There’s only one place in town this weekend where you can ride the Ferris wheel, get eye-to-eye with a shark, cheer on a monster truck, watch a little belly dancing, and gnaw on a giant turkey leg.
The Maricopa County Fair features all that and more, from traveling Bengal tiger and monkey shows to a juggler who handles knives while his hands are on fire and a man who climbs inside a balloon.
Of course, the fair’s underlying theme is agriculture, and in a nod to those roots, you’ll find exhibits full of cute farm animals and old-fashioned foodstuffs like jams, jellies and pies.
You’ll also come across displays from a diverse bunch of crafters, artists and hobbyists, among them the Superstition Spacemodeling Society, Arizona Model Railroading Society, and 17-year-old Garrett Laubinger of Mesa — an accomplished fly fisherman.
Meanwhile, stages will host live bands and other acts, while ride, game and food booths supply plenty of diversion between motorcycle shows and visits with kids’ TV characters Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants. Try the cotton candy “caliente” for a sweet and spicy update to an old fair favorite.
Admission is free for everyone until 3 p.m. Friday, just in case you can beg off work or school a little early.
DETAILS >> 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Arizona Exposition & State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix. $9 per person, free for kids younger than 8. $7 to park. (602) 252-0717 or www.maricopacountyfair.org.