For many people in the United States, State Fair time is a rite of summer. From grandstand shows to prize animals and vegetables to food on a stick, there’s something about a state fair that people love. But of all the fairs that are out there, which is the best? Well, that may just depend on what you’re looking for. I offer the following state fair suggestions.
If you want to . . .
Start the year off at a state fair: Florida. The Florida State Fair is held annually in February. Yes, that’s right, February. So if you just can’t wait until a summer fair rolls around, head south in the winter and enjoy the Florida State Fair before you turn too many calendar pages.
Spend time with a couple hundred thousand of your neighbors: Minnesota. The Minnesota State Fair broke an attendance record in 2009, with 1, 790,497 visitors during its 12-day run. Daily attendance often tops 200,000 on the weekends of the fair. When they call it “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” they’re not kidding.
Plan a class field trip to the state fair: Kansas. With its Kansas Largest Classroom program, the Kansas State Fair plans itineraries and activities for classrooms to visit the fair as an educational setting.
Find an affordable outing: South Dakota. With admission for adults at $5 a day or $20 a week (kids cost even less), family plans of $15/day, and free admission after 8 p.m., the South Dakota State Fair is good fun at a great price.
See some really big vegetables: Alaska. A world-record 127-pound cabbage was entered at the 2009 Alaska State Fair, and it’s not uncommon to see other record-breaking fruits and vegetables at this fair.
Visit a fair that’s been around for a long time: Michigan. Claiming to be the nation’s oldest state fair, the Michigan State Fair, was first held in 1849. That’s a lot of blue ribbons ago!
Plan your day at the fair ahead of time: Oregon. At the Oregon State Fair website, you can browse all the goings-on and add your favorites to your “My Can’t-Miss List.” It’s a great idea for those who don’t want to miss a thing at the fair.
Have plenty of opportunities to see the fair: Texas. Running 24 days, the Texas State Fair allows plenty of time to get to the fair. In its past, it’s run even longer: 31 days for the state’s sesquicentennial in 1986 (with almost 4 million visitors). Yes, everything really is bigger in Texas, and the state fair is no exception.
See a rodeo: Wyoming. The rodeo is so much a part of the fair in Wyoming that it’s part of the title: The Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo. If rodeo’s not your thing, don’t worry; they have all of the usual fair fun as well.
Go to one last fair this year: Arizona. The 2009 Arizona State Fair runs from October 16-November 8, so after you’ve seen all the other fairs, you can head to Arizona for one last fair experience. After that, you can enjoy the holidays before heading to Florida to start all over again!
Visit the most famous state fair: Iowa. Iowa Tourism, via twitter, informs me that the original novel “State Fair” was based on it, followed by three motion pictures and a Broadway musical. People who aren’t even from Iowa let me know that the Iowa fair deserves to be on this list. Their state fair is indeed a great state fair!
See a great 4-H Education Area: Indiana. According to IndyStateFair on twitter, Indiana is also known for its Pioneer Village, Hot Air Balloon Race, Dairy Bar, and Little Hands on the Farm. Sounds like a fun fair, doesn’t it?
Do you have a favorite state fair? Favorite fair activity or food? Share your state fair memories below!
Photo credits (in order of appearance): Benimoto on flickr; me_ram on flickr; Deacon_Steve on flickr; ercwttmn on flickr; ercwttmn on flickr; ricardo.martins on flickr; jessiesgirl614 on flickr; eyeliam on flickr; Big C Harvey on flickr; Wellington Grey; andrew.petro on flickr.
Linda (minnemom) has been crazy enough to take her four kids to the
Minnesota State Fair the past two years. This year they went twice.
She writes about their travel adventures at Travels with Children.