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Alameda County Fair: A How-to-Go Guide

Whether you're a longtime fairgoer or a first-timer, here are some things you should know before you go to the 100th annual Alameda County Fair.

It’s time for the Alameda County Fair!

Whether you’re a regular fairgoer or a first-timer, Patch wants to help you make the most of your fair experience. Here's some need-to-know info. And feel free to share your tips in the comments below.

Fair 101: This year marks the 100th year of the fair, which opens today, Wednesday, and runs six days a week (closed Mondays) through July 8, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays (opens 10 a.m. July 4) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Fireworks shows are happening three times this year instead of just one — Friday, June 22, June 29 and July 6. Each show starts around 9:30 p.m.

Horse racing starts Thursday. Here is the schedule: June 21 - June 24, June 28 - July 1, July 4 - July 8.

Tickets: Admission is $10 for adults at the gate; discounted rates and special sale days offered for seniors, children and veterans; ages 6 and younger get in free. Click here for details on ticket prices.

Getting There: The fairgrounds are off the Bernal Avenue exit of I-680. Parking is $8 to $20 per car. If you’re meeting someone there, remember there are several entrances: The Yellow Gate on Pleasanton Avenue is closest to the children’s carnival area and the race track; the Red Gate is accessible from Valley and closest to the large animal stable; the Green Gate, right off I-680 and Bernal Avenue, is closest to the main carnival and exhibition buildings.

If you’re coming from a nearby city, you might consider parking at the main Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and taking the Wheels No. 8 bus to the fairgrounds. Wheels will expand its service so buses will run every day the fair is open. Livermore residents also can take Wheels Route 10 bus to the fair. The stop is a four-block walk to the fair entrance.

There is some free street parking in the neighborhoods around the fair, but spots go quickly and it's about a 10- or 15-minute walk to the gates. 

Free Concerts: Music fans line up by the dozens to get first dibs on a good seat at the free concerts, which are at 7 p.m. daily. Click .

Hungry? If you're not in the mood to eat deep-fried oatmeal cream pies or python meat at the fair, there are several restaurants across from the fairgrounds, including a Jack in the Box, a Starbucks, (a casual sit-down family restaurant), (casual), and s. There's also the newly opened shopping center with a , a and several other eateries. You can bring in food from home, and coolers are allowed (just no glass containers or alcohol). 

Weather: Expect hot weather — in the 80s or higher. While there are a few shady picnic areas, much of the fair is in the open sun. Wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. Sundresses, tank tops and shorts are recommended.

Side trips: Historic downtown Pleasanton is home to two museums, many fine dining and casual restaurants, a winery, independent clothing boutiques, a candy shop and gift shops. Main Street is about a 15-minute walk from the fairgrounds or a short drive, and parking is free. Click here to look up Main Street restaurants in our local business directory.

Need a doctor?  There is a  medical center right off the I-680 Stoneridge Drive exit, and , a full-service hospital, on Santa Rita Drive near I-580.

Still have questions? Ask it in the comments below or visit the fair’s FAQ page here.

Tanya Rose June 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Hey Katie and Susan - thanks for pointing out the mistake! Susan's right - they are at 7 p.m. daily (there's a link to the lineup in the story). Anyway, I just fixed the story!
jan June 20, 2012 at 06:35 PM
also, if im not mistaken, the rage burgers has closed down, in the safeway plaza you will find habit burgers and panda express...
Sara Shrapnell June 21, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Does the entry Fee get you into everything? Or do We need to take more cash ?
Joy ^^ June 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
@Sara - one admission charge gets you into everything, the fireworks, the concert @ 7pm (just think ... 1 1/2 hours of uninterrupted music!!), exhibits etc.
Rick June 21, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Sara, You need cash for rides, and food! :-)

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