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Lights, Camera, Fair Summer Fun at the Sonoma County Fair


Lights, Camera, Fair
Summer Fun at the Sonoma County Fair

Funnel cakes, rousing music, farm animals, and carnival rides – you’ll find plenty of this, and more as the 2016 Sonoma County Fair opens for 15 days of fun, July 22-August 7 (closed on Mondays). This year’s theme, “Lights, Camera, Fair,” promises to provide tons of family fun. 

“The 2016 Sonoma County Fair is going to have something for everyone: Great concerts, terrific motorsports, horse racing, thrilling carnival rides, food and the best community exhibits,” said Becky Bartling, the Fair’s CEO. “Don’t miss the celebration of movies filmed in Sonoma County in the Hall of Flowers, Agricultural exhibits, art and more.”

Meandering through the Hall of Flowers is a long-time time favorite of fair-goers that shouldn’t be missed due to this year’s theme, “Sonoma Cinema”. One garden transports you back to Santa Rosa in the 1940s to reminisce about Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt,” while another takes you back to 1950s Petaluma to see “American Graffiti” and “Peggy Sue Got Married” – with so much more to explore. This year, a cinematic wine and beer bar in the Hall of Flowers will allow Fair guests to relax with premium wines from Kendall-Jackson and local brews from Morris Distributing

There is more music than ever, and all of it is free with Fair admission. Around the Fair, there is nearly nonstop music and performances – so you kick up your heels and dance, or just sit back and listen. This year’s headlining musical guests include ARRIVAL from Sweden’s Music of ABBA on July 22, Los Rieleros del Norte on July 24, Ozomatli on July 26, Los Canarios de Michoacan on July 31, Cassadee Pope on August 2, and Aaron Tippin on August 4, all performing in the Community Theater. Some of these can’t-miss shows have reserved seating and dinner packages available for purchase. Details are online at

Sunday, July 24 is Farmer’s Day at the Fair, which offers a chance for country folk and urbanites of all ages to experience life on the farm. Contests include Wild Cow Milking, Hide Race, Mutton Bustin’, and Pig Scramble, which are complemented by demonstrations from the Drill Team and sheep dogs and their handlers. 

The glamor of “Lights, Camera, Fair” isn’t complete without a little action. The PRCA Rodeo kicks it up a notch on Saturday, July 23. Then, the Destruction Derby doesn’t need any special effects to stun you on Saturday, July 30. This year, there are three nights of Monster Truck action on August 5, 6, and 7. These events require an event ticket and Fair admission.

Wine Country Racing returns to the Fair July 28 – July 31 and August 4 – August 7. You can also catch a bonus week of racing after the Fair, Friday, August 12 through Sunday, August 14. On those Sundays, the popular Derby Dog Dash returns between races for all dogs under 25 pounds. Entry information is available online. Wine Country Hat Day at the Races is July 30, offering a chance to show off your biggest, boldest hat – for a good cause. Proceeds go to the Sonoma County Fair Foundation.

In the Kids Area this year, kids get to be the star of the show. Three times a day, little ones (10 and under) can transform into pirates, dinosaurs, clowns, or more. There is also the opportunity to the board the ship of the Pirates of the Russian River, or participate in craft activities. Free contests offer entertainment for even the littlest ones with the Diaper Derby, to the older family members with Oldest, Longest, Most.

The whole family can get together and complete the Movie Treasure Hunt, while learning some interesting movie trivia. More free family fun features Squirm Burpee, a Vaudevillian melodrama filled with a combination of circus and dance, and topped off with hilarious comedy routines and antics. Families can also join in the daily parade for the opportunity to dress up like a grape, carry a flag, or march to the tune of someone else’s drum. On July 30 and August 6, Elvis fans can delight in the music and contests with “Elvis Days at the Fair.”

No fair is complete without some animals, though. The barns at the Fair will be filled with calves, lambs, chickens and rabbits, from the local 4-H and FFA chapters, and independent exhibitors. The annual Junior Livestock Auction is one of the biggest in the state is the conclusion of a year of hard work for local kids – and an excellent way to stock your freezer with quality meat. But for those who want more an educational experience with the animals, head over to the new Saralee & Richard’s Barn to explore Sweet Lil’s Farm, which offers the opportunity to watch baby chicks hatch, drive a tractor, and much more.

Of course, there is the Helm and Sons Carnival to look forward to, with attractions ranging from the thrilling, flipping Zipper, to the children’s Dizzy Dragons. After the carnival, swing by the true Fair attraction: Fair food. Expect all your favorites like corn dogs, funnel cakes, pasta, ice cream, and barbeque. 

Gates open daily from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Buildings close at 10:00 pm, and the Carnival closes at 11:00 pm. Tickets are available at the Fair box office and online. Admission is $12 for ages 13 and up and $6 for kids 7 to 12. Kids 6 and under always get into the Fair free. Plus, the Fair offers special discount days, with FREE admission for kids 12 and under on Fridays and FREE admission for seniors 60 and up on Thursdays. Don’t miss Too Good to be True Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, where $23 gets you gate admission and unlimited carnival rides, all day. Discounted general admission and carnival coupons are available for purchase until July 21 and offer significant savings. 

For more information, go to or call (707) 545-4200. Check out the page on Facebook at “Sonoma County Event Center at the Fairgrounds”.