The Great Allentown Fair, a Lehigh Valley classic, will soon welcome thousands of visitors to experience outdoor concerts, rides, games, novelty attractions, food and, most importantly, a splendorous showcase of products from the region’s farms, gardens and homes.
One of the nation’s Top 50 fairs, Allentown’s tradition kicks off Aug. 31 and runs through Sept. 5 — the unofficial end of summer Labor Day holiday. Fair organizers are touting this year’s 170-anniversary event as “The Great Allentown Fair Lights it Up!”
The Fair’s Guide and Map posted online and handed out at all fair entrances designates venues and activities that wrap around the fair’s centerpiece, its historic “Home of the Stars” Grandstand venue offering three national artists concerts plus the annual Labor Day tradition, the J & J Demolition Derby.
Tickets are still available for The Dropkick Murphys with special guest The Bouncing Souls, Cole Swindell with special guest Chase Rice, The Wonder Years with special guests The Starting Line and Charly Bliss, and the J & J Demolition Derby.
Tickets for the shows range from $49-$84. The J & J Demolition Derby is $15 and $10 for kids 12 and under. Grandstand show tickets include fair admission when purchased in advance of the show date.
Experiencing the Fair
Following the Fair’s Guide and Map, there’s a guided stroll from the grounds’ northwest corner and winding up in its southeast corner to preview what will become fairgoers’ favorite picks of the 2022 Fair.
Right inside Fair Gate 6, the Astound Broadband Farmerama Theater is a grassy park-like variety show site that features free-with-admission entertainment including two weeklong resident attractions that both competed on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” The Puppy Pals Comedic Stunt Dog Show is returning for a second year. Watch the pooches of Puppy Pals perform spectacular stunts and breathtaking feats that you wish your family pet could do at home. Another weeklong attraction feature is Squawk! The Amazing Bird Show. These colorful feathered professionals show off their unusual talents in a fun and interactive show. Some new programming in 2022 include trivia nights with KJ Lehigh on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evenings along with the first annual Bird Calling Competition on Friday evening.
The 2022 Fair Queen Contest and Coronation, sponsored by Signal, will be held at Astound Broadband Farmerama Theater on Opening Night, Aug. 31. Five contestants will vie for the title of Great Allentown Fair Queen and the $1,500 scholarship presented by the Pomona Grange and the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market. allentownfairpa.org.
Ag-venturing on the West End
A few paces from the Astound Broadband Farmerama Theater, Robinson’s Pig Paddling Porkers are making another splash at the fair. The fair-famous “oinkers” are back to race around the turf track and dive into their Pig-lympic sized pool. These talented pigs will be performing at Machinery Avenue Court throughout fairweek. www.allentownfair.com/index.php/fair-entertainment/free-entertainment (scroll to Machinery Avenue Court)
Agri~Land shelters more than 650 farm animals including cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and more. The competition is fierce for best of show at the judging tent, the headquarters for livestock judging as well as farm fun events such as Barnyard Olympics sponsored by St. Luke’s University Health Network, Mardi Gras and Hay Bale Throwing contests.
The tent is home to the annual Lehigh County 4-H livestock sale on Saturday of the fair, the year’s culmination project for local youth in the club, and reminds fairgoers of the true and time-honored mission of the fair to encourage agricultural excellence.
City and suburban kids visiting the fair get to experience farm life playing at the Lil’ Farm Hands activity tent presented by Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, visiting the 4-H Barnyard Zoo, decorating pumpkins at the Centennial Stage, participating in the Pedal Push Tractor Pull and other fun activities throughout the week.
Adults may stop by Harvest Patio to relax with a brew while enjoying a perfect vantage to see The One Wheel Wonder, musical performances and some incredible magic from Magic on the Farm. Amazing magic, mayhem, live animals, comedy and audience participation makes Magic on the Farm a show your whole family will love. The One Wheel Wonder takes unicycling to the ultimate extreme and will be rolling around Agri~Plex Square, sponsored by Service Electric and PenTeleData.
As fairgoers continue down First Avenue they’ll come across the Heart of the Fair — Agri~Plex. This spacious air- conditioned building hosts the best of what is grown, sewn, cooked, created and collected. With many demonstrations, competitions and exhibits, there is never a dull moment.
The Great Allentown Fair is a joyous celebration of the harvest, and for farmers and gardeners, this means raising their crops to peak perfection for judging. For other competitors, it’s taking a striking photo, building a Lego sculpture, dusting off a treasured antique, sewing a fabulous garment, creating a culinary masterpiece and so many more categories for entry.
Seeing more than 5,000 items judged and on display inside Agri~Plex is alone worth a trip to the fair. Beyond the showcases in this enormous exhibition building, countless demonstrations and interactive contests have foodies and art enthusiasts flocking to its doors.
The Centennial Stage hosts a variety of contests for children, including Play-Doh Sculpting, pumpkin decorating and a coloring contest. Parents can join their kids onstage for the Mother/Daughter-Father/Son Look-A-Like Contest. Register on site.
The fair’s renowned Farm to Table series of chef demonstrations and culinary tips features more kitchen masters than ever before sharing their secrets. Demonstrations go on every day of the fair.
