Best State Fairs in the US
Going to a State Fair
When is the State Fair?
Excited about the state fair? Can't wait for the food, exhibits, concerts, or rides your state fair has to offer?
Most state fairs occur across the United States from mid-summer until late fall. These fairs were designed to showcase what each state has to offer in terms of agricultural items, from farm equipment to farm animals. They also have handmade craft items and many other exhibits, like those from fair sponsors or local clubs or groups.
Today, fairs also include a carnival-like atmosphere, with rides, games, and a lot of food to entice a younger crowd. They are family friendly and for the most part affordable.
Learn about what state fairs have to offer, from their exhibits, foods, concerts, and more!
Largest State Fairs
Largest State Fairs
Minnesota State Fair
Iowa State Fair
New York State Fair
Wisconsin State Fair
Indiana State Fair
Ohio State Fair
California State Fair
State Fair Prices
If you're going to visit a state fair, expect to spend a minimum of about $20. State fair prices vary from $6-$10 or more to enter, depending on which fair you visit. There may be other costs as well. Many state fairs charge a fee to park which is usually around $3-$5. Most fairs will charge separately for rides, games, and foods as well.
Of course, if you are visiting the fair with your family, you may want to have more in your wallet. Often, kids under 10-12 are free, but you may spend quite a bit on rides and games for them.
Discount State Fair Tickets
Most state fairs offer discounted tickets at local stores or other venues. Also, check the local newpapers or online for coupons. If you purchase a ticket early online, it will be at a discounted price. Senior citizens may also get a discount if they show proof of age.
State Fair Hours
Many state fairs are open for a week or more and operate from mid-morning until a few hours after sunset.
Visit your state fair's website for specific dates and hours.
Hours for the State Fair
State FairgroundsClick thumbnail to view full-size
State Fair Grounds
Since state fairs tend to be pretty large, they need a lot of space to spread out. Most fairgrounds sprawl in the middle of a large property with both indoor and outdoor venues. Some use a large arena or complex to house the fair, especially if it is not during the summer or fall seasons.
For instance, the PA Farm Show, which is Pennsylvania's State Fair, is held in January inside a large complex that houses an arena plus plenty of space for livestock and exhibits. The California State fair uses a large property with indoor and outdoor exhibits and shows.
Some fair grounds will have paved parking while others will have field parking where things can get pretty dirty and muddy. Be mindful of this when visiting your state fair!
Exhibits at State FairsClick thumbnail to view full-size
State Fair Exhibits
Since state fairs are about the agricultural achievements of the state, you'll find plenty of farming exhibits, along with farm animals, farm fresh produce, and farm equipment.
State fairs also support handmade goods, so you will see hand crafted items such as furniture, home decorations, crafts, or holiday décor.
To cater to everyone, though, there are often exhibits that are not all about farming. Often times sponsors will bring their goods and have examples for people to try. There are also hunting exhibits, particularly if you live in a state where deer or small game hunting is popular.
On the carnival side of the fair, usually by the games and rides, you'll find bizarre exhibits like the 'freak' shows with the 'world's smallest human' or the half-animal, half-human creatures. These can be seen for a small price, separate from the admission price.
State Fair FoodClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bizarre Fair Foods
State Fair Foods
At state fairs there is a great variety of foods. Here are some of the most common and popular fair foods:
- blooming onion
- funnel cake
- corn dogs
- fried Oreos
- fried cheesecake
- sausage and peppers
- apple dumplings
- French fries, with or without cheese
- ice cream
- elephant ears
- roasted corn-on-the-cob
Of course, the foods list wouldn't be complete without the bizarre kinds of foods you find at fairs, such as:
- deep fried gizzards
- deep fried pickle on a stick
- fried butter on a stick
- deep fried pb&j sandwich
- fried beer
- frozen pickle pop
- python kabobs
Rides at State FairsClick thumbnail to view full-size
State Fair Rides
State fair rides are very much like carnival rides, although sometimes larger due to the extra space a state fair provides.
There are the usual rides, like the Ferris Wheel, merry-go-round, tilt-a-whirl, or swings, but you may also find rides that give you a tour of the fair, such as a sky ride or a horse and carriage ride. There are also fun rides for the kids, like a mini-roller coaster, cars on a track, or the ever popular pony rides.
For those who like to test their limits and seek adventure, there are also rides such as the rides that spin high up in the air, bungee jumping rides, or helicopter rides.
Of course, all rides at a fair are usually a separate price from the admission price. Also, be mindful of the safety of the rides. Being that most of the rides are carnival rides, they are assembled and taken down quite often, making them not as sturdy as an amusement park ride. Plus, they may not be subject to inspection as would amusement park rides.
Rides at the California State Fair
Concerts at State Fairs
State Fair Concerts
Since state fairs often bring in big crowds, they are great venues for concerts or shows. Many big-name stars, especially country stars like Sugarland, or Keith Urban, have concerts at state fairs.
There are also comedy acts or other performances at state fairs. Jeff Dunham and Weird Al Yankovich have been at fairs.
To find out who may be performing at your state fair, visit the state fair's website and look for concert information and tickets.
Keep in mind that the price of a concert or show ticket is often separate from the admission price of the fair.
Are You Going to the Fair?
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Visiting a State Fair
Before you go to the fair, think about the weather, whether it is indoors or outdoors, and whether you need to bring anything extra with you.
Clothing should be comfortable and appropriate for the weather. If you will be visiting the livestock exhibits, remember that there may be mud, hay, and some 'cow pies', so wear the appropriate kinds of shoes, preferably a pair that you won't mind getting dirty. Also, bring along a light jacket if the weather is going to be cool and you will be outside.
If you are bringing kids, you might want to consider a wagon or a stroller to carry both them and any supplies you might need, like diapers, wipes, or an extra set of clothes.
Bring a camera along if you want to capture the memories or document your trip. The photos can be great additions to family or travelling scrapbooks, or they can be shared with friends and family online.
Have fun visiting your state fair!
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