The Arizona State Fair (until Nov. 6)

Unlike art walks, the State Fair is ALL about people watching and circus acts. So grab a camera and a bottle of TUMS -- here's a peek at our Field Guide to the Arizona State Fair: 

click on the image (or right here) for a full-sized version

Check out the full slideshow here and more hints after the jump ... 

 On the Map: 
- Food/Drink:
 Expect the expected. Yes, there will be plenty of turkey legs, whole hams, french fry cubes, and deep-fried burritos. But this year, there's a whole other element of crazy. Grab a margarita (specifically labeled on the map above) and check out the lineup on Chow Bella

- Rides: Are anywhere from two to ten tickets, which you can purchase at the ticket kiosks at either end of the park (though find any carny with a card reader and they can fill up your "fun pass" if you hand over the cash). The zip line is a must, and should be taken first -- you can get a good view of what's around from about two stories up and prioritize. The Ferris Wheel is another classic and takes about 20 minutes. It's best at sunset and at night when the Fair lights are turned on and everything gets that "State Fair" glow ...

- People Watching: Let's be real -- this is at least half of the reason you came to the Fair. Buckle up. 

- Refuge: While the stench of livestock is overwhelming, the petting zoo and cattle barn warehouses are the only air-conditioned joints (other than the concert venue) on the grounds. Make sure to stop by the hand sanitizer. 

Off the Map: 

- Concerts: Coming up: Sublime and the Derby Dames ... keep up with the Fair's music scene on our music blog, Up on the Sun. 

- Cheats: If it's hot, visit one of the balloon-popping tents to get a blast of air from one of the air machines. If you've had too much strawberry lemonade, check out the bathrooms in the Coliseum. If you're looking for the totally bizarre, visit the scarecrow exhibit, just south of the Coliseum (pictured below). 

Other Useful Hints: 

- Hours: 
Until November 6 -- Wednesday through Friday from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (it closes at 10 p.m. on Sundays). Be sure to check out specific opening/closing dates on the official State Fair website. 

- Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors, free for kids under 5 years old, and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., it's buy one admission, get one free. 

- Parking: is $10 in the main lot, but you might be able to find a better deal from one of the nearby independently owned lots or in the surrounding neighborhoods.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton