SACRAMENTO -- Better hours and a slew of new attractions are among the highlights of the 2012 California State Fair, which runs July 12-29 at Cal Expo.
The fairgrounds will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Magical Midway hours are:
-- 2-11 p.m. Monday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
-- Tuesday, noon-11 p.m. Wednesday, and 11 a.m.-midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
-- The Kids Park will be operational 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m.-midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In keeping with the theme "Fun That Moves You," the 2012 State Fair introduces an array of entertaining, challenging, educational and thoroughly enjoyable activities and experiences for all ages. Most of them are free with fair admission:
1) "Wizard's Challenge" (in front of Bldg A) - Explore the magic and wonder of science in a 9,600-square-foot, Medieval-themed, mostly interactive exhibit. Morph your face with someone else's in the Morphing Mirror. Try to identify mysterious smells in Common Scents.
Dare to walk through the Dragon's Lair. Make beautiful music with the Enchanted Organ and Steel Drums. Take on all-comers at the Giant Chess Set. There are 20 activities in all. And don't miss the Magic of Science stage show with three performances daily. "Wizard's Challenge" is sponsored by SMUD.
2) "Sun-Maid Celebrating 100 Years of Fruit and Sunshine" (Expo Center, Bldg 3) - The Kingsburg-based company, a cooperative owned by nearly 1,000 families who grow raisin grapes, celebrates 100 years of a thriving enterprise by displaying from its collection two paintings and a chromo lithograph by the celebrated America artist Norman Rockwell.
The Sun-Maid celebration also includes an interactive exhibit that
tells the story of dried-fruit production in California and the history of the iconic Sun-Maid Girl. The Sun-Maid chef will cook up heritage recipes in the Sun-Maid Kitchen.
3) "Girl Scouts Zone"(Bldg A-B) - Celebrating 100 years of scouting, Girl Scouts Heart of Central California worked with Randy Roberts, deputy director of the Crocker Art Museum, and museum consultant Rachel Tooker to create an interactive exhibit that shows how Girl Scouts discover, connect and take action to make the world a better place.
4) "Toytopia 2.0" (Expo Center, Bldg 5) - Sacramento's Stage Nine Entertainment returns with an interactive exhibit for folks of all ages. Doodle on the world's largest Etch-a-Sketch and pretend that you live in a giant dollhouse. Build something with Legos and other construction toys. Visit the stuffed animal Toytopia Zoo. Check out model planes, trains and automobiles, and play the day away at a retro game arcade. Don't forget to visit the official Toytopia store inside the exhibit.
5) "Birds in Paradise"(Floriculture) - Wander deep into the "jungle" where macaws, Amazon and cockatoos inhabit the "parrot tree." Marvel at colorful peacocks, along with a charm of finches, a colony of canaries, along with kookaburra, amazons, curassow and other "singers." Experts will be on hand to talk about the feathered flock. And look for exotic plants, many of which were propagated and nurtured in the State Fair's
Landscape Yard: vanilla orchid, sugar cane, cocoa, coffee, banana, papaya and pineapple. Free California poppy-seed packs will be given away while supplies last.
6) "Wet 'n' Wild" (Bldg B)- The California Department of Water Resources and California Department of Fish and Game team up on a water and wildlife exhibit designed to educate the public about native animals and how water impacts their habitats. See raccoon, bobcat, bald eagle, rattlesnake and amphibians in enclosures similar to their native habitats. Watch educational and entertaining presentations with a beaver, turkey vulture, North American porcupine, desert tortoise and hawk at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily.
7) "We Stand on Their Shoulders"(Bldg A) - Sacramento State professor emeritus Felicenne Ramey created a documentary-style exhibit in which photographs of elderly African-American men and women are paired with their musings on life. Ramey began working on the project in 2009. The exhibit comes to the State Fair after making its debut earlier this year at the Sacramento State library.
8) " The Flying Marbellos & Friends" (Expo Center, Bldg 7) - Vallejo dentist and artist Victor Chaney creates wacky and hypnotic kinetic sculptures, including the circus-themed "The Flying Marbellos" and "H2-Opus," a musical fountain. See six of his unique works in the Fine Art building.
9) Guinness World Record attempts- Be a part of history at the California State Fair as not one, but two, world records are challenged. The world's largest cocktail, a Margarita, will be built starting at 10 a.m. July 13 in an enormous stainless steel shaker on Palm Avenue.
A Roseville woman will attempt the longest continuous Ferris wheel ride. She's set to begin her quest at 5 a.m. July 23 in the Magical Midway.
She'll have to outlast the Los Angeles police detective who set the current record of 25 hours in June 2012.
10) My First Ride (Cavalcade of Horses arena) - Never been on a horse before? Now cowboys and cowgirls of all ages can saddle up for a jaunt around the arena. Rides will be given at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on July 15, 17, 24, 27 and 28. At 3 p.m. every day, kids can participate in stick-horse games and pony painting.
11) On the Magical Midway - Butler Amusements amps up the fun with old favorites and some new attractions, including White Water Log Flume, Mega Drop Tower and Circle of Champions. The Zillerator Coaster makes its return to the 2012 State Fair.
12) High Fly'n Zip Line (behind Expo Center, Bldg 5) - Also debuting at the 2012 State Fair, brought in by Butler Amusements, is a 600-foot-long zip line on which up to four riders will fly along at 35 mph. The highest elevation is 60 feet. Riders must weigh between 30 and 250 pounds. Zip line tickets are $20 and do not include State Fair admission. Carnival wristband and carnival tickets cannot be used for this ride.
13) Gran Jaripeo con Ezequiel Pena y Mucho Mas- The action includes a bull-riders-only rodeo, renowned Mexican entertainer Ezequiel Pena who will perform as he rides around the arena on horseback, and much more. (4-10 p.m. July 29, Horse Show and Rodeo Arena)
Tickets are for sale now at http://www.bigfun.org