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Rides are part of the fun at The Best Little Fair with a Desert Flair. / Laura Austin File Photo

Food, fun and frivolity at the Desert Empire Fair Oct. 20-22

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–  It is fair time in Ridgecrest. The Best Little Fair with a Desert Flair brings its fun from Friday, October 20, at 4 p.m. through the Destruction Derby that starts at 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 22. Admission is only $5.00 for all day, with special events having their own fees. But not to worry, there is plenty to keep you entertained all day with just the general admission.

“Come to the fair,” says Chip Holloway,  Chief Executive Officer of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds and Events Center. “The fair has always been the one time of year a lot of people get together and see people that they haven’t seen all year.” Not only is this a great time for all, but it provides funding for other special times at the fairgrounds. “Come support the fair, even if you’re not necessarily a fair person.  I feel really good about the variety of things we have this year, and there’s going to be something for everybody.”

For the first time this year, the fair is bringing The Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit, a high-tech, 83-foot tractor-trailer that transforms into a 1,100-square-foot exhibit to further educate people across the country about the events of that tragic day.  Holloway says, “We added the 9/11 Museum to the attractions this year. We should be appealing across the board, locally and regionally. I think we’re going to attract people from out of town just for the 9/11 exhibit, and I think they’re going to be impressed.” They are still raising funds to bring this exhibit. Be on the lookout for information about motorcycles escorting the exhibit into town. The exhibit will be open for limited hours: 4 pm until 10 pm on Friday and 1 pm until 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday. It is free with fair admission.

“Our tagline is The Best Little Fair in California, which started tongue-in-cheek, but I think we’ve actually accomplished that. I’ve been told by insurance people who come here to inspect the fair that they think ours is the closest to the old, traditional County Fair, and people like that. Food, fun, and frivolity are to be had by all.”

Holloway makes sure your $5.00 admission includes lots of choices for families to enjoy. He brings back his favorite attractions and finds new ones. “Freddy Prez is coming back. He hasn’t been here in a while since he relocated to Maine. He does all the kids’ games. And he’s adding something this year which is new. Once a day, we’re going to do a trivia contest, which is kind of cool, where everybody can do it off their phone.” It will be in the food court with cash prizes. Also returning are Jack Spareribs, the number one rated show every year, Tina Marie, the comedy hypnotist, Jeremy the Juggler, Alaskan Racing Pigs, and the Pedal Pullers Kid’s tractor races. Desert Valleys Hall will house the largest train exhibit in Southern California. And, of course, there will be lots and lots of food vendors. New this year are lifelike creatures, Dinos and Dragons, who will be strolling the grounds, and the Wild About Monkeys show. Also new is the Still Exhibits sponsors a hot dog eating contest modeled after the 4th of July Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest as seen on ESPN.

Locals will be well-represented in Sage Hall with the Made In Ridgecrest exhibits. Joshua Hall’s Still Exhibits will have juried exhibits of baked goods, photography, quilting, table settings and more. Also in Joshua Hall will be the Oasis Club’s 73rd Plant Show.

Live music is always a feature of the fair. Returning is One of These Nights, an Eagles Tribute band; 60s Summer of Love will play the classic hits of that era, from Motown to the Beach Boys. Get Down Tonight will play the hits from the ’70s until today. Lenny Hoops will be on the food court stage. Holloway says, “Close your eyes and Lenny will make you think Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, or Sinatra is in the house.”

On Saturday afternoon, local teens will be able to hear Black Heartstrings, which features two Burroughs students, Brett Hiatt and Sasha Hamaker and two young adults, Kenneth Ramone and Noah Blackman. The Burroughs Jazz Band will also be playing. Kids can also check out the Junior Livestock Show at 4pm on Saturday. (See 4-H Kids Pg 6 ) in today’s issue of The News Review)

Saturday night at 8pm brings the DEF Round UP Rodeo with a combination of professional cowboys as well as local contestants. And Sunday night the ever popular Destruction Derby, of which Holloway says, “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.

“For the first time this year, we’re offering reserved seating for both the rodeo and the demo derby,” he adds. “You can go online and actually pick out where you’re going to sit in the arena. That’s cool, because the demo Derby has a bad habit of people standing up. So, we’re offering an opportunity to make sure you have a seat when you get there.

“Attendance has been good the last two years. The rodeo went from a volunteer rodeo to a professional rodeo, which brings a lot more different categories. I’m looking forward to this year because everybody that was there last year said great things about it.”

For information on tickets sales see ad Pg 10.Holloway advises to follow social media for info and updates.

On the horizon for the fairgrounds is a Tina Turner tribute on November 11, February 2024 will bring Radio Journey – a Tribute to Journey from Austin, Texas featuring Ridgecrest native Chanin Edge Young and Trona native Johnny Young and a two-day rodeo/concert event.