Local residents can ride a million-dollar roller coaster and fly 100 feet into the sky this week, as the 17th annual Santa Barbara Fair and Expo comes to the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara.
The fair, themed “The Sky’s The Limit,” opens at 4 p.m. today and features 30 new rides. Admission to the fair is $6, although reduced prices are available for children under 12 and seniors. Wristbands for unlimited rides cost between $20 and $25 depending on the day and time. According to the fair’s website, the event is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday. and Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. There will also be a Happy Hour with a $1 entry fee from 4 to 6 Friday evening.
On-site parking at the fair costs $5 and free off-site parking with shuttle service runs from La Cumbre Middle School, Sansum-Santa Barbara Medical Foundation and Bishop Diego High School. Local hypnotists, magicians and fire dancers will perform on the Launch Pad and Runway stages at the fair. Tickets to the fair’s headline entertainment, which includes Dilated Peoples, cost between $20 and $35 and are available at the showgrounds’ box office.
Earl Warren Showgrounds CEO Scott Grieve said he thinks the fair will be more fun than it was in years past, especially with the addition of the Giant Pole Postion Spinning Coaster – a $1 million ride that is a combination of a roller coaster and a tilt-a-whirl.
“This year’s fair will be much bigger, much better and with a wider selection of rides,” Grieve said. “The Ferris wheel is 15 to 20 feet higher than last year’s.”
Grieve said he expects approximately 40,000 visitors to attend the fair over the next five days and said he would like to see more students in attendance.
“Maybe they’re tied up with studying, but it’s definitely something we’d like to see more of,” Grieve said.
There is no student discount for fair tickets, but the fair offers free admission, courtesy of ING Direct, to the first 100 people to arrive Saturday
In keeping with the fair’s theme, different sections of the event will be named after various aeronautical terms. Madelyn Palley, who is in charge of the cooking contests taking place in “The Hanger” section of the fair, said the event features more than just rides. She said the exposition offers locals a chance to exhibit their talents through a variety of arts, ranging from handmade jewelry to photography.
“Obviously there are the rides, but so much work and passion goes into the creative things people make,” Palley said.
Palley said the fair will also feature a livestock competition and a petting zoo, which she said she expects to be a popular element of the week’s festivities.
“Kids love the chance to get up close in the petting zoo,” Palley said.
The fair will also host the interactive Space Exhibit put on by the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. Palley said the exhibit gives attendees a chance to learn about astronomy and features a hands-on flight simulation. She said Art From Scrap, a local art and recycling program, will be onsite to help kids create their own miniature, space-themed masterpieces.
“We try to make it both fun and educational,” Palley said.