Five Best Fairs in the 50 States
Its summer and the state fairs are rolling out their tried and true events and some new surprises. State fairs are a tradition for many families, and what’s not to love? Fairs, parades, watermelon, baseball games, and fireworks are the stuff summer is made of.
Although fairs seem to offer the same food, rides, events and music, look more closely. There are subtle differences. State fairs reflect the culture and agriculture of the state they’re held in. Try out a different Fairs this summer, just for fun and look for the differences. If you can’t travel to another state, look for a smaller fair in the next county over. What’s your favorite fair?
When one thinks of large produce, Alaska isn’t the first state on your mind. Even though the growing season is quite short compared with southern states like Florida; from June through August the state gets roughly 18 hours of sunlight. The short season doesn’t seem to matter to vegetables and fruit; they grow when they have the chance. At the annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off, contestants compete for a $2,000 prize and the media spotlight. Previous winners have included an 83-pound rutabaga, and a 23-foot long corn. In addition to a line up of great concerts, check out the Knights of Valor Jousting Tournament — full contact jousting on horseback as seen on the History Channel. This year the fair dates are August 21 through September 1. For more information go to Alaska State Fair.
Wisconsin State Fair
Known for its famous cream puffs, the fair also offers a wide variety of cheese, butter, honey and other dairy products. New this year is the K-9 Sports Arena, which offers everything for the dog lover: dog dock diving, dancing dogs, the new rage Frisbee and agility courses, and Police K-9 units. Now in its second year is the WI State Fair Food Competition, aptly named The Spoorkies. The top eight finalists include a Loaded Twisted Dog, Chicken n Waffle Cone, and a Peanut Butter Bacon Bison Burge. Fairgoers can also vote for their favorite via social media after tasting the 8 unusual foods from local restaurants. The fair runs from July 31 through August 10, for more events check out their website at Wisconsin State Fair.
The Big E Fair
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Eastern States Exposition is actually New England’s regional fair, bringing together six states: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. For 17 days every September almost a million people visit the vast fairgrounds to enjoy Maine lobster, Cape Cod cranberries, Vermont maple syrup and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. A walk down the Avenue of States, with scaled down replicas of the original statehouses standing on lots owned by each state, brings together the regional focus. Other favorites include the Eastern States Exposition Horse Show, and the European-style Super Circus and a chance meeting with the wandering Mechanical Man. More details can be found at The Big E.
New York State Fair
Like many other state fairs, New York has a strong agricultural presence in the United States. Known for its vineyards, dozens of wineries host tastings at the fair, more than any other state including California. Representatives from a variety of New York wineries talk about the differences between red grapes and white grapes and which wines ought to be served with certain entrees. There are also demonstrations on making homemade wine and homemade brew. For concerts, dates and more information, go to www.nysfair.org.
State Fair of Texas
Established in 1886, the Texas State Fair is big just like everything in Texas. Even the 52’ foot tall mascot, Big Tex, is huge and not to be missed. Many fairs have pig races, but have you ever seen an ostrich race? You can see both at this fair. The fair also offers a huge Chili cook-off, a BBQ cook-off and the Great American Spam Championship. Other food choices include the awesome Deep-Fried Nutella, Fried Cuban Roll and a battered, deep-fried cheese, pepper and bacon dish called The Texas Fried Fireball. If you really don’t like crowds, this may not be the fair to go to. Last year the fair took in over two million people in less than two weeks. For a detailed schedule, check out State Fair of Texas.