SALT LAKE CITY — Booths and carnival rides came to rest in their designated areas. Food carts rolled in, and pens were set up for animals.
"After 158 years, it's still a completely new fair every year," said Judy Duncombe, director of the Utah State Fair.
Duncombe said the variety comes largely from Utahns' participation in events such as the Living Arts exhibit, where people enter their jam, photographs and knit items. It's one of her favorite events of the fair.
“I’m just amazed at the talent of the people of the state of Utah," Duncombe said.
Among this year's highlights is the return of the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and the state fair debut of Great American Duck Racing, she said.
"We've had racing pigs (and) we've had racing goats, but this is the first time we've had racing ducks," Duncombe said. "I'm looking forward to seeing that show and having people enjoy that."
The fair opens Thursday and runs through Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or at Smith's Food and Drug stores for a discounted price.
The Utah Transit Authority is offering a free trip home on the new airport TRAX line, which stops just outside the fairgrounds. Fairgoers just need their one-way fare stamped at fair entrance.
Jeff Kooring, director of sales and marketing for the fair, said with new advertising strategies, the new TRAX line and a little optimism, organizers are hoping to see 300,000 people attend the fair this year.
"Of course, TRAX is a big deal for us," he said.
Kooring said people attending the fair this year will get the events "they've come to expect," such as food, animals and entertainment.
"There's always a reliable experience for our guests," he said.
This year's lineup, however, offers more opportunities for audience participation, Kooring said.
People can take part in "The Price is Right" or bring items to show American Pickers in the grandstand. Kooring said the grandstand also will be filled with sand for the Kahuna Beach Party on Sept. 14, with a Beach Boys cover band performing. Organizers are hoping to make the beach party an annual tradition, Kooring said.
The fair also will include the annual rodeo, demolition derby, truck pull and giant yellow slide, he said.
And of course, there will be plenty of food, including deep-fried alligator meat, Rocky Mountain oysters and chocolate-covered bacon waffles.
"If you can deep fry it, it's here," Kooring said.
More information can be found at the Utah State Fair website.