Rooted in tradition and dating back to the 1800s, state fairs showcase the pride and hard work of farmers, artisans, and community organizations all while bringing strangers, neighbors, friends, and families together. With the added fun of games, rides, and concert performances, attending a state fair is something the whole family can enjoy. Here are 5 state fairs that should top your “must-visit” list.
The Great New York State Fair – Syracuse, New York
August 23 – September 4, 2023
In 1841, the first state fair in the country was held in Syracuse, New York and is now known as The Great New York State Fair. With tickets priced at $6 per person (free for 12 & under and 65+), the fair has been described as one of the most affordable state fairs in the country. There are also special days where free admission is offered to students, first responders, and military members, plus fun days– beef day, apple day, and dairy day- that honor specific industries.
Concerts, fireworks, midway games, and rides are, of course, present but what about the food? In years past, there have been adventurous foods to try – kangaroo, shark, and gator served on sticks – plus foods for the sweet-toothed fairgoers, such as fried Oreos smothered in chocolate and marshmallow (called a S’moreo), and 16-inch hot cocoa-flavored ‘tater twists. Visit the Great New York State Fair
Iowa State Fair – Des Moines, Iowa August 10 – 20, 2023
With the population of hogs outnumbering the people in Iowa, they are out in full force at the Iowa State Fair held in Des Moines. The first Iowa State Fair was held in October of 1854. Now known as “America’s classic state fair,” it attracts more than one million people each year for the nine-day event that features grandstand shows, competitions, rides, and unique foods. Some of the unique foods include an Iowa sweet corn sundae, catfish on a stick, cotton candy cheesecake, and the “Iowa Twinkie” which is a jalapeño filled with pulled pork, cream cheese, and corn wrapped in bacon before being barbeque smoked and finished with ranch dressing. Visit the Iowa State Fair
State Fair of Texas – Dallas, Texas September 29 – October 22, 2023
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the State Fair of Texas wholly embodies that claim. This monumental fair features a 55-foot-tall mascot named Big Tex who wears a 95-gallon hat as he waves “Howdy!” to over 2 million fairgoers during the 24-day event. Since its establishment in 1886, the fair promotes education about the industry and agriculture of the Lone Star State while preserving its traditions. Fair Park, where the fair is held, has been designated a National Historic Landmark for its large collection of 1930s Art Deco exposition-style structures, and it is the site of several museums, as well as performance and sports venues, all of which help celebrate rich Texas culture. Along with livestock competitions, art exhibits, rides, and fairway games, there are rodeos, a soap bubble circus, and cooking contests. If you are looking for some “big eats” or classic State Fair of Texas foods, check out the corny dog, the fat Elvis biscuit, deep fried honey, or a slice of pickle pizza.
Visit the State Fair of Texas
Minnesota State Fair – Falcon Heights, Minnesota August 24 – September 4, 2023 Lovingly called the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the Minnesota State Fair brings over 1.8 million people to enjoy the arts, history, foods, and industry of Minnesota. Some of its popular events include lumberjack shows, amateur talent shows, sport exhibits, and animal showcases – including stunt dogs. The official state fair was first held in 1859, which was one year after Minnesota became a state, but the territory previously held a fair since 1854. So, grab yourself a bacon-wrapped waffle dog (a hot dog wrapped in bacon with a waffle bun), loaded lobster fries, sweet cheesecake curds, and a “Kind of a Big Dill” Pickle Lemonade and let’s “get-together” at the Minnesota State Fair! Visit the Minnesota State Fair
Arizona State Fair – Phoenix, Arizona September 22 – October 29, 2023 (Thursdays – Sundays only) The Arizona State Fair attracts over 1.3 million attendees, putting it in the top 10 largest fairs in North America. Established in 1905, the event boasts famous attendees such as Cher, Elvis, and former President Obama, as well as many famous performers throughout the years. Popular attractions include the Great American Petting Zoo, the Flying Royals acrobats, tribute band shows, and the high school rodeo. Some of the new food choices to hit last year’s fair are the LOCO Ramen cup, which is ramen noodles topped with corn and elote, Cinnamon Toast Crunch churros and funnel cake, and Mazapán con Lechera donuts.
Visit the Arizona State Fair We hope this inspires you to visit one of the state fairs on the list or a state fair near you. Have you been to one of these state fairs? Tell us about it at WinniWanderer@winni.com. Hearing from you will make our day!
____________________________________________________________ By Staff Contributor ____________________________________________________________