Local chefs go head-to-head when competing in the Iron Chef Competition, sponsored by Lehigh Valley Health Network, The Morning Call, Aetna Medicare Solutions, The Restaurant Store and UGI. The Iron Chef Competition is an intense three-day event that is known to be a fairgoer-favorite.
Battle one on Sept. 2 features Sous Chef Courtney Davenport of The Shelby versus Executive Chef John Abela of Molinari’s. Battle two features Chef Jonathan Engleman of Buckeye Tavern versus Chef Zach Moerder of Limeport Inn. Battle three features Executive Head Chef Jeffrey Wagaman of The Brick Tavern Inn versus Sous Chef Hailey Curcio of The Shelby. Battle four features Executive Chef Harrison Lemus of La Cocina Del Abuelo – Grandpa’s Kitchen versus Food Service Director Esteban Morales of Riverton Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center
On Sept. 3, the winners of Friday’s contests will face off. On Sept. 4, the final battles take place. The Iron Chef semifinal takes place followed by the Iron Chef Final Showdown where the winner of the three rounds will compete against the 2021 winner, Executive Chef Kayla Badway of oKaysions Katering.
Wandering the East End
The world famous “Flying Wallenda” family, sponsored by Signal, will have you at the edge of your seat with their death- defying high wire circus-themed show.
The MainGate will be jamming, rocking and rolling with a variety of extremely talented musicians. Music at the MainGate features Boondock Barons, The Cherrybombs, Scott Marshall Band, The Joes, DJ Menace and a Latin day featuring Grup De’ Ahora.
Exploring the Midway
Prehistoric Dinosaur Adventures brings Jurassic World to life. This entertainment experience features a prehistoric museum, a dino dig pit, and even close encounters with a T-Rex.
Powers Great American Midways has exciting new rides and games. Gleaming lights lure thrill-seeking fairgoers of all ages to the midway’s amazing rides. Families can go head-to-head competing for fun prizes when playing games on the midway.
Food! Food! Food!
Fair food is the best food. Fairgoers find it hard to resist the mouth-watering smells and dazzling food from vendors across the fair. Funnel cake, cheesesteaks, apple dumplings, waffles and ice cream, and fried veggies are only a few of the numerous fair foods that surround the fair.
And speaking of food, Fair President Daryl G. Urmy has once again challenged fair concessionaires to come up with a new treat at their stands, and it’s up to fairgoers to decide which new treat is the best. Location-map ballots are available inside Agri~Plex and at InFAIRmation booths to guide fairgoers to the new foods and then cast their votes for the best.
The fair runs Aug. 31 through Labor Day. Hours are 4-10 p.m. on Wednesday, 12-10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and 12-9 p.m. on Monday.
Regular Opening Night admission is $4, a special “$2 Bucks and a Can” promotion lets fairgoers get in by paying $2 at the gate and contributing a food item donation benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley.
For “Weekdays Under the Wire, all fairgoers that attend Thursday and Friday get free admission into the fair between noon and 2 p.m.
On Sept. 1, all active military and veterans with ID get in free all day on Red, White & Thank You Military Appreciation Day.
On Labor Day, seniors with ID get in free all day for American Bank Senior Citizens Day.
Starting on Thursday, regular gate admission is $8 while ages 12 and under are always free. Purchasing $4 advance admission tickets at the Fair Box Office and online saves 50% with no fees added. The advance discount ticket is good whenever admission is charged and on sale through Aug. 31.
Fairgoers may obtain all-day ride wristbands at $20 by purchasing them in advance through Aug. 30. The wristbands sell for $25 on-site at the fair. Individual ride tickets are also available at the fair.
Powers Great American Midways rides open at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 2 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday.
All gate admission benefits the mission of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society, the nonprofit operator of the fair founded in 1852, to support agriculture.
For ways to purchase tickets, show schedules and more information on The Great Allentown Fair, visit AllentownFair.com.
Allentown Fairgrounds gates close in prep for Fair; Liberty Street Box Office opens
Since Aug. 24, the gates to the Allentown Fairgrounds have been closed to traffic between Liberty and Chew streets, the north and south borders of the grounds, in preparation for the fair.
Patrons of the Ritz Barbecue are asked to go to Gate 2 on Chew Street just west of 17th Street to dine at the Ritz Barbecue. The landmark restaurant will offer parking through Sunday. Monday, patrons may walk in Gate 2 but cannot park on the fairgrounds.
For the convenience of ticket buyers, a temporary box office with easy access will be located in the parking lot of the Fairgrounds Hotel located on the corner of 17th and Liberty streets.
Tickets to the fair’s Grandstand shows, advance discount tickets for all day ride wristbands and half-price fair admission tickets will be available at the Liberty Street Box Office. Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted. Box Office hours are noon-4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday this week. Extended hours begin on Saturday and Sunday 12-3 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, 12-6 p.m.
On opening night Aug. 31 prior to the Allentown Fair gates opening at 4 p.m., the Liberty Street box office hours will be noon-4 p.m. Thereafter, the main box office, located on the fairgrounds between the Ritz Barbecue and the Grandstand concert venue, resumes operation throughout fair week from noon -9 p.m. Labor Day Monday hours are noon– 6 p.m.
Show, ride and admission tickets are available online anytime at Ticketmaster.com. Discount ride tickets are available through Aug. 30; discount fair admission tickets are available through Aug. 31.