A stately vacation — destination: State Fair
—————————————- Summer, 2012
“World of Wonders Palace of Illusions” and the “Stratosphere” are among the 2012 Minnesota State Fair Midway attractions. “World of Wonders” revisits days of carnival sideshows and spectacles like sword swallowers and escape artists. The “Stratosphere” is a new carnival ride attraction that straps riders into gondolas atop a 190-ft. tower. Riders may get a thrill as they spin high above the Fairgrounds.
The Fairgrounds host 320 acres that include the Midway, exhibit halls, agricultural buildings and arenas — all primed to educate, engage, and entertain visitors.
Almost every state in the United States hosts an annual fair; a few have annual regional fairs. All celebrate traditions that go back decades, and some over a century. Each fair offers individual flavor, signature to its hosting state.
Pick a State Fair to visit, perhaps the one in the state you reside, or one that’s the host state to your favorite city.
The Minnesota State Fair is my home-state State Fair, so it’s my base while recommending state fairs as a destination. It’s the largest 12-day event in North America, the second largest State Fair in the country. Over a million and a half folks visit it annually. It’s the second largest to the State Fair of Texas, that has and estimated three million attendees over 24 days.
Tradition — Competition
State fairs host hearty competitions. Most include agriculture, livestock competitions
and horse shows. The Minnesota State Fair competitions also include gardening, crafts, baking and canning. Fair visitors may peruse exhibition halls to see county champions’ gardening and craft exhibits, now competing for top State prize. As for animals, fair-goers may visit prized horses and livestock during “barn hours” and witness the judging at given times and stages or arenas.
The California State Fair includes Wine and Beer making competitions. The South Carolina State Fair includes fine arts competitions. The Oregon State Fair competitions include a Grill Off, Photography and Homebrew. The Kansas State Fair has Auction Calling Contests.
All competitions offer Fair-goers an element of witnessing the contenders and their entries, via exhibits, presentations and direct competitions.
The rural/agriculture aspect — then and now
Agriculture was the showcase behind the premier Minnesota State Fair in 1859. This event served as a vessel to show the world this newly-annexed state’s prowess in crops and livestock.
Agriculture remains a prominent aspect of the Minnesota State Fair today. Nowadays, along with competitions, the fair presents educational aspects such as the Miracle of Birth Center, where visitors may behold the being-born or the newborns among chicks, ducks, lambs, calves and bunnies.
Entertainment includes Celebrity contests at one stage, where celebrities compete in the likes of milking contests and wool-packing contests.
New attractions in modern day
While state fairs continue their lines of tradition, they continue to add new aspects. Some fairs showcase car shows or auto races, arm wrestling contests or skateboard lessons.
They oft celebrate per their region, and per the specific year. This year the Indiana State Fair honors the theme Year of the Cow, “in the Hoosier spirit,” with Buttercup as the mascot.
The Minnesota State Fair, in St. Paul, honors its home city 2012 “Pianos on Parade” celebration where artist-decorated pianos are displayed throughout the city. This year, the State Fair will have a piano, on a given stage at given hours, where folks are welcome to pull up a chair and play.
Destination: State Fair
State fairs tend to last several days because there’s much happening, from the Midway to the Grandstand, from livestock barns to agricultural buildings. Exhibitions, demonstrations, competitions, entertainment. And of course, the flashing lights along the Midway, the music, the lifting, spinning and twirling rides.
State Fairs run at fair-weather times, if you will. For example, the latter part of summer for northern states, October for desert states. The Florida State Fair is in February. The Washington State Fair is in March.
Admission tickets range from approximately $10-20 for adults, under $10 for kids. Each State Fair offers specials like pre-Fair purchase discounts, seasons tickets, Midway ride ticket books and special day discounts.
Plan to spend a day or a few at your State Fair, or one nearby.
—The Minnesota State Fair.
—The Minnesota State Fair “Pianos on Parade.”
—For a list of State Fairs and dates, visit here.