Colorado State Fair opens in Pueblo with a lineup of big-name performers and plenty of furry and feathered farm animals

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
People going in and out of the Colorado State Fair using the new Prairie Avenue entry gate on the west side of the grounds. It’s the part of the first phase of upgrades called for in a 20-year $180 million master plan. (August 27, 2022)

Livestock shows, carnival rides and wacky fried foods are typical reasons people go to the Colorado State Fair, which opens Friday in Pueblo and runs through Labor Day. 

But according to Colorado State Fair general manager Scott Stoller, as of earlier in the week, concert ticket sales were up 40 to 50 percent ahead of last year and some shows are sold out. The big-name lineup includes country music’s Lady A, rapper Lil Jon and classic rocker Pat Benatar among others.

“Concert sales are going off the charts this year,” he said. “If the trend stays, we're going to have a phenomenal fair this year.”

Discounted general admission ticket presales outpaced last year’s numbers too, Stoller said.

The fair began more than 150 years ago as a livestock exhibition. Supporting agriculture, especially for youth, is still a primary part of the fair’s mission, according to Stoller. He said as long as the weather cooperates, he expects around half a million people to come to the 11-day event this year.

“At the end of the day, attendance is just a number,” he said. “We are a mission-based organization and focusing on that is our priority. But we also do need to pay the bills. So we do like a lot of people to turn out and support our mission.”

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
David Vetter of Bennett shows off the Grand Champion Market Lamb flanked by his family and supporters at the 2022 Colorado State Fair in Pueblo on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022

Along with rodeos, parades, statewide marching band performances and art shows, the fair includes all kinds of other attractions from a giant sand sculpture to stunt dog, trapeze and lumberjack exhibitions. There’s also the World Slopper Eating Championship, demolition derby and the annual Fiesta Day celebration on Labor Day weekend.

Fairgoers will also see new improvements on the west side of the grounds between the historic Palace of Agriculture building and the Prairie Avenue entrance. The area was redone last year, as part of a master plan to renovate the entire fairgrounds. 

Stoller said it fixed some blighted and potentially unsafe areas. “There (were) places where you probably could lose a shoe if you stepped in the wrong spot,” he said.

Now he describes it as “a gorgeous, thoughtfully designed space” that combines paved areas with grass and trees to create “a definition of space and a lot of places to mingle and enjoy the fair.”

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
Number two-ranked competitive eater, Geoff Esper again takes the World Slopper Eating Championship at the 2022 Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. Next to him is Miki Sudo, the number one-ranked female eater. (Aug 27, 2022)

Editor's note: The Colorado State Fair is a financial supporter of KRCC, but has no editorial influence.

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