The Valley Fair kickoff Thursday afternoon was the best time for Malcolm Merrill of Studio City to go to the event.
The fair, celebrating its 50th anniversary, opened at 4 p.m. in Burbank with Senior Citizens Day.
Getting in free is "one of the perks of being old," said Merrill, who would say only that he's old enough to be retired.
The fair at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center on Riverside Drive will run until Sunday.
Organizers expect about 10,000 visitors per day.
This year's event has a few more rides and attractions than the last few fairs, according to organizers.
Thursday's opening featured the Skyriders Bike and Blade Aerial Thrill Show--performers who do stunts on bikes and roller skates on a ramp.
Another old but improved feature is the Garden Pavilion, which this year has bigger and better fruits and vegetables, including a sugarless watermelon, said Jana Olson-Collins, a spokeswoman for the event.
Among the older, traditional attractions, one of the liveliest parts Thursday was the livestock area, where early arrivers admired the 450 animals--including sheep, rabbits, steers and pigs--waiting to be shown in competition or sold at the weekend's livestock show and auction.
In the past few years the fair has just about broken even, given the several hundred thousand dollars it costs to organize it, said Pam Corradi, fair president. She declined to give specific figures.
She said the committee expects this fair to be similar, financially, to the last few. Because it was losing money, Corradi said, the event was in jeopardy of being eliminated a few years ago.
However, the fair has come close to making a profit in the last few years, she said.
"If we make money we would love to contribute to some of the local charities," she said.
The fair opens today at noon and closes at 10:30 p.m.. On Saturday and Sunday, the gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 10:30 p.m.
Admission is $6, except for youngsters 11 years old or younger, who can get in for free as part of the fair-long theme of "Everyday Is Youth Day."