California Mid-State Fair

It’s fair time again! The California Mid-State Fair is a 12-day event held every summer in Paso Robles, 2198 Riverside Ave., that really does have something for everyone from vast offerings of food and drink (including local wine and beer) to carnival rides, farm animals, concerts, exhibits and so much more.

The fair is hands-down my daughter’s favorite summer activity. Every year after our last day at the fair, she asks “when can we go again?” When I tell her “in a year” she’s very sad and counts the days until it comes again. We even plan our vacation around the fair, so she can at least go for one day.

This will be our second year going to the fair on the first day, and the second day since big changes were implemented. Changes we greatly noticed  last year. A couple of big changes we noticed were the carnival (new operator last year) and big fans spraying mist around the fairgrounds. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this year.

Critical information
Dates: Wednesday, July 18 through Sunday, July 29
Times: Noon to Midnight Daily
Prohibited items inside the fairgrounds: 

  • guns, including pellet and BB guns
  • ammunition
  • explosives
  • electric weapons
  • martial arts weapons
  • knives, including pocket knives of any size/length
  • batons
  • brass knuckles
  • mace
  • pepper spray
  • handcuff keys (except for law enforcement/ probation/parole personnel)

Admission cost: Tickets are $8 for children (6-12), $12 for adults (13-61) and $10 for seniors (62 and older). Children 5 and younger are free. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online; however, $1.50 fee is added to each ticket and then a processing fee of $8 is added to each order; making one adult ticket and one child ticket $31. 
Free or discount days: Monday, July 23 is Kids Day, children 12 and younger get in free; Tuesday, July 24 is Senior Day, those 62 and older get in at 10am for $6; Saturday, July 28 is Armed Forces Day, those with a valid military IDs get in free.
Transportation & Parking: Parking is available in the fair parking lot across from the fair’s main entrance on Riverside Avenue for $10/car before 3 p.m. and $20/car after 3 p.m. Do note that the parking spaces and the aisles are VERY narrow and not the best for large vehicles to manuever. Other groups and individuals selling parking around the fairgrounds for various costs and there is free street parking available further away. Another option is to use the Mid-State Fair Shuttle provided by AmericanStar Trailways. Shuttles depart from Nipomo VonsArroyo Grande KmartSLO Buffalo Wild Wings and SLO Vets Hall at varying times for $25 roundtrip and all buses depart the fairgrounds at 11:30 p.m. every evening. For those that live north of the Grade, there are a free shuttles with free parking in Paso Robles. The shuttles run from noon to midnight daily. Parking is only allowed in the designated parking areas.

Public Contests are held daily at 6 p.m. on Rancho Frontier Sate. Each night of the fair, members of the public are invited to enter a number of different contests. To find out more and how to enter, CLICK HERE.

  • Wednesday, July 18: Watermelon Eating Contest
  • Thursday, July 19: Watermelon Eating Contest
  • Friday, July 20: Direct to Draw
  • Saturday, July 21: Cupcake Challenge
  • Sunday, July 22: Locally Grown Salsa
  • Monday, July 23: Pin the Tail on the Donkey
  • Tuesday, July 24: Dog Costume Contest
  • Wednesday, July 25: Junior Fashion Show
  • Thursday, July 26: Apple Pie Contest
  • Friday, July 27:  Macarena Dance Off
  • Saturday, July 28: Vaquero Roping
  • Sunday, July 29: Watermelon Eating Contest

Events you do not want to miss

  • Strongest Man & Woman Competition on Saturday, July 28 at 4 p.m. on the Headliner Stage
  • Miss California Mid State Fair Scholarship Pageant on Tuesday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m on the Frontier Stage 
  • Zoo to You  every day at noon on the Rancho Frontier Stage. Admission is free and you can purchase animal feed for $1.00
  • Hall of Bugs, Slugs & Spiders daily from noon to 10 p.m. in the Ponderosa Pavilion
  • Bikes, Bulls and Pulls Sunday, July 29 in the Grandstand at 7 p.m. This is motocross, tractor and truck pull and much more. Tickets can be purchased online at
  • Two Carnival Areas the traditional one plus a brand new Cub Country carnival for toddlers and young children
  • Wine Industry Awards & Tasting on Friday, July 20 at 5 p.m. in Mission Square. Cost is $40 each (this does not include fair admission)
  • Craft Beer Tasting  Craft Beer Tasting and awards at Mission Square Plaza on Wednesday, July 25
  • Pancake Breakfast at the Downtown Paso Robles City Park from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 26. Tickets are required and can be picked up at downtown merchants
  • Marketplace inEstrella Hall there will be Idlers Demo Kitchen with the Chef of the day and the award winners from the wine/brew/Olive Oil and vinegar competitions. Its open from noon to midnight
  • Something Ridiculous daily at 2 & 7 p.m. on the Rancho Frontier Stage.

Other things to know:

  • Smoking and vaping is not allowed anywhere on the fairgrounds. Though there has been designated smoking areas in the past, there will no longer any because it is “easier and healthier to just ban it outright,” said Chris Darway, president of the fair board.
  • No food or drinks are allowed into the fairgrounds, except for two unopened bottles of water per person. There are food options for all tastes, and fairgoers are allowed to leave and re-enter. Water is available for purchase in the fair, and Hague offers water in their booth at the back of Commercial Building 1.

Find the daily schedule HERE and a PDF of the daily schedule HERE.

 Posts about the 2017 fair:

Have fun, stay cool and Go Go!