The comfortable spring months are the perfect time to take a break and relax while you enjoy the great outdoors of Tucson and the surrounding Pima County. While there are practically an endless number of recreational activities to take part in and places to visit around Tucson, among the most popular destinations in the city during the month of April is the Pima County Fair, which has delighted residents and visitors alike for over 100 years.
From games and food to live music and NASCAR racing, the Pima County Fair offers a wide range of things to do and attractions to visit during your time there, which ensures that everyone is able to find something they enjoy. This exciting event is just a short drive from practically anywhere in Tucson, which allows you to take a fun vacation without needing to travel a long distance to get there.
With over 60 carnival rides and more than 50 midway games like ring toss and balloon dart throw, you can spend days at the fair and still find something new to enjoy. Situated throughout the fairgrounds are numerous food stalls with such fair favorites as cotton candy, funnel cakes, and corn dogs. Visitors to the fair will also be able to enjoy many new and exciting things to see and do within the four exhibit halls found around the fairgrounds.
Locals and residents love going to the fair because of the fun games, carnival rides, and wide variety of food options available throughout the event. If you’re set to visit the fair for your first time, getting to know more about the event will allow you to enjoy it to its fullest!
Before You Visit: What You Need to Know
The Pima County Fair is an annual event that takes place for 11 days in the month of April. In 2019, the fair ran from April 18-28, during which it was open from 3:00PM-11:00PM on weekdays and from 11:00AM-11:00PM on weekends. You can expect the fair to be open at similar times in years to come.
For 2020, the fair is set to run from April 16-28. The best aspect of visiting the fair is that it’s highly inexpensive to do so. The price of admission is currently $9 for adults and teenagers, $5 for children from the ages of 6-10, and free for children five years old or younger. When tickets become available for the next Pima County Fair, you can purchase them here.
Parking at the Pima County Fair
Once you arrive at the Pima County Fair, you’ll obviously need to find some place to park. The parking lot at the fairgrounds is very spacious, which means that you should always be able to find a spot to park. Because of its vast size, the parking lots have signs within each row to pinpoint where your vehicle is parked, which you should write down to remember once the fair is over. The cost of parking is $5 per vehicle, which can only be paid in cash.
Shuttle transportation is available at the fairgrounds every day from the moment the fair opens until 9:00PM. If you want to avoid crowds when traveling to the fair, the best days to visit would likely be on Friday or Monday, while the most crowded days include weekends, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Getting to the Fairgrounds
When you’re trying to get to the fair, the route that you take to get there depends on where you’re traveling from. When visiting the fair from Tucson, you’ll want to travel on I-10 East before taking the Rita Road exit. From here, follow the signs until you reach the green lot.
From Vail, you’ll likely be taking I-10 West, which means that you should take the Houghton Rd. exit. Once you’ve taken this exit, follow the signs until you reach the blue lot. If you’re traveling to the fair from the Rita Ranch community, take Southbound Houghton Rd. until you reach the blue lot. If you’re visiting from Sahuarita or Corona de Tucson, you’ll want to travel along northbound Houghton Rd. until you reach Dawn Rd., after which you’ll continue driving until you get to the red lot.
The weather during the month of April in Tucson is typically sunny with temperatures in the low 80’s, which is essentially perfect fair weather. If you’re trying to decide what to wear, the warmer temperatures mean that light clothing is ideal. You’ll also be walking a substantial amount throughout the day, which means that you should be wearing some high quality walking shoes.
Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are also good items to take with you to the fair. To fully enjoy your time at the fair, it’s highly recommended that you bring along some water bottles to stay refreshed while you visit all of the attractions. You might also need some extra cash for carnival rides, food, and drinks.
Games, Food, and More!
Likely the main reason to visit the Pima County Fair is because of all of the games and food that are available. The Pima County Fair is easily among the most popular attractions in Arizona. During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to spend time at more than 60 different rides, which include roller coasters, flying swings, Ferris wheels, and giant slides.
These games along with all of the other attractions are divided into two separate sections, which include the Kiddie Land Carnival and The Grand Wheel. If you want to take part in some family fun with your children, the Kiddie Land Carnival is situated just nearby the main entrance to the fair. If you’re searching for more thrilling carnival rides, highly challenging games, and a myriad of food options, you’ll want to spend your time at The Grand Wheel.
