It’s All Fun and Games Until – No, It Really Is All Fun and Games!
You tend to forget the outside world when you step inside the Arizona State Fair. Funny thing is, the laughter doesn’t drown out actual learning here. Rock U, a hands-on adventure into one of North America's greatest institutions, ROCK AND ROLL! Rock U includes five focus areas:
- Founders - dating back to 1950, displays focused on the lives/careers of Rock & Roll's forefathers
- Concert Experience - interactive multimedia display celebrating live performance aspects, listening stations, extensive collection of vintage posters/albums/wardrobe
- How We Listen - tells the story of how we've listened to music throughout the decades
- Playing Experience - allows visitors to play and explore basic instruments found in rock bands
The younger set find plenty of other entertainments designed directly with them in mind, from mellow roller coaster rides to food for the picky eater, a great guarantee for family fun without a squeal to be heard, except from the livestock pen.
Let’s be real: one of the best things about the fair is the indulgent treats that you can devour with abandon. From sweet, powdery funnel cakes to medieval-level turkey legs, savory and sweet treats don’t get more over-the-top delicious than they do at the fair. We’re talking peanut butter pops, chocolate covered bacon, and cotton candy—along with deep fried anything. No, really, the Arizona State Fair’s food slogan is “anything deep fried and on a stick.” This means deep fried candy bars, caramel apples, cheesecake, brownies, cookie dough, beer and….yeah, anything and everything. Wear your stretchy pants.
Magic, hypnosis, and acrobatics: the fair triple threat of entertainment, and of course the Arizona State Fair has it all—and then some. Juggling, unicycles, and hoop dancers are all known to make appearances atop the stages of the fair or at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
It Takes a Barnyard
Compared to other fairs, the event is particularly well-known—and set apart from the rest—because of its barn animals attractions, where you even milk a cow! Ranging far beyond the petting zoo, these programs include different displays, of cattle, sheep, goats, and rabbits, held weekly, as well as special events, like the Swifty Swine, Racing and Swimming Pigs Show. Additionally, the annual Sale of Champions features an auction of prize-winning animals raised by Arizona’s youth, many in 4-H and FFA programs statewide. If channeling our inner Old MacDonald looks this cute, then you should definitely count us in.
The Grandstand Events
Though already packed, the regular calendar doesn’t even begin to cover the Grandstand Arena, which holds an entirely additional series of events. Get your thrills at the Figure 8 Racing and Monster Truck Shows feature Bigfoot, where spectators can see incredible feats performed by top athletes. For those with a true country side, channel your inner cowgirl or cowboy at the High School Rodeo and All-Indian Rodeo.
The very first Arizona Territorial Fair was held in 1884, and the fair has been located on the current site since 1905—that’s over 130 years of fun, without showing any signs of slowing down. Over those years, the fairgrounds’ Coliseum has hosted performers including Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana, and speakers including Barack Obama and Pope John Paul II—and treated millions of families to good old fashioned summer entertainment. But a visit to the fair doesn’t only mean participating in the historical significance of this local installation, but it also means participating in the current Arizona culture—20% of the entire state population attends the fair, which means it draws people from every geographic, ethnic, and age demographic. It’s a rite of passage—and statewide tradition — in Arizona, and one you won’t want to miss out on.
The Arizona State Fair isn’t just fun and games—it’s also an opportunity to give back to the local community and show off some Arizona pride. The fair has contributed over $13 million to the general fund, and is the largest presenter of the arts, music, painting, photography, and dance in the state. Additionally, the fairgrounds host hundreds of non-profit and charitable fundraisers every year, offering local organizations an opportunity to promote their cause. The state fair is also the single largest source for first-time jobs for young people in the area, giving local teens a chance to get involved in the community—and have a brag-worthy job that supplies equal parts fun and life experience.
There is something so indelible about the Arizona State Fair, especially if you visited as a teenager. Often this is the first time you ventured with friends on your own for the day, a safe environment to make your own entertainment choices before hooking up with your parents for an all ages show in the grandstand. Watching a teen or tween outgrow a ride only to be entranced with the newest and scariest age-appropriate thrill is a rite of passage here. Just ask the parents who can still vividly recall when they graduated from the Ferris wheel to their version of Freestyle or OMG. It isn’t just about the midway however, teens love magic and anything circus, so cool acrobats and jugglers, plus some solid sleight of hand expands their minds to what’s possible out there.