Friday 10/11-Sunday 10/20. 11 a.m. daily through Oct. 20. Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $5-$10 admission, $10 parking, $30 ride armband.
The Arkansas State Fair is the gleaming, whirring, dizzying beacon that eases The Natural State into the fall, whether or not temperatures agree. For 10 days, the fairgrounds south of Roosevelt Road are alive with neon lights, livestock, fried food and music. Shrieks of terror and glee — often indistinguishable from one another — weave together with calliope music to form an auditory backdrop that can be heard from the Hall of Industry. Themed fun houses provide opportunities to get lost and find a new version of yourself, interspersed between rides that sound like Star Trek spinoffs: the Orbitor, Star Dancer, Starship and Zero Gravity. The Space Roller, new to the fair this year, will offer attendees the chance to ride a giant claw that swings back and forth and rotates while slowly bringing riders higher into the air. Funnel cakes, fried bacon, fried spaghetti and meatballs on a stick, roasted corn, monstrous turkey legs, roast beef sundaes, fried potatoes of all varieties and the whimsical Koolickle — a Kool-Aid pickle — will all be ready for the glorious, greasy taking. The kids talent show and junior and senior youth talent competition will offer song and dance from the state’s young and ambitious. The Junior Fair Queen and Miss Fair Queen competition will crown its winners on Saturday, Oct. 19. Tickets also include general admission entrance to the fair’s nightly concerts, with the following lineup: Defrance (pictured above), 6:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11; Rick Springfield, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11; Bree Ogden Band, 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12; Craig Morgan, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12; Ralph Tresvant, 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13; Mary Heather and The Sinners, 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15; Oak Ridge Boys, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15; Willowack, 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16; Tragikly White, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16; Zac Dunlap Band, 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17; Just Sayin’, 6:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18; Gin Blossoms, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18; Kasey Earl Band, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; Bailey Hefley, 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; Jason Pritchett and The Steel Horses, 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; Sawyer Brown, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; and Dazz Band, 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20.