Summer is fair time across the country, from county fairs to state fairs. While county fairs offer a distinctly local flavor, state fairs still reflect the overall culture of the state. In case you are ready to hit the road in search of an awesome fair experience, here are some of the best state fairs.
How does anyone rate 50 state fairs to decide which are the best state fairs? One approach would be to just pick your home state and maybe a few other states where you have lived or have a connection. A slightly more objective approach might be to visit all 50 state fairs and note the distinctive features of each fair. Retired Illinois teacher Jim Kopel decided to take the more objective approach, and spent more than 10 years on his quest to find the best state fairs.
Texans are known for claiming that everything in Texas is bigger than anywhere else in the country. As it turns out, they are right – at least when it comes to their state fair. The Lone Star State boasts the largest state fair in the country with more than 75 thrill rides each year, like the 212-foot ferris wheel or the 1,800-foot long gondola. The rides at this state fair just might be the biggest you can find anywhere so we had to include it in our list of the best state fairs.
The North Star State earns an A+ for its many educational exhibits. Just when we thought the fair was all about cotton candy and overpriced amusements, Minnesota had to go and make it educational too. Kids delight to watch live animal births at the Miracle of Birth Center where about 200 animals are born each year. In any case, this exhibit is sure to be more informative about the “birds and the bees” than a lot of sources kids might browse these days.
Which state fair features the most wineries? You are forgiven if you guessed California, but it is actually the New York State fair. Adult fairgoers in The Empire State not only have a chance to learn about the state’s many vineyards, but they can also taste test a variety of wines at bargain prices.
The summer may be short in The Last Frontier, but the Alaska state fair is home to some ridiculously oversized produce. Carrots that weigh 20 pounds, rutabagas that top 80 pounds, and a pumpkin that would break the suspension in a lot of light pickup trucks at more than 1,100 pounds have all been shown at the Alaska state fair. How can they grow anything this big in Alaska? Residents can thank the 18-hour sunny days during the short summer.
The Hawkeye State is known for having a state fair with about 200 concession stands. The trouble with visiting this state fair will probably be deciding which fair delicacy to try since you will never be able to try them all. Culinary options range from a salad on a skewer to a hot dog shaped like an octopus. Whether you want to eat a salad on a stick or an octopus-shaped hot dog is not important – it’s just that you can.