For more than 80 years the Napa Town & Country Fair at the Napa Valley Expo has been a family tradition for the residents of Napa Valley. The hometown fair features fun for the entire family including children’s activities, interactive entertainment, music, commercial vendors, agricultural exhibits, animals, food, drinks and of course — carnival rides. In recent years, the fair took place in July, but it has moved to Wednesday, August 10 through Sunday, August 14 this year. The “Red, White & Ewe” themed fair offers five days of wholesome fun for the entire family starting at noon each day through midnight (10 pm on Sunday). I remember going to the fair (can’t resist a corn dog every once in a while) when I first moved to Napa, but it’s so much more fun with a kid! We love the rides, the entertainment, and the pigs and goats (they are always a favorite). And yes, a corn dog is part of our annual tradition.
New this year, California-based Helm & Sons Amusements is running the carnival and they are pros! For the little ones, there’s Cub Country, a kid-friendly zone with rides and amenities just their size. No scary monsters or screaming fast rides here! Just gentle fun for little ones and their families. With everything from the gentlest rocking horse to rides with just enough fun to make them scream with delight, Cub Country has it all. Lots of rides feature seating for moms and dads too, so the whole family can ride. For the slightly bigger kids there are plenty of fun, family-friendly rides scattered throughout the midway.
All entertainment is included with the price of admission, and there’s plenty to choose from. Many local groups are performing, including Academy of Danse on Wednesday, Expressions Dance Studio and Napa School of Music on Thursday, Sidekicks Martial Arts on Thursday and Saturday, Napa Valley Dance Center on Friday, Pepperette Baton & Dance Club, and Ballet Zempoalxochitl on Sunday.
Other entertainment scheduled throughout the five days includes Kids Celebration, the #1 family game show for groups of all ages, featuring fun, interactive competitions that invite the entire audience to participate. Hypnotist Kellie Karl’s show is fresh, hilarious, audience-friendly and a lot of fun and Something Ridiculous is a high-energy juggling and acrobatic act performed by slapstick stuntmen Mark Wilder and Vonjon.
A favorite is Circus Imagination, the circus where the kids are the stars. The circus starts with Tina the Tightrope Walker who climbs a make-believe ladder 100 feet in the air, followed by Sandow The Strongman, Clarence the Clown, Marco the Lion Tamer and his Ferocious Animals, Believe It Or Not, The Butterfly Ballet, Champagne Sisters, Dead Eye McBang the cowboy or Calamity Oakley the cowgirl, The Amazing Animal Parade and the final and most expected circus act is Zazelle, The Human Cannonball: a very lucky kid who gets picked to get shot out of a cannon. All entertainment is scheduled several times throughout the five days, so you don’t have to miss anything.
Each evening features a live musical performance: Wednesday is the unauthorized Rolling Stones and America; Thursday is The Wiz Kid and Morris Day & the Time; Friday is Chicago the Tribute and John Michael Montgomery; Saturday is Foreigner Unauthorized and WAR; and Sunday finishes off with Tierra and The Spazmatics.
Since the fair’s inception, artists, craftspeople, farmers and youth have entered competitions at the annual Napa Town & Country Fair. Exhibits include competitions and displays of arts and crafts, flowers, farm produce, as well as homemade beer and wine. There is a junior category for kids under 19 years of age to display exhibits and a special 4-H section, open to recognized members of a Napa County 4-H Club from kindergarten through age 19, which include the same categories. Junior activities also include Junior 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) showmanship in the livestock area starting before the fair officially opens (swine show at 8 am on Wednesday with a goat show later that afternoon; sheep show at 8 am on Thursday with a beef show later in the day; and master showmanship at 10 am on Friday. Saturday features a livestock auction starting at 9 am (registration begins at 9 am).
Ticket prices are $13 for adults, $10 for Seniors 60+ and kids age 6-12, and children under 5 are free. Opening day on Wednesday is the perfect day come with the grandparents – it’s Senior Day and admission is $8 for age 60+. Thursday is Kid’s Day where ages 12 and under get in free all day. Carnival wristbands are available each day for $32, and onsite parking is $10, cash only. Advance fair tickets are available to purchase online at and have a savings of $3 per ticket. If you’re planning to take the little ones every day, consider the $50 adult pass, good for fair admission each day.
See you at the fair!