Summer fun, Idaho style
Fair offers five family-pleasing days of music, motocross, rodeo and rides
Call it quaint or down-to-earth, if you like.
The North Idaho Fair & Rodeo may not sizzle with celebrity entertainers and souped-up tractor pulls. But it’s got pluck and is grounded in tradition.
And for five days in August, it’s where folks in the Panhandle choose to ramble about on warm summer evenings, casting their diets aside and embracing denial of the approaching school year.
So if you go (and you know you want to), here’s what you need to know:
• When: Wednesday through Aug. 25. Gates open daily at 9 a.m., and the carnival rides shut down by midnight.
• Where: Kootenai County Fairgrounds, 4056 N. Government Way, Coeur d’Alene
• Admission: $9 for adults, $7 for ages 6-13 and 60 and older, free for 5 and younger. Parking costs $3.
• Advance tickets: Go to www.northidahofair.com/fair-rodeo and click on “Buy tickets” or call (877) 840-0457. Jifi Stop stores in Kootenai County also sell tickets before the fair opens.
• Shameless plug: Thursday is “fan day” sponsored by The Spokesman-Review. Facebook fans of the North Idaho Fair & Rodeo can print a coupon for $2 off any gate admission.
• What’s new? Big cats and other visitors from A Walk on the Wild Side, an exotic animal refuge in Canby, Ore., will be on hand. Paradise Amusements, a carnival based in Post Falls, joins the fair this year.
• Country act: Charley Jenkins of Salt Lake City was a top 12 finalist on NBC’s “Nashville Star” and has opened for such acts as Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Alan Jackson. He has released three albums. He’s performing on the main stage Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m., plus on the clubhouse stage for the after-rodeo parties Aug. 23 at 9 p.m. and Aug. 24 at 8:30 p.m.
• Party band: Spokane-based Shiner plays rock, pop, dance, disco, R&B and country hits from the past 40 years. On the main stage Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 24 at 6:30 p.m., plus the motocross after-party act Wednesday and Thursday at 9 p.m.
• Other acts: Michael Swenson comedy hypnosis show (foundation park community stage, twice daily); Adam the Great magic show (family fun park stage, daily); blues guitarist Pat Coast (beer garden stage, daily except Sunday); offbeat musician John Dunnigan (various stages, four times daily).
• Motocross: Off-road motorcycle racing in the main arena, Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. (qualifying heats at 4:30 p.m.). Bleacher seating is free.
• Draft horses: Show Aug. 23 at noon, pull Aug. 24 at 2 p.m., main arena. Reminiscent of the days when horses pulled wagons and moved equipment. Bleacher seating is free.
• Rodeo: Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo in the main arena, Aug. 23 and 24 at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 25 at 12:30 p.m. Trick riders, bullfighters, bronc riders and more. Bleacher seating is free.
• Demolition derby: Aug. 25, 6 p.m., main arena. Buy an old American-made hard top car, gut it, chain the doors shut, put on a helmet and ram it into others. Ends when one car is left running. Bleacher seating is free.
• Most competitive exhibits: Quilts are hot this year, and there will be tables and tables of them on display. Artwork is another popular subject for entries.
• Critters big and small: The standards (sheep, chickens, rabbits, draft horses, pigs), as well as a barnyard petting zoo in the family fun park, and racing pigs and ducks take to the track four times daily on the south midway.
• Grandpa will think this is cool: Vintage agricultural equipment including antique tractors, drawn implements and farm trucks will be displayed on the north midway between the red and blue gates, near the chain saw carvings.
• Fair fare: Pick from 30 food vendors. Grub choices range from beer ball sausages to frog legs, and white cheddar popcorn to chocolate-dipped cheesecake.
• Where’s the beer? Three beer gardens will help you quench your thirst: by the clubhouse, on the south midway and by the blue gate.