By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
Whether you’re a Ginuwine fan, like to wager on thoroughbreds, or riding ponies on a giant merry-go-round is more your speed, the State Fair has something for you.
The event, now officially billed as the California State Fair and Food Festival, returns to Cal Expo on Friday, July 14, and runs through Sunday, July 30. The fair resumed last year after a two-year hiatus brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the two-week event’s lineup of concerts remains a big draw.
Singer Noelle Scaggs brings her talents and efforts to “Diversify the Stage” on opening-night as she performs with the soul-inspired band Fitz and the Tantrums on July 14. The alternative pop band takes the stage at 8 p.m. Their songs include “Sway,” “I Just Wanna Shine” and “Handclap.” Their performance is the first in the Toyota Concert Series.
The fair keeps it funky with Confunkshun taking the Golden 1 Stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 15. The R&B funk icons have pleased fans for half a century with such hits as “Ffun,” “Chase Me,” “Shake & Dance,” “Baby I’m Hooked” and “Love’s Train,” which was recently rerecorded and presented to a new generation of music lovers by Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak).
Motownphilly’s back again … the award-winning R&B group Boyz ll Men performs on the Golden 1 Stage on Monday, July 17. Boyz II Men’s long list of classics include “Motownphilly,” “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee” and “A Song for Mama” from the “Soul Food” movie soundtrack.
Ginuwine takes the stage Tuesday, July 18. His debut album, “Ginuwine…The Bachelor” was released in late 1996 and was carried by the wildly popular song, “Pony.” The album went double-platinum, as did his second LP, “100% Ginuwine.” The R&B star also found success with the supergroup LSG.
The group, composed of Ginuwine, Keith Sweat and the late Gerald Levert, offered mature, sexy sounds their individual fans couldn’t get enough of.
The annual Multicultural Gospel Celebration is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 22, on the PG&E Center Stage. The showcase features performers such as James Jackson, Jessica Reedy and Keyla Richardson making a joyful noise. Choirs, groups, ensembles and youth choirs perform throughout the day.
It’s your thing, do what you want to do; the legendary Isley Brothers continue the Toyota Concert Series on Saturday, July 22. The Isley Brothers are considered one of the most influential bands in American musical history and recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. The group that brought fans such songs as “It’s Your Thing,” “Between the Sheets” and “For the Love of You, Parts 1 and 2” performs at 8 p.m.
Baby, baby, baby … Ashanti turns it up a notch with some East Coast flavor on Wednesday, July 26. The multitalented performer and Grammy winner’s hits include “Foolish,” “Rock Wit U,” “Happy” and “Baby.”
There’s a party going on right here … or there will be when the iconic band Kool & the Gang plays Saturday, July 29. The group has performed together since the 1960s, influencing several generations of music fans and solidifying legend status. Songs like “Celebration,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Summer Madness,” and “Fresh” have earned them countless awards.
Cost for the concert series is free with fair admission. Wristbands are available for free seating behind reserved seating. The wristband giveaway begins at 5 p.m. on the day of the concert outside the venue. Reserved “gold circle” seats are available for $25.
Clear-bag and unaccompanied-minor policies will be enforced. All bags brought into Cal Expo must be clear plastic, vinyl or PVC no larger than 12-by-12-by-2 inches or a one-gallon clear plastic bag (Ziploc or similar) or a small clutch. See acceptable bags and exceptions at calexpostatefair.com/info/code-of-conduct.
For more on the fair, including full schedule of events, admission prices and hours of operation, visit calexpostatefair.com.