The State Fair of Oklahoma opens this week, and in addition to all the old favorite foods, events and competitions, several new items are on the docket for this year. 

All the new events are family-friendly, but one is sure to thrill people of all ages. Yogi is a 600-pound grizzly bear, and he will be at the fair, accompanied by two younger (and smaller) grizzlies, Dottie and Lea. Visitors can watch the interaction between the bears and their human handler. The Grizzly Experience is a combination of thrilling entertainment and fascinating education about these beautiful creatures.

State fair - horses

Speaking of interactions between humans and animals, this year’s Oklahoma Frontier Experience will feature one of Mexico’s traditional horseman, a charro. The churros are Mexican cowboys, and like their American counterparts, they too developed a series of equine competitions similar to rodeo—called charreada—to test their cowboy skills. Gabriel Hernandez is only 14, and already he’s one of the world’s best charreada competitors. Visitors to the fair will be able to see him work with his horse, El Vallo.

The fair has also added two new categories to the livestock competition: open sheep and British white beef cattle. If you’re new to the livestock competitions, they are an excellent source for high school students to earn money for college. The animals are auctioned off during the fair, and proceeds go directly to the young farmers’ college funding.

For the history buffs, check out Wayne Cantwell, aka the Flyin’ Fiddler. While he’s from around these parts, this is his first appearance at the Oklahoma Frontier Experience. Cantwell has been teaching fiddle, banjo and dulcimer in Oklahoma for more than 30 years, and he’s been performing for at least that long. His focus is traditional American and Celtic music, which he will play on the fiddle and 5-string clawhammer banjo during the fair. Come hear the music of country barn dances and campfires.

State Fair of Oklahoma

Artisan Reggie Delarm, a potter with 45-years experience, will also be at the Oklahoma Frontier Experience, demonstrating how to make pottery in both method and style that was used in the 1800s.

An impressive who’s who of judges screened the films for this year’s first-ever Oklahoma State Fair Film Festival and its accompanying competition. Academy Award-winning producer Gray Frederickson (Godfather Part II) and deadCENTER executive director Lance McDaniel are among the judges who chose the winners—first through third place—among these short films submitted ahead of the fair. The winners will be shown in the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center on September 14.

Another fine arts event this year is the live Oklahoma Mural Challenge. Twenty artists will be accepted to compete for cash awards. Their work, which they will create in front of judges and an audience, will be on display through the duration of the fair. The event is in The Circle on September 14.

State Fair of Oklahoma

A game show designed for children and teens, the Kids Celebration is an interactive experience for the whole family. All kids present will have the opportunity to be the star of the show. Held on the entertainment stage at the Bennett Event Center, each show will be different, which means a new challenge every day. Also on the entertainment stage, this year the Xtreme Chinese Acrobats will entertain fair-goers with daring and seemingly death-defying stunts.