There’s plenty to do at the Maricopa County Fair.
Visitors can see animals on display, watch local and national performers, take pony rides, interact with farm animals at a petting zoo, ride kiddie or thrill rides, play carnival games and see demonstrations of the talents of community members.
Hosted by the Maricopa County Fair Association Inc., the fair returns April 6-10 after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
The event began in the 1950s as a citrus fair and festival. Executive Director Karen Searle has run the fair since 2004. She owned a racing pig business, traveled with her husband as a professional clown, and provided management services for fairs before that.
She says the fair is community driven and offers something for all ages, whether they are participants or spectators.
“I love hosting an event that brings the community together to celebrate not only Maricopa County, but the agriculture, arts and talent we have in our community,” says Searle.
How to Get Free or Discounted Admission to the Maricopa County Fair
There are several ways to gain free entry to the Maricopa County Fair. Check the website for further discounts.
- Admission is free for all from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Friday. Parking is extra.
- Visitors aged 55 and over are free all day on Wednesday.
- Also on Wednesday, anyone who brings five or more cans for the St. Mary’s Food Bank gets in for free.
- Students in kindergarten through grade 6 get free admission and four free rides if they’ve read four age-appropriate books. They must submit a Read to Ride form between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Thursday to participate in this promotion. To see the website for more details.
What to expect at the 2022 Maricopa County Fair
The fair has the largest youth cattle show in Arizona. Around 600 youngsters between the ages of 8 and 19 show pigs, quails, goats, sheep, cattle, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, cavies (a type of rodent) and other animals.
Entrants are judged on their animals’ adherence to market standards as well as their skills in showing, caring for and interacting with their animals.
Searle says young people learn important life skills by raising and showing animals, such as public speaking.
“They can’t wait to show their animals to the general public and talk about them,” says Searle.
Inside the Arizona AG and Ewe exhibit, attendees can learn about Arizona agriculture and interact with baby animals.
The SRP Safety Zone will educate on topics such as water safety and safe street crossings, and a safety magic show will engage children in safety topics in a fun way.
Members of the community participate in the fair in a variety of ways, including performing with school choirs, bands, clogging groups, and dance or theater troupes.
Local residents also showcase their talents in fashion contests, quilting, jewelry making, painting, drawing, printmaking, pottery, sculpture, acting, woodworking, gardening, art student, baking or cookies, photography and jam, salsa or jelly. manufacturing.
What to eat, buy at the Maricopa County Fair
Many visitors come to the fair for the shopping and the varied food concoctions.
There will be old favorites such as fried cookies and coffee, elote, corn dogs, funnel cakes, pizza, cotton candy and flaming hot turkey legs. New this year, vendors will also offer Filipino and Greek cuisine.
Other makers and vendors will sell clothing, lotions and soaps, handmade jewelry, and artwork.
Entertainment, Maricopa County Fairground Concerts
Local and national artists will perform on several stages. Other performers will roam the fairgrounds to entertain the crowds. Here are several to look for:
- The Kent Family Magic Circus, with aerial and fire-breathing acts.
- Skip Banks, who plays from inside a ball.
- Suzy Haner, new this year, will bring an interactive hypnosis show.
Among the biggest draws each year are the Monster Truck Shows and Demo Cross, a combination of demolition derby and figure-8 racing. Both take place throughout the weekend.
The Phoenix BMX team will perform
The Superhero Stunt Team is a Phoenix-based BMX show that’s been doing the county fair for six or seven years.
The company is owned by Eric Horrell, who started it in 1993 in Chicago and brought it to Arizona after moving to the Valley more than 15 years ago. He used to ride in the show and now shares emcee duties.
The riders are between 18 and 30 years old and have ridden BMX bikes between the ages of 3 and 15. Many have day jobs and do stunt work in their spare time. He says they all share a deep passion for the sport.
“If you do, you love her. If you don’t love her, you don’t last in it. I stuck with her for years. I must be guilty of loving her too,” Horrell says.
When Horrell started, backflips were the hardest thing. Now riders take their hands or feet off the bike or spin their handlebars or bike while doing backflips. They also incorporate front or double flips into their performance.
“Over the years, the constituency has evolved. Bikes have evolved, and so have our ramps. When I started, the first ramp I built was only 4 feet tall. The one we have now is almost 7 feet tall,” says Horrell.
Thrilling juggling of Roberto the Magnificent
Roberto the Magnificent will present a circus variety show featuring juggling, unicycling and pogo-stick, magic illusions and vaudeville-style comedy.
The performer, also known as Robert Stuverud, hails from Seattle. He has participated in fairs in Yuma, Casa Grande and Pinal County, as well as the Arizona State Fair. This is his first time performing at the Maricopa County Fair.
He also did NBA halftime shows across the country and opened for “Weird Al” Yankovic, Reba McEntire and the Temptations.
Stuverud began performing at the age of 11 as part of a duo called the Gentlemen Jugglers. His friend started juggling first and taught him after school. Early in their career, the duo won silver medals at the World Juggling Championships.
One of Stuverud’s signature routines involves bouncing on a pogo stick while wearing a spiked helmet and asking the audience to throw fruit at him, which he points to with his helmet.
He also juggles fire on a unicycle and bounces coconuts off his head while juggling them.
Stuverud says his favorite part of being an artist is connecting with others.
“The best thing about performing is when you can make someone laugh who hasn’t laughed in a long time,” Stuverud says. “I got letters from kids saying, ‘Watching your show, I wanted to learn how to juggle. When I learned to juggle, it got me out of trouble and I managed to go to school. And now I graduated from college.
“There are times when you really connect with someone and really inspire them.”
Maricopa County Fair
When: From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays April 6, 7 and 10. From 10 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9.
Or: Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix.
Admission: $9, free for ages 8 and under. Unlimited wristbands are $30 in advance, $35 onsite. Parking is $11. Cash and cards accepted throughout the show.
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