Fair offers family fun this weekend

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Fair offers family  fun this weekendVisitors line up for the attractions at a previous Desert Empire Fair — News Review file photo

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For a few dollars at the gate (or less if you take advantage of one of many specials this year), families can enjoy more than $40,000 worth of music, attractions and other entertainment at this year’s Desert Empire Fair.

“I have been trying to emphasize more attractions for kids since I took over,” said DEF CEO Chip Holloway, who stepped into the role in 2016. “I really want to pack value into the gate fee.”

This year kids 10 and younger can access a fun zone that has bounce houses, T-ball and other activities. Holloway said that the zone is geared toward those who are too small to ride some of the fair rides.

Families can also visit the mini-haunted house staged by Community Light Opera and Theatre Association volunteers, who are promoting their annual Spook House (held at the Old Towne Theatre the following weekend).

Entertainment includes “Life in the Fast Lane,” an Eagles tribute band that has been favorite with previous fairgoers. The Sheleighlys, a popular local band, will also perform.

“We have tons of vendors — the halls are going to be packed this year,” said Holloway.

“One of the coolest new attractions we have added this year is the ‘NASCAR Experience. This is the simulator that NASCAR drivers use, and it gives adults and kids the same experience.”

The simulator will be set up in Desert Valleys Hall (formerly Mesquite Hall), and is free with the cost of admission.

The Street Drum Corps, as seen on America’s Got Talent, will be back with their popular act.

Holloway said that recurring attractions include the Junior Livestock Auction, which has expanded in recent years and will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday in a completely refurbished facility.

After an absence, the Demolition Derby will return Sunday at 5 p.m. “This is a whole new organization that the fair put together,” said Holloway.

“The previous group disbanded, I believe because of a lack of volunteers. But the buzz for this year’s event has been really good. We already have about 25 cars committed, and apparently it’s notorious for people to just show up on the day.”

Holloway said that the fair typically attracts 8,000 over the course of the weekend. “We had lower attendance last year because of the wind, so I think we can beat that this year.

“And I think everyone’s favorite part of the fair is the food.” In addition to perennial favorites, this year’s offerings will include lumpia from a popular local vendor, lobster, tri-tip and more.

Anyone wanting to have unlimited rides can purchase a wristband for $28.

Admission is $8 each for the general public, with a reduced rate of $4 each for seniors, military, and children 6-12. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Some other attractions carry charges outside of gate and wristband fees.

On Friday there is no admission to go to the fair. On Sunday kids 12 and younger get in free. From noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, any visitor can get in free with a donation valued at $5 or more for the animal shelter.

Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday, noon to midnight on Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

For a complete schedule, and other details, visit desertempirefair.com.

Story First Published: 2018-10-19