Boise & Garden City

The Western Idaho Fair starts Friday. Here’s what’s new this year.

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.

Few things affect turnout at the Western Idaho Fair as much as weather, so fair staff are feeling great about the Friday kickoff to the 10-day event.

The forecast through the end of next week shows no hint of sweltering, triple-digit heat or thunderstorms, and the skies over the Treasure Valley have been remarkably smoke-free this summer.

“We like it right around 85 to 90 degrees,” said interim fair director Bob Batista, who was fair director for 19 years and is filling in until a new one is named. “It’s the perfect weather.”

And it’s what is on tap. Temperatures will be in the high 80s to low 90s through next week, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast is for blue skies.

Gates open at noon Friday, and entry is free for the first two hours. But you have to stay until 3 p.m. to get a hand stamp that gets you back in free.

Fair admission prices are the same as last year: $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for youths. Carnival wristbands are $30. You can get discounts on tickets through midnight Thursday online or at any Albertsons location (customer service desk).

The fair, at 5610 N. Glenwood St. each year, drew about 250,000 people last year.

About 15,000 people tried the brand-new, permanent Skyride, which gives riders a view of the fair from above as it transports them across the fairgrounds. The cost is $6 for unlimited rides for one day.

The Sky Ride, which looks like a two- or three-person ski lift, is the biggest new attraction at the fair. The ride offers an eight- to 10 minute ride, with a view of the festivities from four stories off the ground.

Featured entertainment this year includes hypnotists Tyzen and Kellie Karl, magician Adam the Great, and comedy shows by Alfred & Seymour and Roberto the Magnificent.

Here are some of the new attractions:

  • Rides: The Himalaya, described as an up-down-around toboggan ride; and the Wacky Worm Coaster, a family-friendly roller coaster.
  • Exotic animals: Camel rides offered by Eli’s Camel Rides, and alligator shows by Kachunga & The Alligator.
  • Bug Ology: Interactive exhibits of bugs — including a station where you can taste-test crickets.
  • Eating contests: Watermelon-eating contest, 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17; corn-on-the-cob eating competition, 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18; and cherry pie-eating contest, 4 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19; hot dog-eating contest, 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24; mint lemonade-chugging contest, 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25. Contest space is limited; first 25 people who come can participate. All held at the Albertsons Farmers Market, next to the small animal building.
  • Food/drinks: Love coffee? New concessionaire Eve’s Espresso has joined the mix.

There will be four grandstand concerts.

All concerts start at 7:30 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m. (get there early if you want a seat). Entrance to the concerts is free with fair admission.

Shutter Sky Films shared this video of the view over the Western Idaho Fair on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. "The place was packed! The food was amazing and the people watching was even more excellent," the company said.

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