10 days, beginning Friday, lovers of dusty revelry, livestock, meats on
sticks and rides that, if not dangerous, are dangerous looking will
gather at the Arkansas State Fair. Organizers expect somewhere around
440,000 souls once it’s all said and done. Which is more than 15
percent of the population of Arkansas. There’s nowhere in the state
where you’ll find such a mass confrontation with humanity. Ain’t it
As expected, there are new wrinkles: Rides inspired by natural disaster
like the Typhoon and Funnel Force. Foods inspired by drunken
experimentation like meatballs on a stick and deep-fried hot dogs.
Shows inspired by God knows what like the Jungle Island High Dive show,
where “high dive specialists” dive off an 80-foot ladder dressed like
giraffes, monkeys and zebras. “Special” shows inspired by like
destruction, like “Night of Destruction” (7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11),
a demolition derby and a monster truck exhibi-tion, where fans will be
able to catch rides in the “Kajun Cadillac” monster truck (only $8 to
Of course, for all of our love of new things on sticks and bizarre
sideshows, the fair is mostly about nostalgia. And thankfully, the
hallmarks remain. The Zipper, that death trap of a Ferris wheel with
free-flipping cars, is still around for us to marvel at. You can still
buy not just a corn dog, but a “super” corn dog. Livestock continue to
represent in a major way. This year, some 10,000 animals will be on
display, including a white Bengal tiger, pigs racing for an Oreo cookie
and, in the exotic petting zoo, a kangaroo and a zebra.
More need-to-knows: Concerts, as always, are free with fair admission.
On Friday, Oct. 11, country singer Rodney Atkins kicks things off at
7:30 p.m. The following night, Saturday, Oct. 12, American Idol
favorite, Bo Bice, offers up his brand of Southern rock at 8 p.m.
There’s more country on Sunday, Oct. 12, with James Otto at 7:30 pm. At
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, rowdy country act LoCash Cowboys
per-forms. For all the boomers, classic rockers Three Dog Night play
hits like “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” and “Joy to the World” at 8 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 17. All take place on the fair’s main stage.
As one of the last stops in the pro-rodeo circuit, the state fair rodeo
should offer an extra bit of grit as riders try to hang on long enough
to qualify for the national finals.
Shows run 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 through Oct. 18, with one matinee performance at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
As always, there are a jillion different ticket promotions running
throughout the fair. Take special note of Fifty-Cent Friday, where
patrons can purchase a 50-cent token for gate admission at Harvest
Foods good for opening day Friday. Also, back again from last year,
fairgoers can purchase, for $17, an advance ride card at any Harvest
Foods, Affiliated Foods or Budget Saver that’s redeemable for a one-day
For those who don’t want to fight the traffic, there will be a
round-trip shuttle bus on Saturdays and Sundays from War Memorial
Stadium. Tickets are $2; children under six ride for free.
For further lowdown on promotions and a schedule of events, visit www.arkansasstatefair.com.