PLEASANTON -- Kids bouncing on inflated balls down the front stretch; motocross riders launching themselves 35 feet in the air and doughnut hamburgers will greet fair attendees this year when the Alameda County Fair kicks off its 101st edition Wednesday.
A year after setting record attendance with more than 534,000 visitors helping to celebrate the fair's 100th anniversary in 2012, fair organizers are hoping to surpass that total with a variety of new and returning attractions.
The new attractions will include kids racing on inflatable balls down the front stretch of the country's oldest one-mile horse racing track, a hamburger with a Krispy Kreme Doughnut as a bun, deep-fried Pop Tarts and athletes performing aerial stunts three times a day. The fair's theme, "Summer Fun Starts Here!" kicks off two days before the summer solstice and features a number of summer time treats.
"Last year, we were historical, and it was all about history," said Angel Moore, the fairgrounds interim marketing manager. "And even though we are about history and tradition, this year we are also the place to start summer off."
The fair runs Wednesday through July 7 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton and is closed on Mondays. Horse racing takes places every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the fair. The fair's inaugural Hippity Hop contest featuring kids ages 7 through 10 bouncing down the racetrack on hippity hops (provided by the fair) follows the fourth horse race on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of the fair. There will be 10 entrants per racing day, and kids can sign up online. Daily winners receive a carnival wristband and two admission tickets and will get a chance to race for the grand prize on July 7.
Motocross fans can take in the Diamond Wireless FMX show three times a day in the Verizon Action Zone near the Green gate and carnival. The show features X Games motocross athletes performing 20- to 30-minute shows at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Fair attendees can get an aerial view of the show from the carnival's new ride, Vertigo, a 100-foot-high ride that swings riders around before making its descent.
If thrilling rides are a bit much, fair attendees can sample an extensive food menu that features everything from macaroni and cheese on a stick to deep-fried red velvet cake to a hot dog sundae -- a hot dog on a sweet bun with whip cream and nuts.
"It's crazy," Moore said about the latest hot dog treat. "I have people telling me that they can't wait to taste that."
There are also more health-conscious options with Kaiser Permanente sponsoring a lower-cholesterol menu. Also new is the Sliders Gastro Pub and Sports bar that will feature Sierra Nevada and 17 different brews and a farm-to-fork menu with ingredients grown locally.
For the second straight year, the fair will also offer fireworks shows every Friday during the fair (June 21, June 28 and July 5), starting around 9:30 p.m. In addition, children ages 12 and younger will also receive free admission on Fridays. The fair will also have a Feed the Need Food Drive day on June 26, when fair attendees will receive free admission if they bring four nonperishable food items. All carnival rides on June 26 are a $1.
Admission to the fair is $1 to $10, depending on the day and if tickets are purchased before June 19. For more information on hours, tickets, parking costs and other attractions, go to www.alamedacountyfair.com.
WHEN: Wednesday through July 7. The fair is open Tuesdays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; July 4 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Mondays.
WHERE: Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton, Ave., Pleasanton.
COSTS: Presale tickets end Tuesday, June 18 and are $4, children ages 6 through 12; $6, seniors 62 and older; $8, general admission. After June 19, tickets are $2 more at the gate. Parking is $8 to $20. Carnival rides require 3-5 tickets, which cost $1 each. Unlimited-ride wristbands are $22 online before June 19, $27-30 after. Other ticket packages are available. Carnival hours are noon to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 4.
HORSE RACING: Thursdays through Sundays, post times 1:15 p.m. with racing finishing between 5 and 6 p.m.
CONCERT LINEUP: Hinder, Wednesday; Kix Brooks, June 20; The Marshall Tucker Band, June 21; The Spinners, June 22; Loverboy, June 23; Evolution, June 25; Francesca Battistelli, June 26; Air Supply, June 27; Pablo Cruise, June 28; Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, June 29; Los Caminantes, June 30; Caravansary -- Santana tribute band, July 2; Zepparella -- Led Zeppelin tribute band, July 3; Red, White and Blues Festival, July 4; Weird Al Yankovic, July 5; Zendaya, July 6; Clay Walker, July 7. All shows start at 7 p.m.
THEMED WEEKENDS: June 22-23: Festivale Latino (June 22 Mexican Heritage Festival, Tamale contest; June 23 salsa day); June 29: Spice of India Day; June 30: BBQ & Blues Day; July 6-7: California Love Weekend (July 6: Beaches; July 7: Transportation; fifth annual Gumbo Contest).
For details, go to www.alamedacountyfair.com.