15 Ways to Rock the L.A. County Fair

It has 487 acres, 70 rides, and countless deep fryers; you’re going to need a game plan

The L.A. County Fair comes to Pomona from August 29 to September 28. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Take A Ride
Avoid the inevitable queue on the 10 freeway by taking the northern passage. That means driving on 210 to Route 66, turning right on Fruit Street, and following it down to Fairplex Drive. If you want to avoid the crush of vehicles, a 45-minute Metrolink ride from Union Station drops you near Gate 15 near the NHRA dragstrip where it’s a 10-minute tram ride to the entrance. Those who want a respite from the heat and crowds can book a room at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel; guests have in-and-out privileges through the Red Gate, which allows convenient access to the five expo halls, where you can shop for housewares and hot tubs.

Pedal With Care
If you love the Rose Parade floats, get a load of the grand floral displays in the vast Flower & Garden Pavilion. This year’s theme celebrates Chinese culture and extends outside, where more than three acres have been decorated with lanterns for Luminasia. It opens at 6 p.m. and costs $9 on top of the fair’s $8 to $19 admission fee.

Get Creative
The DIY Design Studio is where ambitious cooks show off prize-winning pies, pickles, and extravagantly decorated cakes while wanna-be Martha Stewarts (or ironic artists) lay out decorative tableaus in Tablescaping. Feeling inspired? Learn to sew under the guidance of experienced volunteers or at one of crafting stations.

Step Right Up
Of the 70 carnival rides, 30 of which are just for kids, newbies like Big Top Swinger and Galaxy Coaster (whose turns recall a bobsled track) compete with classics like the 42-foot-high Timber Mountain, which you slide down on a burlap sack.

Place Your Bet
Inside the agricultural area known as The Farm, you’ll find The Big Red Barn, home to all creatures great and small. You might see a calf being born or watch a goat-milking session. The petting zoo, with its ducks, chickens, sheep, and even a wallaby, is a perennial favorite. The pig races, which are held daily from noon until 9:30 p.m., feature oinkers running around a track as if they’re curly-tailed Usain Bolts.

Walk This Way
Along Redwood Street, home to the acrobats and aerialists of Esmeralda’s Traveling Circus, is the alpha and omega of equines: a horse that’s 19½-hands high and another that’s 22 inches tall. The path leads to Court of the Redwoods, where you can eat you can relax at picnic tables. It’s totally kosher to bring your own food as long as you forgo alcohol and glass containers.

Tune In, Turn On
Though the decade changes, it’s always oldies night at The Grandstand. Shows for 23 evenings include ’90s R&B icons Babyface and Boyz II Men and the ’70s rock divas of Heart.

Fill Your Trough
The fare tends to be supersize (turkey legs), deep fried (Oreos), or jammed onto a stick (pork chops). But nothing beats an ear of grilled corn from Juicys or Chicken Charlie’s, a corndog and a lemonade from Hot Dog on a Stick, a bowl of crawfish étouffée from Harold and Belle’s, and a heaping scoop of Scharffen Berger Really Dark Chocolate ice cream (made on-site) from Dr. Bob’s.

Soak Up the Culture
After you’ve perused the Mid-Century Modern: Retro, Classic, Cool exhibition at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts, step outside for free plein air painting and glass-blowing demos. Nearby take a gander at the 17-ton, 24-foot-tall statue of a ranchero carved in 1953 from a giant sequoia.

Rev Your Engine
Packed with 50 years of automotive history the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, which costs $5 to get into (half off the normal admission), showcases vintage hot rods and other race cars year-round. The newly renovated Gallery of Speed features videos and interactive on the cars that go vroom.

See A Creature Feature
Chatty parrots, flamboyant peacocks, wide-eyed lemurs, and carrot-chomping camels are part of the menagerie in Mojo’s Wild & Crazy Lagoon, where a trail leads you through a jungle-like preserve that’s shaded by vines and presided over by a friendly capuchin monkey. The grassy areas around the lagoon are also ideal for relaxing and picnicking.

Go to Infinity and Beyond
Using the Clubhouse entrance head into the Grandstand and take the elevator up to Top of the Park, a restaurant and bar where you can watch televised horse racing or view BMX, motorocross, and monster truck contests. The Observation Deck also offers a superb view of the carnival. Look Below For a bird’s eye view—and to traverse the grounds without walking—hop onto either of the 10-minute Sky Rides. One runs north to south from the Farm to the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts while the other moves east to west from Broadway to the Carnival. At four stories above ground neither is for acrophobics.

Shrink Your Vision
You can’t actually take a ride on the G-scale Fairplex Garden Railroad, which comes complete with a miniatureRandy’s Donuts, but you can watch the tiny train run 10,000 square feet of track.

Lift Your Glass
Want to sip like a pro? Pop into the Wine, Beer, & Spirits Marketplace, where you can sample some of the festival’s prize-winning booze. Register online for themed tasting sessions including one devoted to wine and chocolate.