The Clydsedales are coming to the Pima County Fair.
The famous Budweiser horses had to make a pit stop at Country Thunder in Florence last weekend, but they’ll spend this weekend at the fairgrounds, entertaining some of the hundreds of thousands of Southern Arizonans expected to attend over the 11-day run.
Yes, we know, the fair is about stomach-churning carnival rides, from the kiddie-friendly round-and-rounds where kids sit in a bug or car; to the scary whip-you-around-and-take-you-up-in-the-air-to-impossible-heights-adults-only extreme rides, including the Insanity and the Mach 1.
And yes, it’s all about the food, from the fried Twinkies and fry bread to Flintstone-esque turkey legs and footlong corn dogs. And let’s not forget the 4-H exhibits where we get to see the cows and pigs raised by our future farmers before they go up for auction. And out in the sprawling field behind the fairgrounds on the big Budweiser stage, some pretty terrific rockers, rollers and pickers will entertain us for free after we pay our $9 admission and $5 to park the car.
But the Clydesdales, they’re pretty special.
“We’re excited that we get to get them,” said Launa L. Rabago, the fair’s entertainment and marketing manager.
This is the second year in a row that the Clydesdales will be featured at the fair after a long absence, and fair officials are making good use of the opportunity. The eight-horse hitch will be featured in a parade with the famous red beer wagon at 5 p.m. daily from Thursday, April 18, to Sunday, April 21.
Nearly 322,000 people came to the fair last year, which was down slightly from 2017, Rabago said, citing weather as a possible factor.
This year, she expects to see attendance jump in part because of the price — admission is $9 adults, $5 for kids and that includes admission to the exhibits and the concert series; rides are extra. She also points to the diverse concert lineup that includes rapper Shaggy on opening night, in his first Tucson appearance in nearly two decades, and rising country stars Frankie Ballard and Chris Janson. A limited number of reserved seat tickets — 500 — are available for $15 extra.
But the rides are always a focal point to the fair, and this year’s new rides will bring, from all corners of Pima County and Southern Arizona, the thrill-seekers and dare-makers — those adrenaline junkies who can’t wait to get on the 160-foot high Titan that will flip and toss you 17 stories at speeds exceeding 60 mph.
Just last month at RodeoHouston in Texas, the ride stalled on the top for eight minutes. There were no mechanical issues and no injuries, according to Texas media reports, which also noted that the riders who were stuck on top jumped back in line to take the ride again.
Also new this year: the Ice Jet, which rotates around a circle at impossible speeds, swinging the gondolas as it goes both backward and forward. Think of it as a toboggan ride on very serious steroids.