The state fair is a yearly American tradition. Taking place in late summer and early fall, state fairs celebrate a state’s cultural history with exhibits, attractions such as live-music and entertainment, and always great fair food. Every year there are hundreds of fairs across the country, but here we’ve outlined the 10 best state fairs to visit this year.
The Arizona State Fair in Phoenix is one of the largest state fairs in the country, consistently ranking in the top 5 for average yearly attendance. Over a million visitors attend the fair each year. There, they can take part in over 75 amusement rides and over a hundred different food booths. The central state also always has popular performers on top of the always present live-music being performed around the fairgrounds.
Formerly known as the Puyallup Fair, the Washington State Fair is one of the largest in the country. It’s grown significantly in the last few decades to well over a million visitors each year. The fair still centers around the agricultural heritage of the state, and has many exhibits and activities centered around farming, as well as abundant fresh locally grown products.
But that’s not all that the fair provides. The Knockout Concert Series brings together some of the most popular acts in the country. Wash that all down with some of the most exciting food and drink vendors in the state.
For eleven days each year, the Wisconsin State Fair takes over the month of August. The fair is especially noted for its many culinary fried delicacies. The state is famous for its fried cheese curds, and some of the best can be found at the fair. Don’t forget to sample the deep fried maple bacon cookie dough, peanut butter buffalo burgers or other concoctions on the menu in West Allis, Wisconsin.
It’s no surprise that the state that made the Kentucky Derby and Bluegrass Music would know how to put on a great state fair. From their legendary horse shows to fantastic music venues, the Kentucky State Fair is one of the summer’s top events in Louisville. Along with the big names in their concert series, horse displays and agricultural exhibits, the fair also has the great Southern fair food you’d expect to see.
One of the country’s oldest state fairs, the Great New York State Fair takes place in Syracuse for thirteen days. The state’s great agricultural heritage and history takes center stage at the fair, with many different exhibits and activities. The fair also has ample entertainment in live-music and attractions. Finally, don’t leave without sampling some of the fare from the Taste NY Food Truck Competition that goes on each year.
The North Carolina State Fair takes place each year in Raleigh and features agricultural exhibits, attractions such as Ferris wheels and amusement rides, along with live-music and great fair food. Walk through the different agricultural competitions, and stay for the nightly fireworks show.
The Big E, or Eastern States Exposition is a combined state fair featuring the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. With that many states being featured, the Big E is a one of the largest fairs in the country.
Traditional fair foods from each of the states are prominently featured, with favorites like corn dogs, fried dough, or new inventions such as bacon cheeseburgers on glazed donut buns. The Big E Concert Series provides an open-air performing setting with big-name bands and musicians.
With well over a million visitors each year, the Iowa State Fair is one of the country’s largest and best known. Agricultural contests are common throughout the fair, most famously featuring the Butter Cow. This cow is sculpted each year out of pure butter and makes an appearance at the fairgrounds. Other famous butter sculptures through the years have been Elvis Presely, as well as a butter rendition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”.
The Iowa State Fair is famous for their fried food, and over the years as featured fried Snickers, Oreos, fried Coke, and perhaps most infamously, fried butter.
With an attendance of over two million, the State Fair of Texas is often the largest fair in the nation. The fair begins with opening day ceremonies and an annual Friday parade through downtown Dallas. The festivities continue with an annual college football game between Oklahoma and Texas, known as the Red River Rivalry. The State Fair of Texas is also the only state fair to feature a full auto show.
When it comes to bizarre fair foods, Texas can’t be beat. Recent fairs have included fried avocados, fried peanut butter and jelly, fried s’mores, and deep fried chicken bacon.
The largest fair in the country by daily attendance, the Minnesota State Fair is not an event to miss. The fair features entertainment, agricultural exhibits, as well as attractions and activities for residents to showcase their unique talents. Art galleries, crafts stands and live-music are omnipresent throughout the fairgrounds. The juried competition of fine arts is one of the fairs most unique and exciting attractions and features incredible pieces from Minnesota residents.
The fair also has an annual 5-k run and horse showmanship show. The Grandstand, a music venue with seating for up to 17,000 features some of the biggest national names. Finally, the fair food can’t be beat. Along with the usual fried eccentricities, there are treats such as “Sweet Martha’s Cookies”, a cookie stand that serves chocolate chip cookies by the bucket.