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LANCASTER — It’s time for “Sweet Delights and Carnival Lights” as the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival kicks off Friday for a 10-day run.

One of the Valley’s longest-lasting traditions, the annual event marks its 81st year with a full slate of concerts, track events, homemade goods of all kinds, animals, rides and of course, food.

“The Antelope Valley Fair has a long tradition of providing fun and opportunities for every generation,” CEO Dan Jacobs said. “We’re making an effort to ensure that wherever anyone goes, they’ll be able to find something affordable for the entire family to enjoy.”

While much of the event is steeped in tradition, fair organizers provide new attractions as well.

Chief among them this year is the Aerospace Valley STEM Expo, a technology “petting zoo” with hands-on activities and displays highlighting science, technology, engineering and math.

An outgrowth of the Los Angeles County Air Show, it mimics the hands-on educational area that has been featured at the annual air show that has been held at Fox Field.

The free expo will take up the area to the west of the entry area that was formerly known as the Lilac Lawn. It will feature a large pavilion filled with hands-on activities and information representing all facets of the area’s aerospace and technology world, from Edwards Air Force Base and aerospace companies to local schools’ robotics and other tech programs.

A newer feature returning this year is the Backyard, an area featuring local craft breweries, wine tasting and games like corn hole and Jenga. It will be the scene of the free Brews and Beards competition at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22.

True to its agricultural roots, the annual Kiwanis Junior Livestock Auction will take place on Aug. 22 starting at 9 a.m. in the R. Rex Parris Show Arena.

Local youth, including many involved in area 4-H, FFA and Junior Grange organizations, raise their pigs, sheep, steers, chickens and more to be shown and judged during the fair, culminating in the annual auction, which is often punctuated by spirited bidding.

Beginning Friday, the fair will run through Aug. 26 at the fairgrounds, 2551 West Ave. H in Lancaster, just west of the Antelope Valley Freeway.

The fair opens daily at 4 p.m. and closes at midnight, with the exception of the last day on Aug. 26 when it closes at 11 p.m.

Free admission to the fair is available for select visitors on special days. These include children age 11 and younger on Kids Day, Aug. 19; seniors age 62 and older on Senior and Special Needs Day, also on Aug. 19; Grace Resources Canned Food Drive on Aug. 20, which provides one free admission and one ride pass from 4 to 6 p.m. for those donating five cans of food; Rotary Club Book Drive from 4 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 21, which offers one free admission and one ride pass for donating one new or three used elementary level books.

Admission is also free for the first hour of the fair on Friday from 4 to 5 p.m.

General admission is $13 and youth and senior tickets are $9. Active military members get in free with a military ID.

General admission to the fair includes grandstand seating for the Palmdale Auto Mall Concert Series, Figure 8 races and Rural Olympics.

Parking is $10 per car, cash only. A free shuttle carries visitors from the parking lot to the main entrance.

Carnival ride wristbands, which allow unlimited rides for one day, may be purchased for $35.

Complete information on the fair, including a map of the fairground and daily schedule of events and entertainment, may be found on the AV Fair app, available for Google and Apple systems.

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