State Fairs You Need to Visit this Year

From Texas to Minnesota, these unique state fair attractions are too fun to be missed


The best state fairs around the country have more to offer than just rides. You can get your fill of experiences not readily available anywhere else in the country. Photo credit: Ohio State Fair

 

With free concerts, a carnival atmosphere, thrill rides and more deep-fried food than you could ever imagine, the state fair is a cherished highlight of the year–especially in the Midwest where it’s practically an institution. If you’re looking for ideas for this year’s family vacation, here are the state fair attractions you’ve just got to see.


State Fair of Texas: Everything is bigger in Texas, even the state fair


Go big at the State Fair of Texas and go home with a big thumbs up. Photo credit: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas®

It’s no surprise that the biggest state in the country is also responsible for the biggest fair, attendance-wise. Starting the last Friday in September and usually lasting 24 days, the State Fair of Texas takes over the historic Fair Park in Dallas. Besides awesome food like the Doritos Bacon Mozzarella Cheese Stick, the state’s love of Friday night lights reigns supreme with football-themed events. But after taking in the fanfare, brace yourself for the thing you didn’t expect to ever see at a state fair: pig and ostrich races. Yes, you can really watch people race each other on the backs of pigs and ostriches. It’s fun and hilarious, making this one of the best state fairs, as well as the biggest.


Ohio State Fair: I can’t believe it’s butter


From cows to cowboys, the butter sculpture competition is a definite not-to-be-missed attraction at the Ohio State Fair. Photo credit: Ohio State Fair

Get a head start on your best Movember look at the Ohio State Fair. “The Old Familiar Beard and Moustache Competition” has been giving men reason to grow out their facial hair in creative ways for years. But if flocking to Columbus this summer to watch men fight over “waviest beard” isn’t enough, Ohio has another spectacular attraction to gawk at: life-sized butter sculptures. Since 1903, the Buckeye State has been responsible for butter sculptures of Darth Vader, The Liberty Bell, and even a Furby just to keep up with the times.


The Great New York State Fair: Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone!


Get a new perspective at the Great New York State Fair. Photo credit: The Great New York State Fair

It may be the country’s oldest state fair, but The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse is raising the bar as far as thinking outside the box for state fair attractions. Since 2017, the Empire State has hosted the first-ever competition for videos created using cameras on drones. Categories include videos created completely in New York state, landscape movies, non-fiction and even student film projects. So, if you want to see a dramatically new perspective on the state fair, head to New York and check out these films that show what’s up in the air!


Minnesota State Fair: Don’t have a cow man—it’s the miracle of life


Witness the beauty of birth and life at the Miracle Birth Center during the Minnesota State Fair. Photo credit: Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair puts a new spin on the circle of life. The country’s second largest state fair is well-known for a free exhibit called the CHS Miracle of Birth Center where you get to learn about veterinary science while witnessing the birth of hundreds of goats, calves and piglets. Young visitors can also earn their own “Bag of ag” through make-and-take crafts that teach them about the impact of agriculture on everyday life. When you’re done having your fill on the miracles of Mother Nature, there’s always the food court, where you can have things like a “Bacon Flufferbutter” or a “Cheesy Nacho Corn on the Cob.”


Kansas State Fair: Get creative in a real sticky situation


Get your fill of creativity at the Kansas State Fair duct tape design competition. Image credit: Kansas State Fair

Who knew the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson was a place where you could unleash your creativity with a sticky wad of duct tape? For 10 days starting the Friday after Labor Day, the fair hosts a variety of art competitions, including the fine art of wearable duct tape. Creations range from tuxedos and ball gowns to handbags and shoes with each entry judged on workmanship, creativity, appearance and difficulty. If duct tape isn’t your favorite medium, there are more categories to consider such as shoebox dioramas, wheat weaving or junk art.


 

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