This Year's Arizona State Fair Won’t Have Big Concerts – Here’s Why

The midway at a previous Arizona State Fair.
The midway at a previous Arizona State Fair. Melissa Fossum
When the Arizona State Fair returns in October after taking last year off, it will have all of the usual highlights: fried food, flashy rides, and farm animals. (It’s also taking place at its original location at the Arizona State Fairgrounds after organizers reversed a decision to move the event to Wild Horse Pass in Chandler.)

One thing that won’t return to this year’s fair, which runs from October 1 to 30, is its high-profile signature concert series featuring big-name bands and musicians.

Jen Yee, a spokesperson for the fair, told Phoenix New Times in an email the concerts won't be happening because of financial reasons related to canceling last year's event because of the pandemic.

“Sadly, since we didn't have a fair in 2020, we have no budget to do concerts this year,” Yee says.

The state fair’s concert series has been a hallmark of the event dating back to the 1960s and has featured a mix of notable rock, pop, country, and hip-hop artists over the past couple of decades. Shows took place inside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the fairgrounds and were free to fair patrons with reserved seating available for an additional price.
click to enlarge The Flaming Lips perform at the Arizona State Fair in 2016. - JIM LOUVAU
The Flaming Lips perform at the Arizona State Fair in 2016.
Jim Louvau
Legendary bands and artists like Green Day, Nirvana, Korn, Morrissey, KISS, Snoop Dog, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, The Flaming Lips, Foo Fighters, and the late Johnny Cash have previously performed at the state fair.

The lineup for 2019, the last time the fair was staged, included The Cult, Trace Adkins, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Lil Pump, Awolnation, and MC Hammer.

In addition to the concerts inside the coliseum, the fair also featured a variety of performances by local bands and musicians each year at stages around the fairgrounds. Yee didn’t say if these shows will be affected by the budget issues.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.