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65th annual state fair opens Friday for 10 days.

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The main gates swing open Friday, Oct. 8, to the 65th Arkansas State Fair, featuring the monstrous midway, free concerts (well, free with a fair admission), livestock show and auction and the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, which means something to participants who are eyeing spots in the National Rodeo Finals next month. The state fair annually draws more than 400,000 people, making it Arkansas’s largest entertainment event. Forgoing the ticketed concerts it used to feature at Barton Coliseum, the fair this year will have free outdoor shows by country hitmaker Ricky Van Shelton (Oct. 8), ZOEGirl (Oct. 9), Christian rock trio PlusOne (Oct. 13), classic rockers Night Ranger (Oct. 15), and the Ultimate Tribute to Elvis (Oct. 16). Along with its 10 acres of midway rides, the fair’s Extreme Zone will cater to youths with special activities such as a lumberjack challenge, slot car racing, bungee jumping, 3-D simulators, rock climbing and more. The Exotic Petting Zoo, where kids can get up close to the animals, shouldn’t be missed by young families. Arkansas-oriented food, music, talent and more will be featured throughout the fairgrounds off Roosevelt Road through Sunday, Oct. 17. The PRCA rodeo begins Thursday, Oct. 14. Barton Coliseum, within the grounds, will have lawn mower racing on Friday, Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m. and monster truck racing on Saturday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. Family value packs at $37.95 entitle a family of four to $10 in food coupons, 24 ride tickets and a parking pass. Daily admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 7-12 and seniors 60 and over, and free for children 6 and under. Fairgrounds parking is $5. Gates open at 8 a.m., and opening day is "50-cent Friday," meaning all rides are a half-dollar. Call 372-8341 or visit ArkansasStateFair.com on the Internet for more information.
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