From Boots to Roots : Wrestling and lawn mower racing are among events at the 11-day Antelope Valley Fair.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Sharon Moeser is a regular contributor to The Times

No need to go to a smoke-filled arena that reeks of stale beer to watch grown men slam into one another. World Class Wrestling is coming to the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festi val.

The much-maligned professional spectator sport is just one of a plethora of offerings that include the unusual and the expected at the 56th annual fair, which begins an 11-day run today at the fairgrounds in Lancaster.

World Class Wrestling gets under way at 6 p.m. Sunday, culminating with the U.S. Title Match, which pits Ricky Steamboat “The Dragon” against Stunning Steve Austin. Tickets are $8 and $10.

Other unusual events--from the Rural Olympics to a huge horse named Hercules--are part of this year’s fair, “Cowboy Boots and Country Roots,” which is expected to draw about 300,000 people, according to fair officials.


High-speed lawn mower racing, a contest with its roots in England, begins at 2 p.m. Saturday. The three-class competition includes stock, slightly modified and experimental mowers that can roar to speeds of up to 45 m.p.h.

A number of equestrian events will take place, beginning with barrel racing at 7 tonight and team penning Saturday and Sunday. The Miss Rodeo competition starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday and the Grange Open Youth Horse and Pony Show is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday. The 4-H Round-Up and Gymkhana competitions are Thursday while Jackpot Team Roping is slated for Sept. 4 and 5.

Contestants in the popular Rural Olympics, which officials say are unique to the Antelope Valley Fair, will compete in such events as hay loading, gravel transferring and Model “T” racing, with the winner of the car race going against a mule and a longhorn steer. The Rural Olympics, with $15,000 in prize money at stake, begin at 4 p.m. Sept. 3. Tickets are $8 and $10.

Other grandstand events include figure-eight car races at 6:30 tonight, the popular Demolition Derby on Saturday, Monster Trucks on Sept. 4 and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. Rodeos on Sept. 4 and 5. Tickets are $8 and $10.


Country, rock and comedy are being offered during the fair’s concert series, which kicks off Monday with Hank Williams Jr., followed Tuesday by Randy Travis. Clint Black makes his only Los Angeles-area appearance this year on Thursday. REO Speedwagon will perform Wednesday while comedian Carrot Top headlines Sept. 2. Concert tickets range from $12 to $25 and include fair admission. (To order concert tickets in advance, call (805) 948-6060.)

Free musical performances are offered on a pair of stages. The lineup includes “Yesterday,” a tribute to the Beatles, on Saturday and singer Alvaro Torres on Sunday. Rob Hanna offers “A Salute to Rod Stewart” on Sept. 3 and Freddy Fender will perform Sept. 4.

Beyond the usual pygmy pigs and cuddly chicks, an exhibit of large animals will showcase a 3,000-pound horse named Hercules; a steer that is more than 11 feet long and tips the scales at 3,300 pounds; and a 12-foot, 1,000-pound alligator.

For smaller humans, the Kid’s Korral features a petting zoo, carnival rides and contests, including the Diaper Derby races on Sunday.



What: The 56th annual Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival.

Location: Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 155 East Ave. I, Lancaster.

Hours: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. today, opening day. Weekdays 3 p.m. to midnight, weekends noon to 1 a.m. except closing day, Sept. 5, noon to 10 p.m.


Price: $5, $3 for seniors 65 and older and children 7 to 12. Military personnel in uniform and children 6 and under free. Grandstand events additional. Parking $2.

Free Days: On Kids Day, Monday, children 12 and under free. Tuesday, the disabled and a guest free. On Grandparent’s Day, Sept. 4, children 12 and under free when accompanied by a grandparent.

Call: (805) 948-6060.