The Utah State Fair is poised to open Thursday, encouraging Utahns to have fun with their food.
With more open-air food concessions and efforts to bring the fair back home to what it once was, executive director Rick Frenette looks forward to the fair he knew as a child.
"We've got to get that sense of community back," he said.
Carnival rides are being put together and tents are being assembled. The hustle of people at the 60-acre Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, hints at the short time left before doors open and thousands of people descend upon the fair.
On opening day, visitors will be able to walk through exhibits and, most important, have food on a stick. Frenette hopes fairgoers will be able to get grab-and-go food so they can go out and enjoy the fair while eating.
One thing that will be featured this year is a childhood favorite of Frenette's the powder pop. He explains it as a kind of corn dog that has a special kind of batter.
Among the educational opportunities this year at the fair are exhibits like Little Hands on the Farm, returning for its third year. It gives children the opportunity to see how food goes from a seed to their table.
A new addition this year with be an opportunity for children to milk a "cow." The mechanical cow is a replica of a life-size cow, and children will be able to see how the milk comes out, Frenette said.
"Be Ready Utah" will educate people one how to plan and prepare for emergencies, whether small or catastrophic. There will be daily demonstrations, teaching materials and training.
"That's the kind of stuff we want to offer at the State Fair," Frenette said. "The kind of stuff you can't get anywhere else."
The Utah Department of Agriculture is working with the fair to present "Utah's Own." A food court presenting Utah growers, commodity groups and businesses will be set up at the north end of the fair park.
"It's our job to promote state products," Frenette said. "When we talked to the Department of Agriculture, the response was great" with 11 businesses immediately wanting to take part.
Classic traditions will also be returning this year like Utah's Own PRCA Rodeo. It runs Thursday-Saturday and starts at 7 p.m. Admission is included with fair entrance.
The Miss Utah State Fair Scholarship Program will also begin 7 p.m. Thursday at the Grandstand.
Free grandstand entertainment included with fair admission include Raven Symone and Lil J, Kansas and Josh Gracin. Seating tickets must be obtained from the Grandstand Ticket Office each day, beginning at noon. Limit is six per person.
Paid-ticket entertainment includes Kenny Rogers and the Oakridge Boys ($28 advance purchase) and Smashmouth ($24 advance) and Miranda Lambert with special guest Jason Aldean ($19 advance). Go to www.smithstix.com.
The fair opens at 3 p.m. Thursday, and everyone over the age of 5 can get into the fair for only $2. After opening day, admission will be $8 for adults; $6 for seniors 62 and over and youths ages 6-12. Children 5 and under enter free.For a complete calendar of Utah State Fair activities and events, go to www.utahstatefair.com.
2006 Utah State Fair runs Sept. 7-17
Opening day special: Everyone over the age of 5 can attend the Utah State Fair's opening day Thursday for $2. The fair opens at 3 p.m.
Thursday events include: The Maxinettes; juggler Sean Emery; Wild World of Animals Show; master of escape Michael Griffin; scrapbook demonstration; Reptiles of the World; the Spoonman; Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship cook-off; master chainsaw carver Mark Colp; Miss Utah State Fair Scholarship Program; Utah's Own PRCA Rodeo.
Fair hours: 3-10 p.m. opening day Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Information: For a full schedule of events, visit www.utahstatefair.com.