SACRAMENTO — Many new, novel, entertaining and educational attractions — most of which are free with fair admission — can be found at the 2012 California State Fair, which runs through July 29 at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento.
Wizard’s Challenge (air-conditioned tent in front of Bldg. A) — Explore the magic and wonder of science in a 9,600-square-foot, Medieval-themed, mostly interactive exhibit. Morph your face with someone else’s in the morphing mirror. Try to identify mysterious smells in common scents. Dare to walk through the dragon’s lair. Make beautiful music with the enchanted organ. Take on all-comers at the giant chess set. There are 20 activities in all. And don’t miss the Magic of Science stage show with three performances daily. Wizard’s Challenge is “Powered by SMUD.”
Sun-Maid — Celebrating 100 Years of Fruit and Sunshine (Expo Center, Bldg. 3) — The Kingsburg-based company celebrates 100 years of a thriving enterprise with an exhibit that fills an entire building. Don’t miss the two Norman Rockwell paintings and one chromo lithograph, an interactive display that tells the story of dried-fruit production in California and the history of the iconic Sun-Maid Girl. The Sun-Maid chef cooks up heritage recipes in the Sun-Maid Kitchen.
Girl Scouts Zone (Bldg. A-B) — Celebrating 100 years of scouting, Girl Scouts Heart of Central California worked with Randy Roberts, deputy director of the Crocker Art Museum, and museum consultant Rachel Tooker to create an interactive exhibit that shows how Girl Scouts discover, connect and take action to make the world a better place.
Toytopia 2.0 (Expo Center, Bldg. 5) — Sacramento’s Stage Nine Entertainment returns with an interactive exhibit for folks of all ages. Doodle on the world’s largest Etch-a-Sketch and pretend that you live in a giant dollhouse. Build something with Legos and other construction toys. Visit the stuffed animal Toytopia Zoo. Check out model planes, trains and automobiles, and play the day away at a retro game arcade. Also find the Toytopia store inside the exhibit.
Birds in Paradise (Floriculture) — Wander deep into the jungle where macaws, Amazon and cockatoos inhabit the “parrot tree.” Marvel at colorful peacocks, along with a charm of finches, a colony of canaries, and kookaburra, amazons, curassow and other “singers.” Experts are on hand to talk about the feathered flock. And look for exotic plants, many of which were propagated and nurtured in the State Fair’s Landscape Yard: vanilla orchid, sugar cane, cocoa, coffee, banana, papaya and pineapple.
Wet ‘n’ Wild (Bldg. B) — California Department of Water Resources and California Department of Fish and Game team up on a water and wildlife exhibit designed to educate the public about native animals and how water impacts their habitats. See raccoon, bobcat, bald eagle, rattlesnake and amphibians in enclosures similar to their native habitats. Watch educational and entertaining presentations with a beaver, turkey vulture, North American porcupine, desert tortoise and hawk at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. daily.
“The Flying Marbellos” and Friends (Expo Center, Bldg. 7) — Vallejo artist Victor Chaney creates wacky and hypnotic kinetic sculptures, including the circus-themed “The Flying Marbellos” and “H2-Opus,” a musical fountain. See six of his unique works.
Guinness World Record attempts — Nick Nicora/Ovations set a world record for the largest cocktail ever made — a 10,500-gallon Margarita called Calarita — on July 13. The second Guinness World Record attempt at the 2012 California State Fair begins at 5:30 a.m. July 23, when Roseville resident Christina Lochmiller boards the Eagle 16 in the Magical Midway to try to beat the current record of 25 hours for the longest continuous ride on a Ferris wheel.
My First Ride (Cavalcade of Horses arena) — Little cowboys and cowgirls can saddle up for their first pony ride. The program continues at noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m. on July 24, 27 and 28. At 3 p.m. daily, kids can participate in stick-horse games and pony painting.
On the Magical Midway — Butler Amusements amps up the fun with new attractions, including High Fly ’n’ Zip Line, White Water Log Flume, Mega Drop Tower and Circle of Champions. The Zillerator Coaster makes its return to the 2012 State Fair.
Gran Jaripeo con Ezequiel Pena y Mucho Mas — The action includes bull-riding, renowned Mexican entertainer Ezequiel Pena on horseback, a performance by Banda Muchos, a dance and much more. (4 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 29, Horse Show and Rodeo Arena).
In addition, California’s Grape and Gourmet returns to Cal Expo on Aug. 18. Tickets are on sale now at bigfun.org and calexpo.org.