No matter where you live in the country, you will be able to find a state fair filled with a bevy of activities for the whole family. From agricultural exhibits and competitions to rides, carnival games, delicious food booths, arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment and more, state fairs offer fun and excitement and a taste of the state.
Following are just a few of the many state fairs going on this year. Enjoy!
New York State Fair
Aug. 25-Sept. 5
Referred to by some as “the mother of all state fairs,” the New York State Fair began in 1841. And although it bounced around to different locations for a few decades, it eventually found its permanent home in Syracuse. In addition to all of the classic exhibits and activities, there are livestock and horse shows, an antique tractor display, street corner entertainers, a daily parade, a Clydesdale show, bulls and barrels show and the “uniquely New York” butter sculpture, a fair favorite for some three decades. Entertainers this year include Ne-Yo, Sugarland, Maroon 5 and Cee Lo, among others.
(800) 475-FAIR, (315) 487-7711, www.nysfair.org
Alaska State Fair
Aug. 25-Sept. 5
Located just an hour north of Anchorage in the heart of the Chugach Mountains in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, the Alaska State Fair is a true showcase of Alaska’s uniqueness and beauty. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, activities will encompass horse shows, a kid zone with both fun and educational children’s activities, concerts, over 450 vendors, trade shows, carnival rides and, the annual favorite, the agricultural and produce shows and growing contests. Last year, four new state records were set for the largest/longest bean, gourd, pumpkin and gourd vine.
(907) 745-4827, www.alaskastatefair.org/site
Maryland State Fair
Aug. 26-Sept. 5
Held in Timonium, Md. (north of Baltimore), the Maryland State Fair celebrates its 130th anniversary this year. Activities for the entire family include amusement rides, live and simulcast thoroughbred horse racing, home and garden shows, agricultural and farming shows and demonstrations, a military day, computer events, chocolate championships and all the food your heart could desire.
(410) 252-0200, www.marylandstatefair.com
Minnesota State Fair
Aug. 25 through Sept. 5
One of the nation’s largest fairs, the Minnesota State Fair, located midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul, features activities galore such as an international bazaar, concert series, eco-experiences, fine arts competitions, horse shows, Adventure Park, livestock competitions, and ,of course, the Mighty Midway thrill rides, among other activities. Train, Maroon 5, Marc Anthony, Reba McIntyre, Toby Keith and Steely Dan are among the headlining entertainers this year.
(651) 288-4400, www.mnstatefair.org
Eastern States Exposition
Sept. 16-Oct. 2
Affectionately referred to as “The Big E,” the annual Eastern States Exposition is a New England autumn tradition and the ninth largest fair in North America. Held in West Springfield, Mass., participants and guests come from along the Eastern Seaboard as well as throughout the country to enjoy the Big E’s more than 100 events and activities that place special attention on New England history and agriculture. The fair also features animal exhibits and shows, rides, marching bands, shopping, crafts, foods from around the world and Mardi Gras and Grande Mardi Gras Parades with authentic floats designed and built in New Orleans. One of the most popular features is the New England Specialty Food Day, where representatives from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont put their best foot forward, offering a variety of foods grown or produced in New England.
(413) 737-2443, www.thebige.com/ese
The State Fair of Texas
Sept. 30-Oct. 23
Hailed as the nation’s largest state fair with more than 3 million annual attendees, the fair features a wonderful array of exhibits, livestock, music, rides, food and more. This year, celebrity chefs, mobile tours and an auto show, livestock exhibitions, creative arts contests, drum and bugle corp. marching bands and the midway with long-time favorite thrill rides, including the nation’s tallest Ferris wheel, are all part of the fun. Entertainment this year includes K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Randy Travis and La Mafia, among others. Be sure not to miss the Texas Garden Railway train collection, Cirque Shanghai acrobatic troupe and two classic college football games.
(214) 565-9931, www.bigtex.com/sft
Arizona State Fair
Oct. 14-Nov. 6
This year’s Arizona State Fair, held in Phoenix, Ariz., is celebrating its 121st anniversary. The fair features a bevy of events and attractions, while also promising numerous 21st century innovations in technologies for education and entertainment. Some of the highlights include an arm wrestling championship, a 5K and fun run-walk, High School and All Indian Rodeos, oodles of exhibits, the Great American Petting Zoo, Valentine’s Performing Pigs, livestock and smallstock displays and, of course, the ever-popular fair games, vendor booths and culinary offerings.
(602) 252-6771, www.azstatefair.com
Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.