T-boned) is basically inevitable. If you’ve ever dreamed of playing “Chicken” several hundred times in a night, this race should scratch that itch.
High School Rodeo
When: October 29
Community. Agriculture. Supra-talented teenagers wrestling steers. It’s what the West was founded on.
The Arizona State Fair returns to the state fairgrounds from October 16 through November 8. Admission is $10 for adults. For all the information you could possibly handle, visit www.azstatefair.com. And FYI: The fair strictly prohibits pets, narcotics, and “any article defined as a weapon.” So if Fido, Molly, and a Glock 43 are necessary ingredients for a fun night, you may have to sit this one out. Oh, and no drones.