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Arizona State Fair now open in central Phoenix

The Arizona State Fair opened Friday in central Phoenix, running through Oct. 29.

Before the gates officially opened at 4 p.m., workers were putting the final touches across the fairgrounds.

Activities at the fair run the gamut from rides and games in the midway, to the concert series to demolition derby and rodeos in front of the grandstand. There's also animals to see in the agriculture center, plenty of shopping and all the fried food you can handle.

This year's music series features Walker Hayes, Becky G, NE-YO, Brothers Osborne, Violent Femmes and Carly Pearce.

If you're looking to save some money on your visit, you can take advantage of Feel Good Fridays presented by Sanderson Ford on select dates, where 10 nonperishable food items get you free admission into the fair.

History of the fairgrounds

The fairgrounds has been hosting the annual event since 1905.

“It was used as the territorial fair until 1911, then in 1912 it switched over to the state fair," said G.G. George, a resident of the Encanto-Palmcroft community east of the grounds, told KJZZ News in 2015. George also published a book, "The Arizona State Fair," in 2017.

“This represented the bounty of the state of Arizona," she said. "Where they showed it off every October, every November.”

In the 1930s, a new concrete grandstand replaced the original wooden one that burned down. Cattle barns and other structures were added. One in particular is the WPA Civic Building. It was the Arizona headquarters of the Works Project Administration, the agency that oversaw the federal government’s New Deal-era work program.

Car racing on the Arizona State Fairgrounds ended in the 1960s and part of the track was replaced with the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The venue was known as the Madhouse on McDowell as the home of the Phoenix Suns during the team’s early years.

After the fair was canceled in 2020 during the pandemic, the Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board briefly considered moving it to Wild Horse Pass near Chandler. The move was scrapped in 2021 when necessary infrastructure couldn't be made.

If you go

Open: Sept. 22 through Oct. 29 at 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix.

Admission: Starts at $15/person. Deals are available.

More info: azstatefair.com.

Chelsey Heath is a digital editor at KJZZ.