Eastern Idaho State Fair kicks off on Aug. 31

FILE PHOTO  The 2012 Eastern Idaho State Fair drew a record 224,000 people, and fair officials are hoping for a similar turnout at this year’s event, which kicks off Aug. 31. The upcoming fair themed “It’s a Feeding Frenzy,” celebrates all of the tasty foods sold during the event.

FILE PHOTO
The 2012 Eastern Idaho State Fair drew a record 224,000 people, and fair officials are hoping for a similar turnout at this year’s event, which kicks off Aug. 31. The upcoming fair themed “It’s a Feeding Frenzy,” celebrates all of the tasty foods sold during the event.

BY KENDRA EVENSEN
kevensen@journalnet.com

BLACKFOOT — The Eastern Idaho State Fair has been a part of Idaho almost as long as the state has been a part of the Union. The fair dates back to 1902 — that’s just 12 years after Idaho became the country’s 43rd state — and the event is still going strong.

“Last year, we set (an attendance) record — the second we’ve set in five years — of 224,000,” said Brandon Bird, general manager of the Eastern Idaho State Fair.

And officials are hoping to break some more records during this year’s event.

The 111th annual Eastern Idaho State Fair will officially kick off on Aug. 31 and continue through Sept. 7. Admission costs $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $2 for kids between the ages of 6 and 11; children younger than that get in free. There are some discounts available for those who purchase tickets in advance; visit funatthefair.com or call 785-2480, Ext. 7, for more details.

This year’s theme, “It’s a Feeding Frenzy,” celebrates all of the tasty foods sold during the event.

“We’ve done surveys and 80 percent (of participants) say the thing they love most about the fair is the food,” Bird said, adding that the theme calls attention to that fact.

As part of the theme, Bird said they are planning daily food contests.

Some fairgoers will have a chance to eat their fill of tiger ears, crazy corn, rice bowls, turkey legs, funnel cakes and other popular fair foods.

And there are plenty of other activities to keep people entertained during the event. Bird said kids will enjoy various agriculture and science exhibits, as well as an interactive petting zoo in which fairgoers can milk a cow or watch chickens hatch. Those who attend the event this year will also get a chance to see some baboons, which performed in the film “Evan Almighty,” in the Wild About Monkeys exhibit.

Fairgoers also won’t want to miss the Axe Women Loggers of Maine — a group that includes world champion choppers and axe throwers, Bird said.

“It’s a very good attraction,” he said, adding that the group has drawn a lot of positive attention at other fairs.

There will also be a clown, magician, hypnotist, comedian, singers, musicians, demonstrations, competitions, and even a robot that will be strolling around the fair each day, according to the EISF website.

The event will also include the popular Butler Amusements carnival, numerous 4-H events and pari-mutuel and Indian relay races. And Bird said they are expecting to sellout of tickets for most of their grandstand events: Bull Riding Championships, RMPA Tractor Pull, Gem State Classic Pro Rodeo, Monster FreestyleMX, Demolition Derby and country music concerts featuring Chris Young and Morgan Frazier, and Trace Adkins and Due West.

“Ticket sales are going very well,” Bird said, adding that people can purchase tickets on the EISF’s official website or Facebook page — online options that 75 percent of those buying tickets have taken advantage of this year.

Bird said those who attend the Eastern Idaho State Fair are often surprised when they get there.

“We get a lot of people who come here for the first time and they are shocked that the little community of Blackfoot offers such a huge fair, great food and entertainment,” Bird said.

He attributes the fair’s success to all of the people who get involved with the event.

“We put more into this great fair than we probably should. There is more free entertainment, more grandstand entertainment, more competitions and more community vendors, and because of that, there is a special feel at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. It’s full of life and action,” Bird said.

“(And it’s the) great people who make a big difference year after year.”

Here are a few of the events that will be taking place at the Eastern Idaho State Fair this year:

Aug. 31
It’s A Feeding Frenzy Parade, 10-11:30 a.m.
Lil’ Cowpoke Rodeo, 3 p.m.
Crazy corn food contest, noon and 6 p.m.
Idaho State Arm Wrestling Championships, 2-8:30 p.m.
Bull Riding Championships, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 1
Pari-mutuel races, noon
Indian Relay National Championships, noon
Rice bowls food contest, 6 p.m.
RMPA Tractor Pull, 7 p.m.

Sept. 2
Kids pie eating contest, noon
Pari-mutuel races, noon
Indian Relay National Championships, noon
Funeral potatoes food contest, 5 p.m.
Tiger ears food contest, 6 p.m.
Gem State Classic Pro Rodeo, 8 p.m.

Sept. 3
Banana split food contest at 6 p.m.
Gem State Classic Pro Rodeo, 8 p.m.

Sept. 4
Outlaw burger food contest, 6 p.m.
Monster FreestyleMX, 8 p.m.

Sept. 5
Indian Relay National Championships, noon
Tortatoes food contest, 6 p.m.
Chris Young with Morgan Frazier, 8 p.m.

Sept. 6
Pari-mutuel races, noon
Indian Relay National Championships, noon
Funnel cake food contest, 6 p.m.
Trace Adkins with Due West, 8 p.m.

Sept. 7
Pari-mutuel races, noon
Indian Relay National Championships, noon
Turkey legs food contest, 6 p.m.
Demolition Derby, 7:30 p.m.

There will also be many 4-H events and other attractions, including the Axe Women Loggers of Maine, that will be taking place daily. For a complete schedule, visit funatthefair.com.