Eleven days of rides, concerts, livestock competitions and performers kick off Friday as the Oregon State Fair returns to Salem.
Fair organizers are expecting hundreds of thousands of people to visit the state fairgrounds at 2330 17th Ave. N.E. Attendance in 2022 was over 346,000 people, fair spokeswoman Kimberly Jacobsen said — a 10% jump from the pre-Covid 2019 fair.
Organizers sold over 136,000 tickets during a one-day flash sale July 13.
The fair runs daily Friday, Aug. 25, through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, with concerts most nights. Fair gates open at 10 a.m. daily and close at 10 p.m. weeknights, and 11 p.m. on weekends. Carnival rides open at 11 a.m. daily.
This year’s fair comes with a new mascot, Sunny the Sunflower, and new and returning performers. Headlining concerts include the Beach Boys, singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat and a medley of rappers from the 1990s including Vanilla Ice and Young MC. View the full lineup and buy concert tickets here.
Parking is $5 in nearby lots or $20 for closer VIP parking. Neighborhoods surrounding the fairgrounds have no parking signs posted during the fair.
Here are some highlights.
Rodeo and bull riding
Catch an afternoon of Mexican-style rodeo Sunday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. when the Jaripeo Espectacular comes to the pavilion. Described as “bull-riding without rules,” the event brings some of the state’s top riders and bulls from Rancho La Hacienda in the Jefferson, Oregon area.
If you’re looking for a mix of rodeo events, come watch the finale for the summerlong “Hell On Hooves Summer Showdown” on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. Top contenders in saddle bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing will compete for the champion title after touring across Washington and Oregon.
Pavilion events are free with fair admission while seats last. Seating opens a half hour before events. Guaranteed admission and early seating is available with a $10 fast pass that can be purchased online in advance, which allows access to the pavilion an hour before the event.
Monster truck stunts and a demolition derby are on order for Labor Day weekend.
On Saturday, Sept. 2, and Sunday, Sept. 3, trucks including “Enforcer,” “Maniac” and “The Zombie Tracker Monster Ride Truck” will perform stunts for the crowd. Always wanted to compete? Competitors can register for the shows on the Motor Sport Production website.
Monday’s show is a small car demolition derby, with cars and drivers a little on the rough side, according to the fair website.
All shows start at 2 p.m.
It wouldn’t be a fair without rides, and you’ll save money buying tickets or wristbands upfront instead of waiting until you’re at the fair.
New attractions this year include a pirate ship, a mini Ferris wheel for kids, and the Cobra Coaster. A complete ride list is available on the fair website, along with height requirements.
You can buy a weekday unlimited ride wristband in advance online through Thursday, Aug. 24, for $45, or a weekend wristband for $55. Wristbands cost $15 more at the fair.
A 125 ticket pack is $50 in advance; at the fair, you can buy 120 tickets for the same price.
Most rides cost 10-15 tickets.
Racing dogs, and award-winning llamas
The livestock barns at the fairgrounds will be full all weekend for you to meet rabbits, pigs, cattle, guinea pigs, llamas and more. If you’d like to watch a horse show or animal judging, check the event schedule on the fair’s livestock page.
If you love rescue dogs, you can watch a group of dog trainers and rescue canines perform agility stunts and race. A detailed schedule for the Canine Stars will be posted here closer to the fair’s start.
You can also watch performing farm animals daily at Barnyard Races or visit the adjacent petting farm. Shows are at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Family Fun Camp. See more about the show here.
Shows are included in fair admission.
Divers, a hypnotist and a magician
Fans of the mystical and magical will have an array of shows to watch, including illusionists Sean Watson and Chanelle Munroe and master hypnotist Mark Yuzuik. Both will perform at the Family Fun Camp, with a specific scheduled to be posted online.
Those who prefer aerial acrobatics can watch the Flying Fools, new to the fair this year, as they perform synchronized dives from heights of up to 80 feet. Shows are daily at 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. See more here.
Also new is Circus Imagination & Clown College, which takes children from the audience and puts them in the show as stars. Their act will be at the Family Fun Stage daily at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Learn more here.
How to save on tickets
Tickets can be purchased at a discount in advance online through Thursday, Aug. 24.
- $10 for teens and adults 13 to 64
- $1 for seniors 65 and up
- $8 for children age 6-12
- $25 for a family of four
- $25 for an 11-day pass for one person (non-transferable)
- Kids 5 and under are free.
Prices for single tickets rise $2 during the fair, and family packs and passes must be purchased in advance.
A number of other deals and special discounts take place during the fair, including:
- $5 admission on opening day, Friday, Aug. 25
- Buy one, get one free tickets at the gate on Tuesday, Aug. 29
- $2 off gate admission on Wednesday, Aug. 30 with a donation of two non-perishable food items for Marion Polk Food Share
- Free admission for kids 12 and under on Thursday, Aug. 31
- Free admission for military, first responders and teachers on Monday, Sept. 4.
See more on the discounts and deals page.
Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.