When looking for things to do in Pleasanton, CA, consider going to the Alameda County Fair, one of the most anticipated annual events in the East Bay. This weeks-long event has been running since 1912 and brings a mix of new and traditional activities for the whole family to enjoy.
If you’ve ever wondered what life in Pleasanton, CA is like, annual events like the county fair ought to give you an idea of the excitement that’s in store for you.
What to Expect at the Fair
There’s always something new happening at the fair each year, so no two celebrations are ever the same. 2019 was no exception, with the fair serving up a mix of old and new.
Here’s a look back at the 2019 Alameda County Fair to give you an idea of what you can expect next year:
- Live music – Performers included big names like Ashanti, Gin Blossoms, Loverboy, Sheila E, Trace Adkins, and WAR.
The best part? Bleacher and lawn seats came free with admission tickets. Attendees could choose their seats upon purchasing fair tickets ranging from $15 to $60 for most live concerts inclusive of fair admission.
- Tasting festivals – Attendees had their fill or wine, beer, and cocktails at any of the tasting fests at the racetrack infield.
- Fair Bite Thursdays – On select dates, food vendors offered small bites of their products at just $2 each, giving attendees the perfect opportunity to sample local fare.
- Rides – 2019 brought in a new thrill ride called the “Mega Flip”. Rides cost $1 on special donation days that put the spotlight on the fair’s foster child clothing drive, non-perishable food drive, and pet food drive.
- Cultural festivals – 2019 saw the introduction of new themed-day festivals to the fair, including Asian Pacific Celebration at the Fair, Bollywood at the Fair, Fiesta a la Feria, and Pride/Out at the Fair.
- Contests – There’s always room for some friendly competition at the fair. Last year’s participants joined the Derby Dog Dash, Hippity Hop Contest, and Hat Contest for some fun prizes.
- Horse racing – The fair is one of few California events offering live horse-racing on various dates. Watch the action for free with fair tickets.
- Cattle drive – The fair never forgets to pay tribute to Alameda County’s Old West heritage. In 2019, they kicked off the festivities with a cattle procession.
- Livestock auction – The yearly auction traditionally takes place on the last day of festivities.
- Fireworks and video show – On most days of the fair, attendees can look forward to a stunning fireworks and video show.
- Sports – In 2019, the fair put Arenacross Nationals racing front and center, along with other sports events like Demolition Derby, Extreme Rodeo, and Monster Trucks.
The Alameda County Fairgrounds
The festivities usually take place from mid-June to early July at the fairgrounds, a 207-acre events venue in Pleasanton. Its many facilities include:
- Pleasanton Fairgrounds Racetrack – The oldest 1.6-kilometer horse racetrack in the United States
- Amador Pavilion – Livestock events facility and multipurpose arena
- Pleasanton Golf Center – The center features a nine-hole golf course, golf club, and various golf programs for players of all ages
- Pleasanton Equestrian Center – The center hosts equestrian shows and events
- The Fairpark RV – The gated RV park features a picnic area, bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities in addition to wifi and full hookups
- The Farm – This urban farm runs on solar energy-powered milking parlors, greenhouse gardens, and state-of-the-art beehives, with educational tours by local gardeners, fruit growers, and cattle ranchers.
- Heathcote-MacKenzie House – Also known as The Heritage House, this building on the grounds was built in 1905 and is listed under the Register of Historic Places
The venue also hosts private gatherings at the Event Venue and Exhibition Space, with food and catering by Spectra Food Service. Celebrate your birthday, wedding, anniversary, or reunion on the grounds. Click here for a guide to the fairgrounds’ various events spaces.
Aside from the Alameda County Fair, regular events and activities on the fairgrounds include:
- Goodguys Rod & Custom Association automobile shows – The organization already has 20 car shows across 16 locations planned for 2020, some of which will be held at the fairgrounds.
- The Pirates of Emerson Haunted Themed Park – The park serves up scares and frights in October of each year at the fairgrounds, with the 2020 season marking its 29th year. Attractions include Mystery Mansion, Hillbilly Holler, Pirates of Emerson, Maze Haze, and Dorm of Doom.
- The Scottish Highland Gathering and Games – The event originated in the 1860s, having celebrated its 150th anniversary back in 2015. It is also the biggest Scottish social event of its kind in the United States.
Other seasonal events include:
- Blue Devils Bingo
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Aurora Ventures Christmas Tree
- LumiNight Lantern Festival
- Alameda County Equestrian Holiday Fun Schooling Show
- Annual Manufacturers RV Show
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