With Pleasanton's annual summer showcase just a month away, Alameda County Fair officials have unveiled more about the 2019 event schedule, including announcing the fair will once again open with a cattle drive through downtown -- but for the last time.
Cultural festivals and pride celebrations, special pricing days, the new Mega Flip ride and live horse racing dates were among the other scheduling highlights released during the past week ahead of the 2019 fair, which runs June 14 to July 7 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in central Pleasanton.
Fair favorites are returning too, with demolition derby, extreme rodeo, junior livestock auction, exhibits, kids' park, pig races, carnival games, fair food, and of course, the rides.
Back as well will be the sound of hooves rumbling through downtown for the third annual opening day cattle drive. But this summer will be residents' last chance to see the live cattle drive in Pleasanton, as fair officials plan to do away with the parade next year.
"We are looking forward to the 'Last Ride' of our opening day cattle drive," said Angel Moore, vice president of business development. "It has been a wonderful opening celebration, but the Alameda County Fair is always changing and evolving. We want to be able to create new, fun experiences that will keep all our fair-goers excited about attending year after year."
The 2019 cattle drive will begin at 10:30 a.m. on opening day, June 14. More than 150 large steer, along with cowgirl and cowboy handlers on horseback and on foot, will lead the procession from the fairgrounds' Rose Avenue Gate, down Del Valle Parkway and continue on to Main Street and then back to the fairgrounds.
The cattle drive kicks off an opening weekend with a "Western Weekend" theme.
In all, the 2019 Alameda County Fair will run for three and a half weeks during the summer, starting on June 14 and closing July 7 -- open Wednesdays through Sundays, with closure days on all Mondays and Tuesdays.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, except for Independence Day when the fair will close early at 8 p.m.
Every night, other than July 4, the fair will host the Big O Tires free concert series from 8-9:15 p.m., featuring all sorts of musical acts and a fireworks show after each performance.
Singers and bands on the schedule for this summer include WAR on opening night and Vince Neil (lead singer of Mötley Crüe) on the final night. Other shows include Ashanti, Trace Adkins, Gin Blossoms, Aly & AJ, Loverboy, Sheila E. and Ramon Ayala, plus tribute bands performing hits from Bruno Mars, KISS, Johnny Cash and Steely Dan.
Another popular draw to the fair, live horse racing is scheduled to take place June 14-16, 20-23 and 27-30, and July 4-7.
For the thrill-seekers, the fair is introducing the new Mega Flip, a brand-new extreme ride that thrusts riders high into the sky from four different swinging booms while simultaneously spinning and flipping. The popular Sky Ride will be back as well, a gondola-style ride offering soaring views of the entire fairgrounds.
Also debuting at the fair this year are new cultural festivals featuring live entertainment, attractions and other activities: Fiesta a la Feria on June 16, Out at the Fair (LGBTQ pride) on June 22, Asian Pacific Celebration at the Fair on June 23 and Bollywood at the Fair on June 30.
Special discount days are also on the schedule, including FriYAY Free Day until 3 p.m. on opening day June 14, and free admission until 5 p.m. for dads on Father's Day, for seniors on Boomer Free Fridays each Friday, for First Responder's Day on July 4 and for Military Appreciation Day every day.
There will also be free admission and $1 rides until 5 p.m. for those who donate on Pet Food Drive on June 19, Feed the Need Food Drive on June 26 and Clothing Drive for Foster Kids on July 3. And $2 Fair Food Bites Thursdays will be back on June 20 and 27.
For more information on schedules, discount days, concerts and tickets, visit www.alamedacountyfair.com.