Mark your calendars. The 145th annual Utah State Fair is coming Sept. 7-17, and fair officials expect one of their best-ever seasons because of a special effort to "Discover Traditions" (the fair's theme) and a focus on the basics of the event.
Patricia Kremers, marketing coordinator for the Utah State Fair Corp., also said she wants to address several common misconceptions Utahns have about the 11-day fair at 155 N. 1000 West.
First, there's the question of why a gate admission is charged.
"We are a quasi-state group, a nonprofit organization," she said. "We have to be able to take care of ourselves."
This year's daily admission prices will be $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-16, and children age 5 and younger will be free. Seniors, ages 62 and up, will cost $5.
Once in the gate, Kremers said only the grandstand entertainment, the carnival, food and a few other special features cost extra. Otherwise, there are dozens of free events and displays to educate and thrill the entire family.
Families seeking a discount on gate admission will find numerous "buy one, get one free" offers available through various businesses for weekday admission, she said. Also, admission will again be free the first two hours of the fair's opening day.
Parking in a state fair lot will also cost up to $4 a vehicle, but Kremers said people expect to pay for parking nowadays. She said that's an important revenue source for the fair too.
Second, there's the myth that you must win a contest at a county level to enter a state fair contest.
"That used to be true," she said, explaining now it only applies to 4-H food and clothing events.
This means dozens of categories in living arts, cook-offs, the open livestock division and family fun contests are available to anyone.
The best way to find out exact details is to visit the fair's Web site for rules, or obtain a Utah State Fair handbook. Entry deadlines vary from Aug. 16 to Sept. 2.
Four years ago, the fair expanded from just country music artists to rock singers and in between.
"We've really broadened it this year," Kremers said.
Air Supply, Def Leppard, John Michael Montgomery, Lila McCann, Rick Springfield, Lonestar, Ronnie Milsap, Youngstown, Terri Clark and Montgomery Gentry comprise the musical headliners this year and tickets go on sale July 31. Advance ticket prices range from $12 to $18.
New attractions this year will include a Discovery Traveling Science Center; Welde's Big Bear Show, with four free programs a day; the NBA Jam Van Tour ; CRC Championship Battle of the Bulls; and Skybounce, a new parachute ride for $15 a visit.
In addition, Dodge, Ford and General Motors will all have their own exhibits of new vehicles. Chevrolet will sponsor an "Avalanche Ultimate Challenge" Sept. 8-10.
"It's the year of the vehicle," Kremers said. "Each auto maker seems to be trying to outdo the other."
Sept. 9 will feature Endzone Cards and a Pokemon tournament and card trading.
"The state fair used to be where you saw the new items," Kremers said, and she believes that trend is now making a comeback.
For more information on the State Fair on the Web, see www.utah-state-fair.com.
Call 538-7827 to order tickets for the grandstand entertainment, or visit the box office at the state fairgrounds.