California State Fair & Food Festival 2023: What to know before you go

Come one, come all

Fried food, farm animals + a Ferris wheel, it doesn't get much better than this. | Photo by @castatefair

Fried food, farm animals + a Ferris wheel, it doesn’t get much better than this. | Photo by @castatefair

Table of Contents

The Ferris wheel. The wild, fried foods. The summer concerts on the Golden 1 Stage. All this could only mean one thing: The California State Fair & Food Festival will return to Cal Expo — this time from Friday, July 14-Sunday, July 30.

The event began as an agricultural fair in 1854, when it was first located in San Francisco. After traveling to a different city each year, Sacramento became its permanent home in 1861, and — roughly a hundred years later — Cal Expo became its annual landing pad when it was opened in 1968 by Gov. Ronald Reagan.

We’re here to prep you with everything you need to know before you go. Come on, ride with us.

The important deets

  • During its 17-day run, the fair is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. However, no admission is permitted after 8 p.m.
  • Tickets and parking passes are available for purchase online and on-site. Admission costs $10-16; kids age 4 and under always get in free, and unlimited ride wristbands are $37-42.
  • Parking is available on-site for $15.
  • Pro tip: Thanks to the Read to Ride Program, K-8 students can get two free rides + a monorail pass by reading two books, writing a summary, and dropping it off at Guest Services.

I love rock ’n’ roll

Big names are headlining the Toyota Summer Concert Series. Admission to each performance is included with a ticket to the fair, and all concert starts at 8:00 p.m. Every show (with the exception of SantanaWays) offers the opportunity to buy reserved and/or ADA seating for an additional $25 as well.

The lineup:

Are you eating, though?

This is what I (hey hey, City Editor Jordan here 👋) am really excited for — it is the State Fair & Food Festival after all. This year, guests have a smorgasbord of ways to fill their plates until those belts get one notch looser. A Food Festival Pass can be picked up for $34, allowing foodies to try four $10 items from any participating vendor. There is also the Best of California Brewfest on Saturday, July 22, to help quench your thirst for delicious craft beers.

The competition is heating up

A big part of the state fair is showcasing the best of everything California has to offer — and we mean everything. From cannabis to livestock to baking, there are 15+ exhibits of award-winning California-made products to check out.

Final game plan

Of course, no fair is complete without rides and games, and the State Fair will have plenty of those, too. This daily calendar of events will also help you map out your visit. Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time to explore it all — and stay hydrated.

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