Family Guide to the 2016 Sonoma County Fair

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In its 80th year, the Sonoma County Fair has grown to become one of the most popular in the state, famous for its top quality horse racing, stunning flower show, and constant innovations in family entertainment. 15 Days of family fun at the Sonoma County Fair comes our way July 22-August 7 (closed Mondays).


The Sonoma County Fair is loaded with activities for the young and old. Most are included in regular fair admission, some are extra. In this article we will highlight how to get the best deals for your family and all the FREE kids activities that are included in the price of admission.


There are many ways to save money at the Sonoma County Fair:


The following FREE activities are available for kids at the Sonoma County Fair:

Barnyard Fun

  • Sweet Lil's Farmery: Watch chicks emerge from their shells, try spinning yarn with a real spinning wheel, feed a goat kid with a bottle or try milking Sweet Lil, our amazing demonstration "cow." Visit Sweet Lil’s in its new location in Saralee & Richard’s Barn.
  • Great American Petting Zoo: Play with llamas, Fallow Deer, African Pygmy Goats, assorted exotic and domestic goats and sheep, Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs, Bantam Chickens, miniature Sicilian Donkeys, miniature Call Ducks, and baby animals born all year long.
  • The Milk Barn: Watch cows being milked and learn about Sonoma County's famous dairy industry. Milking times vary August 2-7.
  • Cattle Barns: These barns house both Dairy Cows and Beef Cattle. Dairy Cows are on display August 2-7, and Beef Cattle are on display July 26 – 31.
  • Sheep & Goats: Did you know that both sheep and goats have 32 teeth, but neither have upper front teeth?Explore the sheep and goat barns every day to disover fun new facts. Sheep are on display July 22- 24, 29- 31 & August 2- 4. Goats are on display July 22 - July 28, 30-31 & August 5- 6.
  • Fur & Feathers: More than just chickens and bunnies, this barn is home to more varieties than any other. Visit the Geese, Cavies (Guinea Pigs), Rabbits, Ducks, Turkeys, Chickens and all kinds of other birds. Rabbits are on display July 22- 24. Poultry on display July 22-29 & August 4-5. Cavies (Guinea Pigs) on display July 29-31.
  • Swine Barns: Meander the Swine Barns and discover all the shapes and sizes of this year's competing pigs. Pigs are on display July 22-29.





Farmers Day, Sunday July 24, 1-3pm (fun & educational barnyard events)

  • Opening Ceremonies: Introduction of the 2016 Wine Country Rodeo Queen
  • Drill Team Demonstration: Watch these talented young horseback riders from Petaluma Junior Riders show off their remarkable skills as they maneuver through a complicated series of patterns with amazing precision.

  • Grand Entry: Our Rodeo Queen will lead a “stick horse” drill with youngsters 10 years old and under. Watch these kids master the art of riding a stick horse and not get bucked off! (At 12:00 noon, the first 25 kids that arrive at the Chris Beck Arena Box Office will receive a free stick-horse to ride in the grand entry).
  • Team Penning Challenge: Top 5 teams compete in this bonus round! Winning team will take home an additional $300 in prize money. $300 bonus donated by Ag Credit.
  • Wild Cow Milking: Cheer for your favorite team to get a single drop of milk out of a wild cow’s udder. Belt Buckle winners will come back for a “bounty round” (another wild cow with a $300 bounty on her head.) Sponsored by Lindley Cattle Company.
  • Hide Race: Fastest time around the arena will earn this 2-person team (one horse rider, 1 hide rider) the grand prize of trophy belt buckles! In honor of past Farmer's Day Chairperson Tina Finali, sponsored by the Finali Family Partnership.
  • Presentation of Award Recipients: We recognize these outstanding individuals in the Ag Community. These outstanding individuals will be brought into the arena on wagons being driven by the North Coast Draft Horse Club.

    * Award of Excellence in the Horse Industry: Ed Vanoni, Geyserville
    * Outstanding North Bay Rancher: Mike Michelson, Petaluma
    * Dairy of the Year: Richard & Marilyn Hughes, Bodega Bay
    * Joe DiGrazia Award Recipients: Selected by the Sonoma County 4-H Foundation
  • Stick Horse Competition: Participants that arrive with their stick-horses will be judged on their western attire, decoration of the stick horse and performance of their routine. Winner receives a shiny new Belt Buckle in honor of Tina Finali, who will be missed by all who loved her.
  • Pig Scramble: Kids (must be pre-entered into this competition) must catch a slippery pig to win a Gift Card! 15 winners will win a gift card generously sponsored by Yogurt Time.

