US state fairs celebrate a time when the farm was home to much of the population. Today, the farming people of America number only totals about 2 percent of the population and farming itself may be regarded as old-fashioned. In fact the animals and food that come from agriculture are as vital as ever and these top state fairs remind us of that. Millions of Americans will enjoy their local state fair this Labor Day so why not join in the fun;
The Big E, West Springfield, MA – 14-30 September
The six states of New England get together during 17 days each September for the Big E – the Eastern States Exposition, held in Springfield, MA. It celebrates such eastern favorites as potatoes and maple syrup. The Super Circus and the huge traveling midway are big attractions, as is the pride of the fair – its one-of-a-kind cream puffs. When visitors get tired of eating, they can walk along the Avenue of States, which are miniature replicas of all the New England original statehouses.
Arkansas State Fair, Little Rock, AR – 12 – 21 October
For 10 days each October, patrons flock to the Arkansas State Fair held in Little Rock. The entertainment choices seem endless. They include a rodeo and carnival, antique and knife and gun shows, livestock exhibitions, and an endless display of food. This fair offers top musical entertainment, such as a tribute to Pink Floyd and the songs of country western star Kenny Chesney.
Oklahoma State Fair, Oklahoma City, OK – 13 – 23 September
The Oklahoma State Fair, held each September at State Fair Park, boasts a large annual attendance, with about 1 million patrons attending. This 11-day get-together has something for everyone. There are numerous exhibit halls that feature a huge auto show and demonstrations of wine making, both amateur and professional. Two other especially popular events are the horse and livestock shows, a source of great pride in the state, and Disney on Ice, where Disney characters waltz around an enormous rink to the delight of adults and children alike.
Western Washington Fair, Puyallup, WA – 7 – 23 September
The Puyallup Fair is officially known as the Western Washington Fair, is shadowed by Mount Rainier. Among the largest of state fairs in the world, it is held annually for 17 days in September. Started in 1900 with about 20,000 visitors, it is now the largest attraction held each year in the state of Washington. The fair-goers, who number about 1 million, have more than 169 acres to cover as they enjoy the shows, attractions, and food of the West.
Number one in length is the Texas State Fair, held at Dallas Fair Park for 24 days beginning in late September. It is also large in attendance, with some 3 million visitors every year. Each one of them is greeted by a cowboy known as Big Tex. He stands 52 feet tall. Also big is the State Fair Auto Show, which is the largest truck and auto show in the southwest. An eating treat called corny dogs is another favorite, especially at the World Corny Dog Eating Championships. Besides the fair’s impressive light show, visitors get to see superstars such as the Dixie Chicks.
Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, 23 August to 3 September
Many people rate the Minnesota State Fair as the country’s best. Held at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, it attracts over 1.6 million patrons each year beginning in late August and lasting for 12 days. There is something for everyone, from parades and livestock shows to midway rides and pop concerts that generally include big name stars such as the Backstreet Boys. This fair is noted for its most popular exhibit called the Miracle of Birth. Fair-goers visit the nursing sanctuary to view some 200 just-born farm animals and their mothers. Nothing, however, can really compete with the main reason that most fair-goers willingly pay the $10 entrance fee. Simply stated, it’s the food. Minnesota farmers agree; the food gets them every time.
Kentucky State Fair, Louisville, KY
The Kentucky State Fair in Louisville gets a top rating in state fairs and is considered one of the nation’s best. That is largely because it is a showcase for Kentucky’s pride -its horses. The World Championship Horse Show draws people from all over the world. The fair itself has about 600,000 yearly visitors, who enjoy a fear-invoking roller coaster ride, top country music, an alligator show, and a tiger that walks a tightrope.
Ohio State Fair, Ohio Expo Center, Columbus, OH
The Ohio State Fair opens its gates to about 800,000 visitors for 12 days starting in August. The fair, which began back in 1850, is held at the Ohio Exposition Center in Columbus. Over the years, fair-goers were treated to such stars as The Beach Boys, Sonny &nd Cher, and Kenny Rogers. Besides the food, which celebrates Ohio’s production of cheese, oats, eggs, and winter wheat, the Ohio State Fair offers dog shows, wrestling, spelling bees, and two-minute helicopter rides over the grounds.