Animals, music, rides and hot dogs return to Pleasanton today to kick off the 2022 Alameda County Fair. 

The 2020 fair was canceled and the 2021 fair was postponed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For its homecoming, new events, rides and food jumpstart the fair’s regular summer schedule.

Free admission is offered on Friday, its opening day, until 3 p.m. The fair runs for nineteen days of fun until July 10 and opens from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. 

Saddle up because a kickoff concert by R&B star Ginuwine, known for his song “Pony,” starts at 8 p.m. 

For serious, or laid back, competitors with fast pace, a qualifying round for Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest will be held on Saturday. It is the only official qualifier on the West Coast for the contest held in New York every July 4. The top three male and female winners are invited to the final round at Coney Island. 

Saturday will also see the return of the Sun’s Out Fun’s Out charity run. Participants run a mile on the historic racetrack and a course through the Alameda fairgrounds. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Sunflower Hill, which assists adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The run begins at 9 a.m. 

After the run, participants who are 21 years old can reward themselves with a beer. Head to the Brew Fest from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The tasting event features unique beers from more than 15 breweries. 

The fair will celebrate pride month with an “Out at the Fair” festival on Sunday. 

Pig races, nightly family movies, the John Madden Memorial Bus and Cheeto pizza will add that additional fair-feeling to the lineup of festivities.