Along with the many food vendors that are set up throughout the fairgrounds, you’ll have 60 carnival rides and 50 midway games at your disposal, which practically ensures that you’ll never be bored. Among the most unique aspects of this fair is that different rides and games have different ticket requirements. The more intense and thrilling games have higher ticket requirements. For instance, four tickets will provide you with access to such games and rides as toon town, clown funhouse, Goliath slide, and monster mash. On the other hand, 10 tickets will give you access to rides and games like the flying Dutchman, konga, twister, and freestyle. You can also choose to go on such intense rides as insanity and mach1 for 16 tickets and 20 tickets respectively.
The most expensive ride is Titan, which was new to the fair in 2019. This is a 17-story high ride that travels at a speed of more than 60 miles per hour. While these attractions can have long lines, you can skip most of these lines by purchasing a fast pass, which costs around $25 to purchase.
As for the food, you’ll find all kinds of traditional carnival food at this fair, which include funnel cakes, kettle corn, cotton candy, corn dogs, and candy apples. There are dozens of vendors located all throughout the fairgrounds, which also include pizzerias, vendors that specialize in steak, and coffee carts. This fair is always electrifying with an energetic and lively atmosphere, which you’ll notice immediately upon entering the fairgrounds. The best time to visit would likely be during the evening hours, which is when the lights come on and the music is at its loudest.
Live Music & Concerts
While the games, rides, and food are the main attractions at the Pima County Fair, local residents and visitors alike also love the live music and concerts that are held every day on the fairgrounds. Most of these concerts occur during the evening, which is when you should plan on visiting if you want to listen to some music during your visit.
All of the concerts are held at the Budweiser Main Stage and are included in the main cost of admission to the fair. While some musicians will play live music throughout the day, the concerts offer a more focused music event during the evening. While admission to the daily concert is included in the price of your ticket, you can choose to upgrade your ticket at any time during fair hours for $15.00 if you want to view the concert up close. Keep in mind that your bags will be searched before you’re allowed to enter the venue.
While most attendees will be required to stand throughout the entire concert, there is some bleacher seating available on a first come, first serve basis. Any video or audio taping of the performances is prohibited.
The concerts at the Pima County Fair have always drawn large crowds, which is mainly due to the big names that perform there every year. For instance, Hoobastank and Post Malone performed at the fair in 2016. The top performers in 2018 included Ludacris, Jefferson Starship, and REO Speedwagon. With a wide variety of different music styles to choose from, you can attend the fair on the day your preferred band is set to play.
Drag Car & NASCAR Racing at the Tucson Speedway
While you’re spending time at the fair, you won’t want to miss out on the drag car and NASCAR racing events that are held just nearby at the Tucson Speedway. These events add to the fun of the Pima County Fair by rounding out your trip. Once you’ve spent a few hours or a whole day at the fair, you can walk over to the Tucson Speedway on the Pima County fairgrounds and take in a race. The two tracks at the Tucson Speedway provide you with the ability to watch drag racing or NASCAR racing whenever a race is scheduled to occur.
Most of the races take place on the weekend, which is when you might want to schedule a visit to the fair. The 3/8-mile oval track at the Tucson Speedway is one of just three paved ovals in Arizona, which makes this the perfect opportunity for you to see a race.
Shows & Equestrian Events
Outside of the month of April, the fairgrounds at the Pima County Fair are used primarily for a wide array of fun and exciting horse shows and equestrian events, some of which are also hosted during the Pima County Fair. You can even choose to partake in pony rides if you want to have a more hands-on experience with similar animals.
As for the equestrian events, the main types that are held during the fair include dressage, barrel racing, and rodeo events. These events are in high demand at the fair and are considered to be among the most popular by past attendees. Other events you might want to visit include jumper, 4/H, reigning horse, and other events.
Tucson is filled with exciting things to see and do! If you’re considering a move to this wonderful city or you area looking to sell your Tucson home, feel free to get in touch with our local team of Tucson real estate professionals at Grogan & Grogan Tucson Luxury Real Estate!