Visitors can learn about, feed and pet the goats and other animals in the petting zoo. | Courtesy of LA County Fair/Fairplex

LA County Fair returns to Pomona with music, food, a roller-skating rink

By Bryan Doan, April 30, 2024

As the semester draws to a close, signaling the start of graduation season and the beginning of a much-needed break, anticipation grows for the upcoming Los Angeles County Fair, which starts May 3.

With this year’s theme, Stars, Stripes and Fun, celebrating the diverse communities of Southern California, the LA County Fair is scheduled to run throughout the month of May and operating on Thursdays through Sundays, with the exception of Memorial Day May 27. 

The fair offers a perfect opportunity for everyone to unwind and participate in a variety of attractions, entertainment and culinary delights.

Among the new fair foods is the hot honey funnel cake chicken sandwich offered by one of the food vendors Chicken Charlie. | Courtesy of LA County Fair/Fairplex

Kristy Dahlstrom, the project manager overseeing exhibits, attractions, entertainment and competitions at the LA County Fair, expressed her excitement for this year’s newest feature attraction, the Skate-R-Cade in collaboration with the Grand Park Foundation in LA.

“It’s a 40 by 100 skating rink. Inside the building will have pinball machines, claw machines and custom-made cotton candy,” said Dahlstrom. “Think of it like a retro roller skating rink.”

Many of the usual fair favorites return this year with staples like the carnival rides provided by Ray Cammack Shows. Visitors can also explore the diverse and captivating exhibitions of the Flower & Garden Pavilion. Additionally, attendees can enjoy NextFest LA, which offers four concert stages showcasing local music talents from Southern California. 

Dahlstrom also emphasizes the importance of embracing the musical atmosphere at NextFest LA.  

“Take the time to enjoy the stages, like stop and truly listen to one of the groups as you walk by, even if it wasn’t on your schedule,” said Dahlstorm. “Take a break, rest your feet and enjoy it. Not enough people I think take the time to truly enjoy the experience.” 

Renee Hernandez, the director of communications for the LA County Fair, highlights the popularity of one of the fair’s main attractions, the Big Red Barn, hosted by Cal Poly Pomona’s Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture. 

“It’s always popular, people love the petting zoo, love getting to feed little animals, love getting to know about the different things about the animals and agriculture,” said Hernandez.

Visitors can learn about, feed and pet the goats and other animals in the petting zoo. | Courtesy of LA County Fair/Fairplex

Among the new attractions are innovative fair foods, including the pickle split. Hernandez described it as a twist on the classic banana split, featuring pickles and pineapple Dole Whip served alongside Tajín and Chamoy, an invention by returning food vendor Dominic Palmieri.

While summer doesn’t officially start until June 20, fair attendees planning to go won’t have to worry about scorching hot weather. The month of May typically brings warm afternoons and cool evenings. 

Although visitors can often get away without a jacket during the day, it’s recommended to bring one for the cooler temperatures when the sun goes down.

Edwin Morales, a civil engineering student, shares his insights on the best time of day to visit the LA County Fair.

“You want to get the ambience of the LA County fair, toward the afternoon when the sun starts to set that’s when everything is pretty much TikTok worthy,” said Morales.

To make the most of their time and experience the majority of the LA County Fair, visitors are encouraged to start early. With the exception of opening day, which begins at 5 p.m., the fair opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m.

The ferris wheel is a popular attraction at the LA County Fair, it opens May 3. | Courtesy of LA County Fair/Fairplex

Visitors participating in the fair should expect to spend on average $50 to $100 per person for a day, factoring in expenses such as parking, food purchases, carnival games and souvenirs. These expenses may include carnival wristbands priced at $50 or concert tickets starting as low as the cost of a wristband.

For students and attendees looking to save money, the LA County Fair offers multiple discounted ticket options. One notable deal is available for Pomona residents with a valid zip code May 9.

“May 9 it’s Pomona day at the fair and residents get in for a dollar and then you can buy discount tickets at Superior Markets and the O’Reilly Auto Parts,” Hernandez said. “If you buy online in advance, you save a good chunk of money, if you purchase a ticket here at the gate which I believe it’s $30.”

The fair also offers other deals, such as the value meal for $9.50, available at all food vendors, according to Hernandez. If you’re looking to sample a variety of foods, the value meal is a convenient option, although its offerings may vary among different food vendors.

So, if you’re looking for a reason to attend, it’s an invitation to embrace the celebration of the Los Angeles community and for burnt-out students, the LA County Fair is a great way to start the summer break. 

“Truly a fair is for everyone, like there is no specific type of person that comes to a fair,” said Dahlstrom.

Feature image courtesy of LA County Fair/Fairplex

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