Fair Time, DEF: Family, fun, food and farm animals

Fair Time, DEF: Family, fun, food and farm animalsBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

Live music, comedians, racing pigs, a demolition derby, barrel racing, wandering entertainers, fair food and vendors are just a few of the ways to be entertained at the Desert Empire Fair from October 22 to 24. “Five dollars gets you into basically about $50,000 worth of entertainment,” says Chip Holloway, Chief Executive Officer of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds and Events Center. This year the fair goes to single price admission; folks can text the word “Ticket” to 760-760-2226 and receive a link to purchase tickets from their phone and show their ticket via phone at the entrance gate.

This makes it quick and easy and will shorten lines. “Skip the line, text for tickets,” says Holloway. Even presale ride wristbands are available via this text at $23 before the fair opens and $28 starting the day of the fair. Wristbands are also for sale at Red Rock Books, the Drive-Thru Dairy and Desert Valleys Credit Union. Boy Scouts will be directing parking and receiving part of the $5.00 parking fee.

The live music features two popular bands who have been here before: Life in the Fast Lane, an Eagles Tribute and Bad Moon Rising, a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band. Also on the docket are Bad Miller, a tribute to Bad Company and Steve Miller, 60’s Summer of Love, playing Motown and 60’s classics, and Sons of Rock and Roll, a classic rock cover band. Also returning this year is Big Bad Boogie Rock with disco era tunes. Music generally starts at dusk; however, this year the Burroughs Jazz Band will play at 2pm on Saturday.

There’s lots of free entertainment for the kids and some with extra admission. A petting zoo, camel rides, Nickelodeon performer Mickey O’Keefe, Birdman with his bird demonstrations, Buck Trout puppetry, Jack Spare Ribs Comedy Show, Jeremy the Juggler, Alaskan Racing Pigs, and new this year is a kids tractor pull called Pedal Pullers by All Alaskan.

Quite popular with locals is the Ridgecrest Destruction Derby on Sunday night. The gates open at 4:30pm, there is driver meet and greet at 5pm to 5:30pm, and the derby begins at 6:00pm. Holloway explains, “People build these cars to very strict specifications, so hopefully nobody gets hurt. Then they try to destroy each other, they just bash each other. It’s probably one of the most popular things at the fair. It was here for years and it left for a few years and now it’s back.” There is a separate ticket for the derby: $20 for adults and $15 for kids which includes fair admission.

The Junior Livestock will be going on throughout with the all important auction being held on Saturday at 4pm. “That’s where the kids get to sell their animals in order to get enough money to buy a new animal for the following year. Those kids work all year raising these animals.”

Returning this year is the model train that takes up the entire Sage Hall which required still exhibits to be moved to Joshua Hall. “Train guys come from all over the Southern California. And it’s an incredible model. It’s free and it takes up the entire building, you have to walk around it. It’s really cool,” says Holloway.

As to be expected, the pandemic has been tough on fairs but this year California fairs are seeing increased attendance due to people just wanting to get out of the house. The Desert Empire Fair is no exception to the pandemic challenges and it would be great to have folks go to the fair. Vendors who rely on the fairs have also been affected. Holloway says, “We don’t have as many food vendors lined up because the fair industry took it. It was devastating last year. Some of the concessionaires totally went out of business. The other issue is a lot of concessionaires are having trouble getting labor, they can’t get people to work, and then you’ve got some of the older vendors are still afraid, because of COVID, to interact with the public.” Holloway adds, “Hopefully we get great attendance. The two things I really count on is the fact that every fair has been having great attendance because people are dying to get out and the $5 admission” will get some people that just for whatever reason never came to the fair.”

News Review file photo: The fair is in town! Fun for the whole family. Be entertained at the Desert Empire Fair from today, October 22 to 24. Admission is $5. Spectators will enjoy rides and attractions featuring live music, racing pigs, a demolition derby, wandering entertainers and fair food to name a few.

Story First Published: 2021-10-22