By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer

Chaka Khan

The state fair returns to Cal Expo on July 15 after a two-year shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. There’s something good in store as music icon Chaka Khan helps kick off festivities with a scheduled opening-day performance.

The event, now officially billed as the California State Fair and Food Festival, runs through July 31.

Chaka Khan is set to perform during the Toyota Concert Series on the Golden 1 Stage. With a career that has spanned four decades, the Grammy winner has earned fans worldwide. Her classic hits include “Ain’t Nobody,” “Through the Fire, “I Feel for You,” “Tell Me Something Good” and “Sweet Thing.” A bonafide legend, Khan is a 10-time Grammy winner. She’s also an author, activist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The concert is set to begin at 8 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

General admission is free with fair admission. Wristbands are available for free seating behind the reserved Gold Circle seating. The wristband giveaway begins at 5 p.m. on the day of the concert outside the venue. Reserved seats are available for an additional $25. Wristband giveaway for free admission begins outside the venue at 5 p.m. the day of the concert.

The fair’s Multicultural Gospel Celebration returns 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, July 16. Choirs, groups, and praise dancers will take the stage for a spiritually uplifting experience. Recording artist Brent Jones will appear with special guest, the legendary Tramaine Hawkins. Jones’ albums include “Open Your Mouth and Say Something,” “Joy Comin’” and “Beautiful.” Like Khan, Hawkins has enjoyed a long and fruitful career. Her 50 years in the industry has earned her Grammy, Doves and Stellar awards. Her songs include “I Never Lost My Praise,” “Stand Still and Know” and “Excellent Lord.”

KC & The Sunshine Band will bring the funk July 20. The group’s hits include “Get Down Tonight, “That’s the Way I Like It,” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show. Free with admission or $20 for reserved seats.

Hitmakers TLC take the Golden 1 Stage on July 28. TLC has sold 85 million records worldwide and won Grammy, Soul Train and MTV awards, and produced countless hits like “Waterfalls,” “Scrubs” and “What About Your Friends.” Their albums “Fanmail” and “CrazySexyCool” are certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America and they have 1 billion plays on Pandora. General admission is free, reserved seating available for $25. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show.

Blanco Brown brings a little country to the Golden 1 Stage on July 29. The Atlanta-based country rapper, songwriter and producer is known for such songs as “The Git Up,” “Just the Way” and “Nobody’s More Country.” General admission is free, reserved seating $15.


Local Black entrepreneur Leo Hickman, owner of Classy Hippie Tea Company, leads a tea tasting class at 6 p.m. July 22. The class is part of the Taste of California activities. Cost is $5 in addition to a general admission ticket.

“Good Day Sacramento” anchor Courtney Dempsey co-hosts a fashion show July 30. The event features alumni designers from the hit TV competition “Project Runway,” such as Richard Hallmarq from season 11 and Coral Castillo from season 19, as well as designers from throughout California, including Sacramento’s Maisha Bahati. Dempsey hosts with “Project Runway” season 14 winner Ashley Nell Tipton. The show begins at 7 p.m. on the PG&E Center Stage.

While there is no Black Culture Day at the fair this year, past and present military service members and first responders can enjoy free admission on Military, Veteran and First Responder Appreciation Day on July 21. Military and civilian guests will enjoy a Cooking 911 Challenge at the Save Mart Kitchen.

Kids 12 and under are admitted to the fair for free Tuesdays. In addition, carnival rides are just $2. Youth also can participate in the Read to Ride Program. For every two books read, children K-8 receive two rides free and a monorail ticket.

Clear bag and unaccompanied minor policies, both new, will be enforced. Organizers say the bag policy will help reduce security screening interactions and expedite entry to the fairgrounds. The unaccompanied minor policy comes after fights broke out in past years. After 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, all youth age 17 and under must be accompanied by someone at least 21 years old. Youth under 18 are permitted to stay past 6 p.m. without an adult as long as they are admitted before that time.

For more on the fair, admission prices and hours of operation, visit