Sea lions, science, freak show among this year’s highlights
Crowds make their way through the midway at the Pima County Fair.
The 97th annual Pima County Fair will make a splash in the Old Pueblo with the help of new and returning attractions, including sea lion shows and fishing lessons.
Kicking off April 19 and running until April 29, the fair will feature many cool attractions that can help take your mind off the rising temperatures.
“We have over 45 rides this year, so that there is something for everyone, from the young to the old,” says Tony Fiori, media marketing director for Ray Cammack Shows, which has brought carnival rides to the fair for more than 30 years.
“We’re also going to have 12 food vendors who will sell cotton candy, candy apples, corn dogs and typical fair food.”
New events this year include appearances by the Bengal Tigers of India and performances from an Elvis impersonator.
“This is a growing process and every year we learn more,” says Launa Rabago, the fair’s marketing director. “The Tucson market has changed so much. This year, we are bringing things for our snowbirds, seniors, teens and everyone in between.”
JUST FOR KIDS
The fish school: Learn the techniques of fishing and some new facts about our underwater friends. Fishing lessons and demonstrations run daily from 12:30-2:30 p.m., 3:30-5:30 and 6:30-7:30 in the Pima Hall.
Super Science Company: With mind bogglers and simple machines, kids can have “fun with physics,” and learn a thing or two about Newton’s laws; daily at 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30, 2:30 and 6 in the Old Pueblo Hall.
All Creatures Great and Small Petting Zoo: open during fair hours.
AN ARRAY OF ANIMALS
Sea lion splash: Take a break from the heat and spend some time near sea lions; daily at 2, 5 and 9:30 p.m.; in front of the Livestock Ramada and across from the Michelob Cantina
Marcan white tigers: Who needs the zoo? These friendly tigers show off their prowess and beauty in front of the Administration Building and across from Old Pueblo Hall; daily at 3:30, 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Nancy Kolbert’s Amazing World of Birds: Colorful parrots talk and sing as they fly through the crowd, landing on the shoulders of audience members; daily, 2:30, 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. in Central Park; 8:30 p.m. April 19.
> In Tuesday’s Family Plus
See what families are doing to get their animals ready for the fair.
Hypnotist extraordinare: Tammy Barton works her powers of hypnotism to bring out personality traits you never knew you had; nightly at 5, 7 and 9 at the Coors Central Park Stage.
The Freak Show: Watch as George the Giant, a 7-foot-3-inch man, does everything from swallowing swords to eating light bulbs. Ouch. Coupled with the magic tricks of John Shaw, the freak show is filled with electrifying illusions and slightly spooky stunts; nightly at 6, 8 and 10; Note: The 10 p.m. show is rated PG and parental guidance is recommended.
Elvis impersonator: Although not The King himself, this impersonator shakes his hips and sings like the real thing; daily, 3, 6 and 8:30 p.m.; in the Pima Hall at the Memphis Mobile Museum and Gift Shop.
Free with fair admission
Rockers Tesla, 7 p.m. April 21, Budweiser Main Stage; also appearing, Jackyl.
Super Oldies Weekend with R&B acts Rose Royce, Sly Slick and Wicked, GQ and MC Boulevard, 7:30 p.m. April 22, Budweiser Main Stage
Country star Darryl Worley, 7:30 p.m. April 28, Budweiser Main Stage
Norteño legend Ramón Ayala, 7:30 p.m. April 29, Budweiser Main Stage
Many classic rides will be at the fair in addition to nine new ones.
“Cliffhanger” – Soar through the air with the greatest of ease while lying on your stomach in this contraption.
The “Re-mix” – If you feel like shaking things up a bit, ride the “re-mix,” which is three-dimensional and spins sideways.
“Aladdin” – Kids can take a magic carpet ride on this new offering.
Fried twinkies: Also known as a little piece of heaven.
Cotton candy: What’s a fair without it?
Candy apples: Messy, but part of the fair experience.
Buffalo burgers and brats: We hear they’re pretty tasty.
Prices range from $2-$6.
Contests: Scratch pie baking, home beer, salad making, table setting
> In Wednesday’s Taste Plus
More on fair food
IF YOU GO
What: 97th annual Pima County Fair
When: April 19-29. Gates open at 11 a.m. weekdays, 10 a.m weekends and Tuesday; Carnival: 2 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. weekends. The fair has no set closing time and stays open until at least 11 p.m. weekdays and midnight on a weekends.
Where: Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road
Price: $7 general, $2 kids 2-10, free to kids 5 and younger; $5 for parking
Info: 762-9100, www.pimacountyfair.com
Rides are going ticketless at the fair.
Instead, fairgoers will be able to buy a “FunPass” – a swipe card that works like a debit card – at ticket booths. Card holders will present their cards to ride operators, and scanners will deduct the costs of the rides.
Empty cards can be reloaded at the ticket booths.
Using the passes will allow fair managers to collect minute-by-minute data on the popularity of rides and how and where fairgoers spend their time.