One hundred-plus years.
One hundred-plus years of cotton candy smiles and funnel cake-fueled belly laughs. One hundred-plus years of Ferris wheel journeys and children overcoming their fears. That’s over a century of momentous opening days, live performances and togetherness — all thanks to the Arizona State Fair.
The COVID-19 pandemic took away the sacred tradition of the Arizona State Fair in 2020, but it’s returning this year. After a trying time, it is safe to say that patrons deserve a fried Oreo and an adventurous day on rides. Throughout October, that’s just what Arizonans will do.
Although the world around us has changed, the memories that we continue to make at the fair will never change, Arizona State Fair coordinator Briana Martinez says.
“The fair reminds us to slow down and just enjoy the moment,” Martinez says.
This year, the Arizona State Fair is eschewing concerts, but the energy and excitement are the same. Attendees can expect a safe, COVID-19 protocol-enforced environment that will ensure family safety. Hand sanitizer will be available, and masks and social distancing will be recommended. Enhanced safety features include online ticket sales. To encourage it, organizers dropped service fees.
On October 1, when the fair returns, there will be monster trucks, a rodeo, art exhibits, hypnotists, jugglers, fried olives and fried ice cream. Additionally, this year the fair will run 21 days instead of 18. Concerts will take a pause this year in light of COVID-19 issues.
“The Arizona State Fair is the largest event here,” says Martinez, who noted that in 2019, the fair saw 1.4 million attendees.
“We’ve been having it for over a century. It’s older than the state has been a state.”
Started in 1884, the fair has been a roller coaster, with multiple interruptions. However, it has always returned. The long hours and months of planning that go into this event are what truly make it so special.
Arizona State Fair
When: Friday, October 1, to Saturday, October 30; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Hours: 5 p.m. Friday, October 1; noon to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 10 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays
Where: State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix
Cost: $10 for children (5-13) or seniors (ages 55 and older); $12 adults (14 to 54); free for children 5 and younger