Double Time with the Fair & Expo

By Steven Libowitz   |   April 30, 2024
The Santa Barbara Fair & Expo returns for a little “Double Thrill Double Fun” (courtesy photo)

For the first time in history the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo is expanding to two weekends, sparking the theme of “Double Thrill Double Fun” for the April 25-28 and May 3-5 springtime extravaganza. Ironically, it might have been the pandemic that provided the impetus for the growth, as the special July 2021 edition was one of the first public events after the lockdown, and enticed crowds from far beyond the city limits. 

“Ever since then, we’ve been drawing from the surrounding areas who got a taste of how fun the fair is,” said Ben Sprague, CEO of Earl Warren Showgrounds, the Fair’s host. “It’s a bit of a risk, but it’s great to have the bandwidth to host more people and spread things out.” 

What is staying the same is the Fair & Expo’s smart formula of offering family friendly fare in the centrally located site. The Carnival Midway that boasts more than 30 thrilling rides and games for all ages plus a separate Kiddie area with safer rides for the youngsters is always adding new attractions and keeping old favorites like the Zipper, Mega Flip, Turbo Speed, and Bumper Cars. This year there’ll also be two Ferris wheels, a smaller one for the kids, and the full-sized wheel on the midway that offers unparalleled views. 

“You can see the whole city and the mountains and even the ocean from the top, which is particularly cool,” Sprague said. 

Nearly non-stop entertainment emanates two stages, with an emphasis on local talent, plus perennially popular hypnotist James Kellogg and magician Frank Thurston. Farm animals in the interactive livestock area include goats, piglets and many more, while the exhibits in the Double Take Building focus on a variety of artwork, crafts, projects, demonstrations and much more. And be sure to pack the Maalox for the reflux-inducing smorgasbord of fair food full of sizzling sausage sandwiches, corn dogs and BBQ turkey legs as well as funnel cakes and other sweet treats. 

“We want everyone to come out and come back, because we’ve got seven full days of fun,” Sprague said. 



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