Savoring summer with a classic— The 164th Great Allentown Fair
It won’t be long before the weather turns colder and summer fun is just a warm memory. The Great Allentown Fair, a Lehigh Valley classic for 164 years, will soon welcome thousands of visitors looking to savor the season with big name outdoor concerts, rides, games, novelty attractions, food and most importantly, a splendorous showcase of the best from farm, garden and home.
Starting Tuesday, August 30 and ending on Labor Day Monday, September 5, this fair is ranked as one of the Top 50 in the nation.
Is there anything more American than winning a blue ribbon at the fair? The Great Allentown Fair is a joyous celebration of the harvest, and for farmers and gardeners, this means raising their crops to peak perfection for judging.
For other competitors, it’s taking a striking photo, building a Lego sculpture, dusting off a treasured antique, sewing a fabulous garment, creating a culinary masterpiece and so many more categories for entry.
Seeing over 9,000 items judged and on display inside Agri~Plex is alone worth a trip to the fair. Beyond the showcases in this enormous exhibition building, there are countless demonstrations and interactive contests that have foodies and arts and crafts lovers flocking to its doors.
The fair’s renowned Farm to Table series of chef demonstrations and culinary tips features more kitchen masters than ever before sharing their secrets and even giving audience members sample tastes. Demonstrations go on every day of the fair.
A fairgoer favorite, the Iron Chef Competition this year expands into a two-day event with preliminary battles leading up to the final match-up where a new contender competes against last year’s champ. Each round has chefs creating dishes from a supply of ingredients unknown to them before the competition begins.
Battle one on Friday, September 2 pits Executive Chef and Co-owner Cale Beck of Kingfish against Executive Chef Abe Lopez of Stoke Coal Fire Pizza & Bar. Battle two the same day features Owner Paolo Grisafi of VIVO Italian Kitchen against Executive Chef Cristian Gonzalez of The Hamilton Kitchen.
On Saturday, September 3 the winners of Friday’s two contests will face off to determine who is in the Final Battle against last year’s winner, Chef and Owner Jason Hook of H2O Kitchen.
Labor Day Monday, September 5 has a new type of demonstration with Chad Butters of Eight Oaks Craft Distillers explaining the distillery’s commitment to its “seed to glass” experience. The distillery operators grow their own grains and source other ingredients from Lehigh Valley farms.
And speaking of food, Fair President Beverly Gruber has once again challenged fair concessionaires to come up with a new treat at their stands. Location-map ballots are available inside Agri~Plex and at InFAIRmation for fairgoers to pick up and guide them to the new foods and then cast their votes for the best!
The annual Lehigh County 4-H livestock sale at the judging tent on Saturday is the year’s culmination project for local youth in the club, and reminds fairgoers of the true and honored mission of the fair to encourage agricultural excellence.
Kids visiting the fair that are growing up in cities and suburbs get to experience farm life playing at the ‘Lil Farm Hand Tent, visiting the 4-H petting zoo, decorating pumpkins at the Centennial Stage, participating in the pedal push tractor pull and other fun activities throughout the week.
Powers Great American Midways has exciting new rides and games. While gleaming lights lure fairgoers to the midway’s amazing rides, games and scrumptious food, special free-with-admission attractions entertain fairgoers each day.
New this year, The Marvelous Mutts features the clever canines racing through an obstacle course, leaping into a pool of water to grab toys and snatching discs out of the air.
And while the livestock in the barns are collecting blue ribbons, Robinson’s Pig Paddling Porkers race around a track and do laps in pool for Oreo cookie rewards!
Two new shows inside Agri~Plex Square will keep audiences mesmerized and tapping their feet. Scott’s Future of Magic keeps the whole family awed and laughing with his illusions and comedy magic. New Odyssey – 3 Guys, 30 Instruments are just that—amazing musicians performing all genres on 30 instruments.
Agri~Plex Square is the “front yard” of the fair’s major exhibition building and its Harvest Patio provides an oasis of shade, seating and a selection of craft-style beers.
Fresh off the excitement of the Summer Games, the Olympic Glory High Divers will recreate the atmosphere with an extraordinary springboard and tower diving exhibition several times a day.
The fair’s famous Grandstand “Home of the Stars” venue continues its tradition of nightly concerts offering the top names in entertainment and a bang up ending to the fair with a zany demolition derby on Labor Day.
The fair runs Tuesday, August 30 through Labor Day Monday, September 5. Hours are 4-11 p.m. on Tuesday, 12-11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and 12-10 p.m. on Monday.
Back after rave reviews last year, Dollapalooza Preview Night Tuesday August 30 offers $1 specials on rides, games and food.
All gate admission benefits the mission of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society, the nonprofit operator of the fair founded in 1852, to support agriculture. Preview Night Tuesday, August 30 offers a special way to also contribute to the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley.
While regular Preview Night admission is $3, a special “Buck and a Can” promotion lets fairgoers get in by paying $1 at the gate and contributing a food item donation.
“FAIR DEALS” abound especially for “early birds under the wire” that attend Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, August 31, September 1 and 2 when admission from 12-2 p.m. is free for everyone.
On Wednesday, August 31, seniors with ID pay $4 at the gate after 2 p.m. on American Bank Senior Citizens Day.
Starting on Wednesday, regular gate admission is $8 with ages 12 and under always free. Purchasing $4 advance admission tickets at the fair box office and online saves 50 percent with no fees added. The advance discount ticket is good whenever admission is charged.
Value-minded families may obtain all day ride wristbands at $15 by purchasing them in advance. The wristbands sell for $22 at the fair. Individual ride tickets are also available at the fair.
Discount tickets for fair admission and ride wristbands are also available at participating Walgreens thru August 29.
Grandstand show tickets for the concerts range from $18-$83. The demolition derby is $15 and $11 for kids 12 and under. Grandstand tickets include fair admission when purchased in advance of the show date.
Tickets are still available for musical artists The KIDZ BOP Kids “Life of the Party Tour,” Jake Owen with Brandon Lay, KISS with The Dead Daisies, Chris Stapleton with Brothers Osborne, Meghan Trainor with Hailee Steinfeld and Common Kings and comedian Jeff Dunham.
For ways to purchase tickets, show schedules and more information on The Great Allentown Fair, log on to AllentownFairPA.org.