The Great Allentown Fair, a Lehigh Valley tradition, 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 75 fairs, Allentown’s tradition kicks off Aug. 30 and runs through Sept. 4 — the unofficial end of summer Labor Day holiday. Fair organizers are touting this year’s event as “Home Grown Fun!”
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. This venue offers five national artists concerts and the annual Labor Day tradition, the J & J Demolition Derby.
Tickets are available for Styx / REO Speedwagon, Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line with special guest Matt Stell, Nelly with special guest Chingy, Yung Gravy with special guest bbno$, Keith Urban with special guest Carter Faith, and the J & J Demolition Derby.
Tickets for the shows range from $44-$129. The J & J Demolition Derby is $20 and $15 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, here’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 2023 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. Watch the BMX athletes of the DialedAction Stunt Show soar over 10 feet in the air while doing tricks and flips on a bike; and Scott Wagstaff Puppetry & Ventriloquism will delight kids of all ages. Additional programming in 2023 includes the second annual Bid Calling Competition on Friday evening and the Senior Citizen celebration, featuring Robbie Lawrence and the Steel Workers, on Labor Day.
The 2023 Fair Queen Contest and Coronation, sponsored by Signal, will be held at Astound Broadband Farmerama Theater on opening night Aug. 30. 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.
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 fair week.
http://www.allentownfair.com/index.php/fair-entertainment/free-entertainment (scroll to Machinery Avenue Court)
Agri~Land shelters over 650 farm animals including cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and more. The competition is fierce for Supreme Champion at the judging tent, sponsored by St Luke’s University Health Network, the headquarters for livestock judging as well as farm fun events such as Barnyard Olympics, 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, it 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 while playing at the Lil’ Farm Hands activity tent presented by Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital and media partner PBS-39, 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. New this year — Lehigh County Farm Bureau is sponsoring Ag Immersion Lab, a hands-on virtual farming experience.
Adults may stop by Harvest Patio to relax with a brew while enjoying a perfect vantage to see Agri~Plex Square’s two shows. Amazing magic, mayhem, live animals, comedy and audience participation makes Magic on the Farm a show your whole family will love. See the acrobats from Flippenout soar over 25 feet, do amazing flips and twists, and even bring out their snowboards and skis, all on a trampoline.
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. New categories in the competitive exhibits department include wool, a people’s choice award in photography, and a commercial brewery category.
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 over 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 daily lifestyle demonstrations and at 5 p.m. there are interactive 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 sharing their secrets than ever before. 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 , Aug. 31, features Executive Chef Jeffrey Wagaman of Brick Tavern Inn versus Executive Chef Anthony Distefano of Bear Creek Mountain Resort. Battle two features Executive Chef Stacy Calles of Kalahari Resort versus Chef/Owner John Abela of Composed Catering. Battle three features Executive Chef Zackary Michael Busch of Madeline’s versus Chef Harrison Lemus of La Cocina Del Abuelo — Grandpa’s Kitchen.
Battle four on Sept. 1, features Director of Dining Services Esteban Morales of Fountain View at Logan Square versus Chef Hailey Curcio of Institute of Culinary Education. The winners of the primary contests will face off. A semi-final battle takes place on Sept. 2, and is followed by the Iron Chef Final Battle where the winner of the three rounds will compete against the 2022 winner, Executive Sous Chef Courtney Davenport of The Shelby.
New this year — Lehigh Valley Brewers’ Guild in partnership with Lehigh Valley Homebrewers presents a full day of demonstrations on the Farm to Table Stage on Labor Day, Sept. 4. The schedule includes cooking and beer pairings from McCall Collective Brewing Company, Two Rivers Brewing Company and Taylor House Brewing Company along with an “Art of Brewing” demonstration.
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, Strutter — A tribute to Kiss, Gircrue, Ras Noble & Majestic Lions, and Nexo.
Exploring the Midway
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.
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, and waffles and ice cream are only a few of the numerous fair foods on the grounds.
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.
Opening Night Aug. 30 with regular admission of $5. A special “$3 Bucks and a Can” promotion lets fairgoers get in by paying $3 at the gate and contributing a food item donation benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley.
“Weekdays Under the Wire” – all fairgoers are admitted into the fair free between noon and 2 p.m.
On Aug. 31, all active Military and Veterans with ID get in free all day on “Red, White, & Thank You” Military Appreciation Day.
On Labor Day, seniors age 65 and older with ID get in free all day for American Bank Senior Citizens Day.
Fairgoers may obtain all-day ride wristbands for $30 by purchasing them in advance through Aug. 29. The wristbands sell for $35 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, 3 p.m. on 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, view show schedules, and more information on The Great Allentown Fair, visit AllentownFair.com.