Giddy-Up: State Fairs You Need to See This Year
The Arizona State Fair. (Photo: Jillian Danielson)
By Zachary Laks
Year after year, every state in the nation celebrates its local commerce, culture, and cuisine at state fairs, where indulgent foods are offered alongside thrill rides and competitions. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these are small affairs; more than 170 years after the first state fair in Syracuse, New York, going to one remains an annual tradition for millions of Americans. From Texas to Wisconsin, and North Carolina to Oklahoma, here’s where you’ll find the biggest and best state fairs in the U.S.
Arizona State Fair
When: October 10–November 2, 2014
Agriculture and the arts come together on the fairgrounds of Encanto Village outside of Phoenix for the annual Arizona State Fair. A staple of the fair, frybread (a deep-fried plate of dough) is served from many stalls, each with its own spin on the Arizona classic. If you’re up for trying more varieties of deep-fried dough, check out the famous red velvet funnel cake. The Thunderbird Model Railroad Club sets up a miniature train track that runs more than 1,200 feet. Watch as the motorized locomotives speed around the scaled town, then head over to a different kind of race at the Great American Duck Races, where Mallards zoom along the water.
(Courtesy of Indiana State Fair)
Indiana State Fair
When: August 1–17, 2014
The Indiana State Fair features incredible headlining attractions that change daily at its grandstand. Starting with a hot air balloon launch on the first day, the fair also hosts monster truck demonstrations, extreme biking, harness racing, and a demolition derby. This year sees one of the best line-ups of musical acts in the country, with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Robin Thicke, Phillip Phillips, and Pitbull all slated to perform. The first annual Indiana Beer and Wine Exhibition brings alcohol back to the fair for the first time since 1946, with an area set up for free wine and beer from local establishments.
Insider Tip: The Indiana State Fair offers itineraries for those seeking to get the most out of their time. Published a week before the fair, these guides are most helpful in managing the large fairground.