  • Mutton Bustin: 5 to 7 Years Old. Watch brave kids hang on for the ride of their life as they climb aboard a sheep and ride into the arena!
  • Sheep Dog Demonstration: Watch teamwork in action as the handler and his dog round up 15 sheep and gently persuade all of them to climb back into a trailer for their ride back home.
  • Wild Goat Milking: Teams of 2 will attempt to hand milk a goat in this contest of speed, skill, and dexterity!
  • Sonoma County Fair Sheep Dog Trials (3:30pm): Take place at the conclusion of the Farmers’ Day program.


Kids Area (just inside the Brookwood gate)

  • Free shows specifically for children
  • Free craft projects and dress-up area
  • Free creative hands-on activities
  • Plenty of shade and lawn where overcharged youngsters can relax and unwind.
  • A Parent’s Rest Station for baby changing and nursing. (Also where you go for lost children.)

“Let’s Put on a Show!” is the theme in the Kids Area this year. Young fairgoers, ages 10 and under, can be a part of the show three times a day, acting the part in our show. Actors will put on costumes, then it’s ‘on with the show!” Anything is possible, and every show will be different. There might be pirates, dinosaurs, circus clowns, jungle animals or even astronauts! Throughout the afternoon, kids can take part in craft projects and hands-on activities. The Fair’s pirate ship (Pirates of the Russian River!) will be docked nearby, and pint-sized pirates will be welcomed aboard. (12:00pm – 6:30pm).




Barrel Racing (July 29 @ 5:30pm): Riders steer their horses around a series of barrels, coming as close as they can to shave precious seconds off the clock. Fast and furious, this sport is exhilarating for rider and spectator alike!

Pig Races: It’s pig racing time at the Sonoma County Fair! Jennifer’s All Creatures brings their speedy swine to Santa Rosa to dispel once and for all the myth that pigs just lay around all day. Watch these pigs race around the track for the joy of victory (and treats!). Choose your favorite and cheer him on! Every day 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00 & 7:00 pm.


Pollywood Bird Show: Hollywood’s brightest and most colorful stars won’t just be seen on the red carpet this year… they can be seen LIVE at the Sonoma County Fair! Nancy Riegler hosts the Pollywood Bird Show starring a line-up of savvy performing birds with a crazy, comedic edge. These bird stars have been seen on The Tonight Show, Animal Planet’s Pet Star, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and in many other commercials, television shows and movies (Paulie the Movie). Shows start at 1:15, 3:30 & 6:30 PM on Backdoor Stage.


Squirm Burpee: Get ready for a one-of- a-kind, Vaudeville Nouveau-meets- classic melodrama, Tim Burton-meets- Wile E. Coyote, all-American, one-quarter European, contraption-riddled, character-driven, risk-taking, expectation-breaking, circus-infused, standing-ovation- inducing, theatrical extravaganza! Squirm Burpee, a vaudevillian melodrama, presented by the Handsome Little Devils, takes the stage at this summer’s Sonoma County Fair. The story explodes through high-energy acts like The Human Cannon, The Ladder of Love and Chainsaw Juggling, not to mention classic vaudeville comedy routines, hilarious romantic antics and swing dancing!

Tinsel Town Trivia: Light, Camera, Fair! Head down to the Barnyard Stage and see how you do playing our movie-themed game show. Tinsel Town Trivia will challenge your wits – and your memory, whether you play or take your seat in the studio audience. Our game show host will ask questions relating to movies, celebrities and more, as he makes the show fun for all. Shows start at 2:00, 4:30 & 6:00 PM.


Daily Parade: Strolling bands, floats, giant puppets and kids in costume are just the beginning! The Parade starts at 5:00 PM and lasts just 15 minutes. If you would like to be in the parade, just go to the staging area (by the Milk Barn) by 4:45 PM. You can march along while playing a drum, twirling a baton, wearing a grape costume or pulling a wagon...there are possibilities to fit all sizes and talents. We want YOU to be in the parade!


Tour the Fair on a Horse-Pulled Wagon: Free Rides Daily! This is the way to see the Fair’s famed Livestock Area—from a wagon pulled by draft horses. You’ll roll along past the sheep barns, the cattle barns and the livestock area. Catch a ride at the "Welcome to the Livestock Area" sign.


