PHOENIX — Can you smell the deep-fried corn dogs and cookie dough already? How about the roasted turkey legs or the sweet smell of spun cotton candy?
That's right, the Arizona State Fair is back in town, Oct. 1 - 30, 2021, at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, and it comes a year after the 2020 fair was canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While much of the fair will look the same this year -- plenty of rides, fried and sweet fair treats, and larger-than-life stuffed animals to win -- there will be one major difference: no headlined evening concerts at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum due to apparent funding shortfalls.
There will still, however, be plenty of entertainment throughout the month, including tribute bands, monster trucks and other races at the dirt track, balloon artists, a hypnotist, acrobats, dancers, and other performances throughout the month.
If you're headed to the fair, here is what you need to know.
When is it? Oct. 1-30, 2021, Wednesday - Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday)
Where is it? Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix AZ 85007, near 19th Avenue and McDowell Road.
What are the hours? Gates open at 5 p.m. on Opening Day, Oct. 1.
Regular hours are Wednesday - Thursday, noon to 9 p.m., Friday, noon to 10 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
How much does it cost? General admission is $10-$12. Kids under five are free. Parking is $8-$25 depending on the lot. Food, rides, and games are additional costs. You can buy tickets and parking, here.
There are fewer discounts and promotions this year compared to the last fair in 2019. However, there are a handful of promotions that will save a few bucks here and there.
$3 Taste of the Fair: Every Friday until 6 p.m., food vendors will have a $3 item for sale. Excludes opening day on Oct. 1.
We Care Wednesdays: Bring 10 cans or non-perishable food items to the fair and receive one free admission. Valid Wednesdays between noon and 5 p.m.
Friends 55+ Day (Oct. 13): On Wednesday, Oct. 13, those 55 and older can get free admission to the Arizona State Fair. Limited to two tickets and there is a specific promo code to use. Details here.
Armed Forces Day (Oct. 15): Military members can get free admission to the fair on Friday, Oct. 15. The tickets are available via www.vettix.org. The promo is not available at the fair's gates.
SRP Read & Ride: Kids can read three books and receive three ride passes. You have to fill out this form, have it signed by an adult or teacher, and turn it in to Guest Services.
NEW FOOD & DRINKS
Turkey legs, corn dogs, fried pickles, ice cream, and cotton candy are all staples of any fair. But, as always, vendors try to come up with some creative options for people to try.
Here are some of the new items this year.
- Watermelon Dole Whip Tajin Taco: Taco-shaped watermelon filled with Pineapple Dole whip and topped with Tajin seasoning. It's served with a Tamarindo candy straw (pictured).
- Cotton Candy Ice Cream Tacos
- Hot Cheeto soda float
- Flamin' Hot Cheeto soda float
- Fried chicken funnel cake
- Banana Cream funnel cake
- Chocolate tamale
- Fried olives
- Mermaid candy apple, Llama candy apple, and shark bite candy apple
For more information, visit https://azstatefair.com.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE FAIR?
Will the fair remain at the Arizona State Fairgrounds or will it move south to the Gila River Indian Community's Wild Horse Pass development?
Earlier this year, the Arizona State Fair Board voted to move the 2021 fair -- called a "temporary" move at the time" -- to Wild Horse Pass, near Interstate 10 and Wild Horse Pass Blvd. However, months later, citing infrastructure issues, officials reversed course and said the fair would be held at the fairgrounds.
Now, it appears there are ongoing discussions about potentially relocating next year's fair.
In a previous statement, Board Chairman Jonathan Lines said: "We are committed to working with the Gila River Indian Community to see if we can move the Fair to the Gila River Indian Reservation in 2022 in a manner that is mutually beneficial to both sides."