The end of summer in the USA is marked by the annual arrival of county and state fairs.
Attendees can find a variety of attractions from animal shows to carnival games to exciting rides to plenty of unique, mouth-watering food.
Fair Fare in Minnesota
While each fair has its own unique offerings, none quite compare to the Minnesota State Fair. Held each year in late August, this fair’s menu is what typically makes headlines. You’ll find the usual fare like sugary-sweet cotton candy and freshly-fried corn dogs, but over the years, food vendors compete through a rigorous judging process to introduce new, crazy creations.
Among the 500 different types of food, this year will bring a “pizzarito” (a burrito filled with pizza fixings) and Memphis “totchos” (tater tots with sliced banana and peanut butter sauce) to the list of fair food.
Memphis “totchos” at the Minnesota State Fair
Fairs in the USA
Elkanah Watson became known as the “Father of U.S. agricultural fairs” when he created an competitive cattle even in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1811. In 1841, Syracuse, New York held the first fair as we know them today complete with corn dogs and fried butter.
The Minnesota State Fair was established in 1859, a year after Minnesota was granted statehood in the U.S. The fair found a permanent home in Falcon Heights, 14 kilometers outside of Minneapolis, in 1885.
Though food is a central part of the fair today, there’s plenty more to see and experience. Learn about U.S. agriculture and livestock through the many different exhibitions on display from Future Farmers of America and 4-H clubs among others. Climb into the driver’s seat on Machinery Hill farming equipment such as tractors, plows and combines to learn about farming practices unique to the USA.
If you’re in for a thrill, make sure to go down the Giant Slide, a 15-meter tall, fiberglass slide. Head up the Sky Tower for views of the Minneapolis metro area, or steal a kiss in the fair's oldest ride, Ye Old Mill, a tunnel-of-love ride, which opened in 1915. Or, if you're up for a challenge, try your hand at the carnival games for a chance to win a prize.
Attendees have their pick in entertainment throughout the 10-day event: Stages are set up throughout the fairgrounds for free concerts and shows, and tickets are available for headline acts at the Grandstand Concert Series.
The Minnesota State Fair
Other Fairs Not to Miss
Minnesota hosts the second most-attended fair in the U.S. with some 1.9 million visitors a year. The State Fair of Texas in Dallas sees more than 3.5 million visitors over three weeks, from late September through October.
Other big U.S. fairs include the Big E every September, which is hosted by the Northeastern states in West Springfield, Massachusetts; the Tulsa State Fair in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from late September into October; and the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, during August. Don’t miss Iowa’s famous butter cow!
For more fair food experiences, check out other Midwestern fairs that take place throughout the summer in the USA.
The Great Big Wheel at the Minnesota State Fair