The Arizona State Fair, held at 1826 West McDowell Road in Phoenix, is one of the largest state fairs in the country. It is officially titled “Arizona State Exposition and Fair” and it plays host to a variety of fun events, farm competitions, rides, food and camaraderie.
The Arizona State Fair began as the Arizona Territory Fair” because Arizona did not become a state until 1912.
The first Arizona Territory Fair was held in 1884 and had a few interruptions because of drought, the Great Depression and World War II. Since 1946, however, the fair has been held every year.
Prior to 1892, the Fair was held near the Salt River by Central Avenue. Back then, the main entertainment attractions were races: horse races, pony races, mule races and people races. In addition, there were a variety of agricultural events. Domestics (cooking, sewing, quilting, etc.) were the most common exhibits in the early days.
The fair moved to its permanent home at Encanto Village in Phoenix in 1892 when the Salt River flooded and the buildings, arenas and race tracks were destroyed.
There are generally around 80 carnival rides, 200 food booths, 50 shows and competitions and 300 or more commercial sales booths. The fair draws well over 1,000,000 visitors each year.
The Arizona State Exposition and Fair is open Wednesday – Sunday from October 10th through November 2nd. It opens at Noon during the week and at 10:00 am on Saturday and Sunday. It closes at 9:00 pm on weekdays and Sunday and at 10:00 pm on Saturday.
Entertainment and entertainers have changed over the years. This year the likes of Darius Rucker (aka Hootie and the Blowfish), John Fogerty, Weezer, Barenaked Ladies and many, many other entertainers are scheduled for concerts.
You can still see the traditional livestock and related competitions. Check out the Racing Lemurs, duck races and the Reptile Adventure.
Other entertainment includes Slack Wire Sam, Hall of Heroes (superheroes that is), Native Spirit Dancers, Tyzen Hypnotist, the Thunderbird Model Railroad Club and much, much more.
The kids can learn about baby chickens, cattle, goats, rabbits, sheep, zebu, llamas, alpacas, dinosaurs and how milk is made. There is also a circus and idea museum for the little ones.
To get to the Fairgrounds:
From I-10 Westbound, exit 19th Ave., turn right.
From I-10 Eastbound, exit 27th Ave. left, turn right on Thomas, turn right on 19th Ave.
From I-17 Southbound, exit Thomas left, turn right on 19th Ave.
From I-17 Northbound, exit Thomas right, turn right on 19th Ave.
From Grand Ave., turn east on Encanto.
Parking and shuttle bus are free.
There are parking lots near the fairgrounds:
- North Lot: Enter at 19th Ave. and Monte Vista or 19th Ave. and Enchant
- 20th Ave. & DPS Lots: Enter at Encanto just West of 19th Ave.