The welcome sight of Ferris wheels, carnival games and funnel cakes will soon return as the Kings Fair kicks off after a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fair is scheduled to run June 9-12, and organizers expect record-breaking attendance because of the break.
“We’re just excited to have everybody back and have everybody here,” Kings Fair CEO Jerome Coelho said. “We just want people to enjoy the first week of summer with us, knowing it’s our first year since 2019.”
Under the best of circumstances it takes at least six months to fully plan the Fair, Coelho said, and organizers were still unsure of how to proceed with the 2022 Fair as late as autumn of 2021. Organizers were left walking a line of needing to prepare while also staying cautious because of new COVID spikes and shutdowns.
They wanted to plan ahead, but also didn’t want to commit too fully, lest the “plug be pulled” on them.
Because of this and other factors like inflation and supply chain issues, Coelho said that planning this year’s Fair felt like “starting from scratch.” Despite that, fairgoers won’t see much difference from previous years, he said.
“Things will mostly be the same. The layout may change a little. The midway will be more spaced out to make it less crowded,” he said.
Coelho said that while he’s not positive, he believes that the only other time the Fair has skipped a year was during World War II.
In the early days of the COVID pandemic, it was not a guarantee the Fair would come back at all, he said. After weathering the storm, Coelho said that’s he’s glad the uncertainty surrounding the Fair is — or at least seems to be — over.
“More than just the Fair itself, we were even more concerned about the community,” he said. “When communities lose that connection to their fairgrounds, they lose a little bit of sparkle. The Fair is the only event in the community where everybody comes together for a weekend.”
Beloved attractions like the Friday night Speedway races, midway carnival and fair foods are sure to bring in crowds, he said. And the livestock auctions are “thriving,” allowing local 4-H and Future Farmers of America groups to show and auction off animals for the first time since 2019.
There won’t be a headlining marquee name at the Fair this year, though Coelho said that plans are in place to renovate the Fair’s outdoor stadium theater to better facilitate bigger names in the future.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be quality entertainment this year, however, as fan favorites and soon-to-be fan favorites will be taking various stages around the Fair. The acts include hypnotist Chris Mabrey and Jlive’s Next Big Thing Talent Show, both of which are scheduled nightly. Sunday night will feature Amor Prohibido: A Tribute to Selena and Saturday will feature a concert by Outlaw Mariachi.
“They play rock n’ roll, pop, Hispanic, country — they play everything, but it’s a full mariachi band,” Coelho said. “They play a great show if you want to hear something different. It’s incredible.”
This year’s Fair is taking place a few weeks later than previous Fairs. Coelho said the Fair will probably stick to early June in future years to avoid conflicting with other community events like graduations.
“It will still be a springtime event. The weather will be nice. Until you consistently hit 105 degrees in the Valley, it’s still spring,” he said with a laugh.
The Fair will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight June 9-10 and 3 p.m. to midnight June 11-12. The Kings Fair is located at 801 S. 10th Ave., Hanford.