FREE Cake: There' always a reason for free cake! Stay alert...when you see the cake cart arrive, get in line and claim your free piece.

Eat a FREE Clover ice cream cone: Don't miss your chance to receive FREE Clover ice cream at the Clover Stornetta Booth everyday from 1:00 - 4:00PM or until supplies last!

Dance to live musicAround the fairgrounds; also FREE live concerts at Park Stage every day, nearly all day long. The Community Theater will also be bursting with talent during the Sonoma County Fair with everything from our NEW Community Concert Series to Talent Competitions to various Tribute Bands. You won't want to miss a single performance and you won't have to because ALL concerts are now FREE with Fair admission!

Movie Treasure Hunt: As you head out around the Fair for this Movie Treasure Hunt, you will learn some interesting things about movies made in Sonoma County. Go to an information booth when you arrive at the Fair to get a Treasure Hunt Book and get started! After you fill your book with stamps, you may claim a small prize.

Livestock Area: Presented by FFA and 4H groups - includes poultry, rabbits, pigs, cows, lambs, and goats.

Walk through the Hall of Flowers: A home town favorite and a must see for all! Every year professional landscapers, landscape designers, amateur gardeners and young floral enthusiasts work diligently to create fully formed fantasy gardens. It takes almost four months to transform the hall into a floral wonderland as the designers adhere to a central theme that presents creative challenges.


For more FREE Fair activities, visit the Fair's FREE Family Fun page.




The Classic American Carnival

Carnival Ride Ticket Prices: $.50 per ticket, $25 for a pack of 50, and $50 for a pack of 100

Kiddie Carnival & Cub Country: Country: Kid Land with scaled down thrills and lots of excitement for the younger kids and "Cub Country", the award winning "mini kid land" for the smallest family members. Remember that Fair admission is free every day for children 6 and under, and Fridays are Kids Days, with free Fair admission for all children 12 and under.

New this year: 

Happy Swing Kid Ride - This brand new kid ride gives new meaning to Swinging, the little ones are sure to be happy after a ride on this cool new Swing ride that takes the old swing set into the modern age.

Pony Express Kid Ride - This unique one of a kind ride features galloping pony express horses that take riders on a journey around a track, complete with sound, saddles and stirrups.




Arena Shows (require extra admission)




Plan ahead to get the best fair prices! Purchase Pre-Sale tickets, Economy Packs, or participate in the Discount Days to get the best deals.


Fair & Carnival Pre-sale Discounts (can be purchased online through July 21)

Single Admission Tickets:

$9 General (Ages 13+, $12 Value)

$6 Kids (Ages 7 - 12)

FREE Every Day (6 and Younger)

Carnival WOW Coupon:

$25 ($35 Value)

Includes: Tickets for 10 rides -OR- an all-day Carnival Wristband to enjoy unlimited rides (all ages), 2-for- 1 play coupon, free popcorn and gift (subject to change). Sold only until July 21, while supplies last.

**(Not recommended for use on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays)


Season Passes, Family Packs, and Carnival Economy Packs (sold at Box Office Only until July 21)

Season Admission Pass:
$40 ($165 Value, non-transferable); One person may attend all 15 days with this pass!

Family Pack$40 ($55 Value)

Includes: 3 General Admissions, 2 Kids Admissions, one $7 Parking Pass.

Carnival Economy Pack:

$115 ($282 Value)

Includes: 6 Too Good To Be True Coupons for the price of 5, good on any “Too Good To Be True” day; Too Good To Be True Coupon Includes: Gate Admission and an all-day Carnival Wristband to enjoy unlimited rides (all ages).

Fair Discount Days (available at the Gate only)

Too Good To Be True Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays - $23:
Includes: Gate Admission and a Carnival Wristband to enjoy unlimited rides (all ages). Fairgoers may choose to purchase regular gate admission only, if they do not choose to enjoy the carnival.

Pay-One-Price Fridays - Sundays - $35:
Includes:A Carnival Wristband to enjoy unlimited rides (all ages). Use your WOW Coupon these days.
Seniors' Day Thursdays - Seniors 60 & Up FREE
Kids (7 – 12) - FREE on Fridays
Kids (6 and Younger) - FREE Every Day

Food Bank Fridays:
Bring 2 nonperishable food items and get $2 off on General Fair Admission! Limit: 1 discount/person


See you at the Fair!!!

Click on a day to see events