Whether looking to free-fall 100 feet, listen to local bands, watch a professional kickboxing match or just pet a goat, the public can do it all at the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo.
Beginning today at 4 p.m., the 16th Annual Santa Barbara Fair and Expo will take place through Sunday at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The fair features livestock competitions and over 4,500 exhibits, in addition to hypnotists, jugglers, bands and bingo. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for children 6 to 12 years old. Children under five get in free.
This year’s fair, titled “A Santa Barbara Safari… It’s a Jungle Out There,” is expected to draw roughly 40,000 people over five days, said Scott Grieve, CEO of the Earl Warren Showgrounds.
Grieve said he is preparing himself for the Drop Tower, a new attraction at this year’s fair that carries riders to the tip of a 100-foot tower and drops them back to earth at 29 miles per hour.
“I’m trying to find out if I have the nerve to do that,” Grieve said. “I’m going to see if some one dares me.”
Grieve said along with the new rides, there will be some old favorites like the Century Wheel, the Super Loop and the Gravitron.
In addition to the thrill ride entertainment, 15 local bands will be featured at the fair, playing on the main and Family Fun stages. The bands include rock acts Tight Rope, Chapter Four and Titsofrenix. Country band Schmeck & the Schmeckt take the main stage Saturday and the pop music band Mac 7 plays throughout the week.
Tripdavon, which has previously performed at Storke Plaza, plays on Sunday at 12:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on the Family Fun stage.
Both stages have various other acts scheduled to perform such as Kevin Stone the Hollywood Hypnotist and Jest in Time, a circus of juggling, comedy and stunt tricks. Dancing troops such as the Fuego Gitano Flamenco dancers will be putting shows on throughout the week.
Another fair attraction is the Interactive Gaming Experience, where carnivalgoers can select from a range of video games and challenge their friends to a gaming duel. The featured games are for Nintendo, Xbox and Playstation 2.
“The best can battle it out in the middle in front of everyone,” Grieve said.
For those wanting to watch a real fight, tickets to the International Kickboxing Association Championship light middleweight bout in the Earl Warren Showgrounds Dome Arena are currently on sale. The Saturday night match between local kickboxer Mike Morello and challenger from Bakersfield Raul Rodriguez is a tie-breaker fight, as each has won previous fights against the other. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $20 or ahead of the event for $24 by calling 1-805-661-5449.
Another event at the 2,600 seat Dome Arena is Fiesta Charro, a concert of Latin bands. Tickets to the Latin show can be bought at the door for $40 dollars. Tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $12 and children under 5 attend free of charge.
On the exposition side of the fair there will be several booths where people can view or buy “everything from crafts to beer and wine to arts and photography,” Grieve said.
On-site parking for the fair is $5, and free off-site parking with a shuttle service is available at La Cumbre Junior High, Santa Barbara Medical Foundation and Bishop Diego High School.
The fair opens at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Closing hours for the fair are at 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday.