Cal Expo and the California State Fair & Food Festival announced on Friday that the Fair would be returning next year following a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the joint announcement, the 2022 fair will be held from July 15th – July 31st at Cal Expo in Sacramento. All normally scheduled events are expected to return, with the addition of several new ones. Among the newer events includes a cannabis competition, which sparked controversy when it was first announced earlier this week.
Despite that, Cal Expo officials noted their excitement at the state fair returning next year.
“We are thrilled to announce that the California State Fair will come roaring back in 2022,” said Cal Expo Board Chairwoman Jess Durfee on Friday. “While Cal Expo has been honored to provide support and much-needed aid to Californians during this health crisis, our region and state have greatly missed the excitement of the State Fair.”
While on hiatus for the last two years, Cal Expo has served as a mass COVID-19 testing site, with both the Sacramento County Public Health Department and Kaiser Permanente utilizing the grounds as a mass vaccination site. In addition, the grounds have also been used to help the homeless population of the city as a warming site during cold weather.
The Fair is expected to bring millions back to the fair and nearly 1,000 seasonal jobs. As the fair annually brings in between 550,000 and 750,000 people, the local economy is expected to get a large boost next summer due to the large influx of visitors to the area from across the state. The COVID-19 pandemic cost around $16 million in revenue each year, with the local economic sting being even higher due to lost spending at local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that cater to fair visitors in July.
State Fair return also means return of political presence, events
The return of the fair also means the return of a large political opportunity for state and local level candidates in the 2022 election. As state fairs attract people from across the state, both political parties and major candidates in elections often have presences in the forms of tents or tables at the fair each year.
“Sacramento and the surrounding area is often a critical area for state races,” explained Northern Californian political advisor Russ Stanley to the Globe on Friday. “The fair brings people from all over the state, but the bulk comes from Sacramento and the Bay Area. For Democrats, it can mean helping solidify the base while appearing in a much different setting. For Republicans, it means meeting more rural and agriculturally inclined voters from across the state and winning over voters coming in from swing counties.”
“And since this is a mid-term year, as well as a Gubernatorial election year, it can play a huge part in things. A lot of state positions and Congressional elections are up in the air, as are questions like “Is [Governor Gavin] Newsom going to survive another election?” or “Will the Democrats lose more seats to the GOP this year?”. The state fair is a rare opportunity for a huge audience and a way to appear as a man, or woman, of the people. It’s a giant photo op for candidates, especially when eating fair food, too.
“The fair is returning. But so is one of the most important softball political stops for candidates and their campaigns. All candidates going will be putting out all the stops.”
More information about the fair is expected to be released in the coming months.