Words & Deeds

Here’s how to avoid long lines, get good seats at Western Idaho Fair concerts

Riders launch on the Slingshot ride at the Western Idaho Fair. (Warning: profanity)

The spendiest carnival ride at the Western Idaho Fair isn't part of the carnival. It's the Slingshot, which costs $30 per person. Tanner Nelson, 28, of Boise, rode with his neighbor. "That was #@$ing badass, dude!" he exclaimed afterward.
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The spendiest carnival ride at the Western Idaho Fair isn't part of the carnival. It's the Slingshot, which costs $30 per person. Tanner Nelson, 28, of Boise, rode with his neighbor. "That was #@$ing badass, dude!" he exclaimed afterward.

If you’re planning to attend one of the grandstand concerts at this week’s Western Idaho Fair, prepare to accept your fate.

You are going to wait in line for a minute or two.

“When everything’s free, there’s going to be a line no matter what,” Fair Director Bob Batista says.

If you’re smart, you can minimize the waiting game. Follow these tips for an efficient, stress-free experience at 3 Doors Down (Tuesday), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Wednesday), Dustin Lynch (Thursday) and REO Speedwagon (Friday).

1. Buy tickets beforehand. Grandstand concerts are free with paid fair admission. Go to idahofair.com. Heck, do it in the parking lot using your mobile phone. Bingo! You just skipped a line. Tickets are $9 adult, $7 senior 62 and older, $6 child 6 to 11. Kids 5 and under get in free.

2. Get in line early. Or don’t. Concerts start at 7:30 p.m. and last about 90 minutes. Gates open between 6 and 6:30 p.m. All seats and standing areas are first-come, first-serve. Lines for popular shows often start forming by early afternoon. So arrive ahead of time — “if you want a good seat,” Batista says. Remember, fans come and go all evening. “Seriously, if you’re just wanting to come in and walk and hear a couple of songs, then you don’t have to be here bright and early,” Batista says. “But if you’re a diehard fan, you gotta be early.”

Insider tip: REO Speedwagon is expected to be the most popular show this year, followed closely by 3 Doors Down and Dustin Lynch.

REO_NEW_1.jpg
Although REO Speedwagon is associated with the 1970s and 1980s, the group formed in 1967.

3. Consider parking and entering on the Glenwood Street side. The parking lot and carnival gate on the north side can be a wise choice for smaller crowds and shorter entry lines. Why? It’s farther from the Dish Grandstand concerts.

4. Don’t leave immediately after the show. Unless, of course, you love fighting crowds and traffic. Zillions of people try to exit the fair when the concerts end. Take your time. Grab another bite or hop a quick carnival ride after the show. Oh, wait, hold on — is that a line at the Pronto Pup stand?

Western Idaho Fair officials and Ada County commissioners officially welcome Sky Ride, a permanent 1,300-foot tram that spans the fairgrounds.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and opinion columnist at the Idaho Statesman. Since starting at the Statesman as a news intern in 1991, he has been a sportswriter and features/entertainment editor. Deeds also has freelanced for The Washington Post, Relix, Country Weekly, Velo News, Beer Advocate and more.
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