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News / Life / Entertainment

Changes to entertainment in store for this year’s Central Washington State Fair in Yakima

By Sara Rae Shields, Yakima Herald-Republic
Published: June 24, 2024, 5:15am

YAKIMA — The Central Washington State Fair surveyed fairgoers after last year’s Yakima fair and heard plenty.

Fair officials said they are listening, and have made changes to this year’s fair in response.

Attendees will see some significant changes to the entertainment lineup and schedules this year. The most notable change is free entry to the Toyota Concert Series with fair admission. The concert schedule is reduced to weekend performances instead of a show every night.

And weekday hours will be different, with gates opening at 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

This year’s fair theme, “Harvest the Fun,” highlights apples, one of the Yakima Valley’s largest commodities. The fair, which runs Sept. 20-29, takes place during apple harvest season and the fair’s agricultural display will feature the valley’s apple industry history, varieties grown here and how the world is fed by Yakima Valley apples.

Entertainment changes

This year’s Toyota Concert series will feature tribute bands both weekends of the fair and concerts are free with fair admission and is open for all ages.

“We listened to the community for the past two years telling us they wanted more free entertainment at the fair, combined with the escalating costs of touring artists and production as well as limited artists’ availability for the market,” fair CEO Kathy Kramer said in a news release.

The 2024 Toyota Concert series will feature Queen Nation (Queen tribute band) on Friday, Sept. 20; Dirt Road: Jason Aldean Experience and American Soldier: A Tribute to Toby Keith on Saturday, Sept. 21; Red Corvette: The Ultimate Prince Tribute Act at on Sunday, Sept. 22; Noise Pollution (AC/DC tribute) on Friday, Sept. 27; Keith as Kenny — A Kenny Chesney Experience and Eric Church tribute on Saturday, Sept. 28; and Papa Doo Run Run (Beach Boys tribute) on Sunday, Sept. 29.

“These are some of the best tribute bands out there in the country,” Kramer said. “Once the community sees the new layout area and how it’s going to work, you can move around and hang out with your friends,” creating a more festival environment.

Entertainment on the Toyota main stage starts at 5 p.m. with an opening band and the main act at 7 p.m. Opening bands will be Huckleberry Road on Sept. 20-22 and Copper Mountain Band on Sept. 27-29.

The Toyota main stage will also be in a different location in the grassy area south of the Modern Living building with a family-friendly section and the Corona Corral and Bar, designated for ages 21 and over. There will also be VIP ticket packages available for $35 and will include fair admission, covered seating and private restrooms.

Small businesses

The fair will continue its support of local small businesses with the third year of the Home Town Market Place in the SunDome. The market is an opportunity for local, small businesses to sell their products or services for fewer days and at a discounted rate, making the fair more accessible for them.

The Home Town Market Place will expand this year and has been an exciting program Kramer said.

“The whole idea is to use it as a mechanism to get the small businesses having the audience of the fair and help them incubate out of that,” Kramer said.

Vendor space is still available for businesses that make their own products. Learn more about the Home Town Market Place by calling the State Fair Park office at 509-248-7160.

Change to hours

This year’s fair will see a few other changes and new features.

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Hours for this year’s fair will be different. Gates will open at 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at noon Friday through Sunday.

The 2 p.m. start time reflects input from vendors, fair partners and fairgoers.

“By time the fair rolls around, school’s back in session, folks are working,” Kramer said in an interview. “We started to analyze our numbers for the past few years and we’re really seeing people coming later in the afternoon. Folks that were selling things in the SunDome and our food concessionaires say ‘hey, we’re really not selling a lot right now.’”

Traffic is much less during the weekdays from noon-2 p.m. said vendors and food concessionaires in comprehensive conversations with fair board members.

More activities

Fun Ville is a new outdoor family friendly area located at the south end of State Fair Park and will be anchored by the popular All Alaskan Pig Races as well as a live butterfly display, petting zoo, pony rides and a variety of outdoor games and activities.

“This area is really going to be focusing on families,” Kramer said. “We’ll have tables and chairs in that area that they can go and do all those things and still have an area to kind of take a rest.”

Every child that visits Fun Ville will receive a free apple.

There will also be a VIP parking lot located in the south parking lot on the corner Nob Hill Boulevard and S. Fair Avenue. The VIP parking lot will cost $20 per day on a first come, first served basis.

Events at the Coca-Cola Grandstand will require a separate ticket and will include fair admission.

Rough Stock Round-up from Aces Wild Pro Rodeo Productions on Saturday, Sept. 21, with shows at 2 and 6 p.m. Both performances will include bareback riding, ranch and saddleback riding, SunSation Rodeo Flag Team, rodeo clowns and bull riding.

Insanity Fest takes over the grandstand on Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 28-29 with two performances each day at 2 and 6 p.m.

Motorsports fans will be treated to monster truck battles, truck pulling competitions, entertainer Full Boogie Tilt and Blast from the Past jet truck.