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Western Idaho Fair starts Friday: Market, music and chocolate-covered pickles

Want to get into the Western Idaho Fair for free? This year, that’s simple: Just show up between noon and 2 p.m. Friday.

That’s right, the first two hours on opening day are free to all comers.

Fair managers hope the promotion gets the fair off to a strong start. The first day has traditionally been one of the least busy, said spokeswoman Becki Woodbury, and this year the fair overlaps with the entire first week of school for many Treasure Valley students.

The 10-day fair attracted 256,599 visitors last year, the highest attendance of the past five years.

Another opening-day-only attraction that fair managers hope will draw people: Idaho craft beer and wine sampling (“A Fair Taste of Idaho”) from 6 to 8 p.m. at Western Town stage. Twenty wines and beers will be available.

The fair is raising the price of admission by $1 for visitors 12 and older this year — but fairgoers can avoid that cost increase by buying tickets at any Albertsons or through the fair website today. The cost for advanced tickets for visitors 12 and older is $6 but it will be $9 at the gate.

“We’re fairly underpriced for a fair our size,” Woodbury said. She said the ticket increase will cover rising costs for labor and maintenance. Expo Idaho, which produces the fair, is self-funded.

COST, HOURS

Admission at gate: 12 and older, $9; children 6 to 11, $5; children 5 and younger, free. Seniors (62 and older), $6.

Fair hours: Noon to 11 p.m. every day, except Sunday, Aug. 30, which is noon to 9 p.m.

WHAT’S NEW

•  Farmers Market: The market, sponsored by Albertsons and featuring local farmers/producers, will be near the grandstand entrance. The market will feature produce and products from 20 different vendors throughout the week, including Owyhee Produce, Crawford Farms, Blue Barn Produce, Zacca Hummus, Symms Fruit Farm and Ballard Cheese.



•  Urban Garden: As part of education outreach, the fair worked with

Boise Urban Garden School

to create a garden. It is in large, recycled circular planters next to the farmers market. The exhibit will feature signs and brochures on composting, bees and how to get a garden started. Blue Cross of Idaho Health Foundation’s “High Five” program is providing recipes and seed packets.



•  More food options: The Colossal Onion food booth will offer fried pickle-stuffed corn dogs, fried watermelon and chocolate-dipped pickles.

Bluefeather Bakery

will have a booth at the fair this year, offering 5-inch pies (apple, peach, pecan, lemon, coconut, mixed berry and Rocky Road).



•  BMX Pro Trick Riders: This show features bicycle and skateboard stunt riders. A halfpipe and box jumps will be set up in Western Town parking lot.



EXOTIC ANIMALS

CAMELS: Every day is Hump Day at the fair. Dustin’s Top Notch Camel Rides from Oregon will back. Find them inside the main gate, near the Project Filter stage.

ALLIGATORS: Get an up-close look at man-eating reptiles from Florida with Kachunga and the Alligator Show. Find them near the carnival gate.

SEA LIONS: Can’t get over to the Oregon Coast to see the sea lions? The fair is bringing sea lions to you. The show is billed as “an educational marine conservation outreach program.” The sea lions will do tricks and pose for photos with fairgoers. Find them near the Bronco Motors Pavilion.

GRANDSTAND SHOWS

All of these concerts are free with gate admission.

•  7:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Jerrod Niemann.

The country music singer-songwriter’s 2010 debut album was Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury.



•  7:30 p.m. Wednesday:

Theory of a Deadman

. Hard-rock band from British Columbia.



•  7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27:

Gary Allan

. Country singer-songwriter whose hits include “Man To Man” and “Nothing On But The Radio.”



•  7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28:

Queensryche

. The Grammy-nominated progressive heavy-metal band has sold 30 million albums worldwide since the 1980s. Queensryche was announced as the replacement for Pat Benatar, who had to cancel.



SPECIAL DEALS,

COUPON BOOK

Statesman coupon book: One or two coupons pay for the price of the whole book. Buy online for $3 through Thursday, Aug. 20, then it will be available for $5 at Statesman booths at the fair (Center Expo and near Gate A).

Family Day: Monday. A smoke-free and alcohol-free day at the fair. Get one gate admission and one carnival wristband all for just $25. Admission and wristband are good all day.

Half-Price Sunday: On closing day, Aug. 30. Get half off fair admission with an Idaho Statesman coupon that can be found in the newspaper from Monday through Saturday, Aug. 29, and will also be available at the Statesman booths at the fair.

Armed Forces Day: Also the fair’s closing day, Aug. 30. Servicemen and women who show their military ID card, VA medical card or their DD-214 form get in free.

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