The California Mid-State Fair opened in 1946 at the Paso Robles Event Center, and has been held in Paso Robles every summer since.
The fair is always a highlight of the summer for locals and visitors from around California who have come to expect to see some of the biggest names in music, eat some of the best fair food, and have a great time on the carnival rides.
Your experience at the Mid-State Fair will vary greatly depending on if you go during the day or at night.
The fair during the day is really laid back, there are hardly any lines for rides or food (or the bathroom!), and we easily found places to sit and relax.
At night the fair gets a lot more crowded mostly because of the concerts happening, but it’s also a much cooler part of the day to be out in northern SLO County, and the rides are so much more fun at night!
Due to COVID-19, the California Mid-State Fair was cancelled in 2020; however, it is returning bigger and better than ever in 2021!
This year the fair is being held from July 21 – August 1, 2021. We’re definitely planning to return for more fun days in the sun (and to see the lights at night!), but in the meantime learn more about our experience from the last time we were able to attend in 2019, and add the 2021 dates to your calendar so you don’t miss the chance to go to this year’s Mid State Fair!
Music is always one of the biggest attractions for the California Mid-State Fair because they always manage to get some of the best and biggest names in the industry to play a show during the two-week event. In 2019 they secured artists like Blake Shelton, Cardi B, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Melissa Ethridge, Miranda Lambert, and more!
The main or “ticketed” shows are held in the Chumash Grandstand Arena, and seats approximately 14,600 (but each show will have their own configuration). Tickets still sell quickly, with artists like Garth Brooks shows selling out in seconds in 2018!
There are also daily free shows that take place on the Frontier Stage. These shows are first-come-first-serve, and this year saw acts like Smash Mouth, Kenny Taylor, and Bear Market Riot perform.
Throughout the fair you can also find smaller stages that feature local bands, usually near beer gardens or larger seating areas. These stages don’t always have an artist playing, but you can typically find music there at some point during the day.
Food & Drink
Fair food is just the best, and it does not disappoint at the California Mid-State Fair. In 2019 there were 85 different vendors selling a wide variety of food and drink from corn dogs and pizza to tri-tip, tacos, fried oreos, and funnel cake.
The majority of food vendors are lined up on the north half of the fairgrounds leading up to the animal barns and stables. Here you will find the stands selling food directly, with some also selling drinks.
Throughout the fair you can find beer and wine gardens hosted by local breweries and wineries, and can often find food to go with your drink at the same place.
The biggest addition to the fair in 2019 was the Ice Bar, a bar and seating that were literally made of ice!
With the hot summer days of Paso Robles this was a welcome addition, and the perfect way to enjoy a drink before heading back into the sun.
In 2019 the California Mid-State Fair had 32 rides for those who dared to ride them! From thrillers like Zipper, Super Shot, and High Voltage to classics like Happy Swings and The Big Wheel there really was something for everyone.
Separate tickets are required to ride any of the fair rides, and can be purchased at the fairgrounds the day of your visit. Unlimited ride wristbands are also available, and can be purchased the day of your visit or in advance from retailers selling advanced tickets.
Tips for the 2021 California Mid-State Fair
The fair will be held July 21 – August 1, 2021.
Advanced tickets are available for purchase at several retailers throughout SLO County leading up to the fair. This is the best value for your tickets, and we highly recommend buying them in advance. You won’t save a ton on the general admission, but you’ll make it up in what you save for the unlimited ride wristbands.
Tickets for concerts at the fair are purchased separately from general admission, and sold through the Mid-State Fair website at a much earlier date than general admission tickets.
Parking is available at the California Mid-State Fair, but it is very limited and expense. In 2019 parking cost $20 per vehicle, and you could not park an RV. Most of the restaurants and residents within walking distance will also offer some type of parking, which you can see as you drive the approximate mile radius around the fairgrounds.
What to Wear
The days are really hot, but the nights get cool so be prepared for both if you plan to go all day. This year we were able to keep light jackets in our bags, which we definitely needed once night fell. During the day our hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen were a must – we would have fried out there otherwise!
Parking at the fair is cash only, so right off the bat you need to have cash handy. Some vendors take cards but a lot do not, so having cash on hand will be important to have a good time at the fair. There are ATMs on site if you need to get more, but definitely plan on bringing enough for parking at a minimum before you get here.
Don’t Bring Anything Else!
You can definitely bring the basics into the fair, like your phone, wallet, and sunglasses, but don’t expect to bring much else unless it’s totally necessary (like a baby stroller, wheelchair, walker, or service animal). No outside food or drink is allowed, nor are any weapons or drugs, and professional cameras are also not allowed unless you are registered as media. Expect to be searched before you enter the fair, and be ready to say goodbye to that sando if you try to sneak it in!
Contact & Social Media
Paso Robles Event Center
2198 Riverside Avenue
Paso Robles, CA 93446
P.O. Box 8
Paso Robles, CA 93447
(805) 269 – 0655