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Home /Travel / Must Visit Summer Carnivals

Must Visit Summer Carnivals

By Dillon Wallace
Deep-fried state pride

From small town entertainment to big city pride, state fairs have been a summer staple for locals since their inceptions. Think about it, what’s not to love? Live music, crazy competitions, amusement rides, games and all the deep fried goodness you can stomach.

But while you may have some biased pride for your state and its particular festivities, not all fairs are on the same level. So, if you’re looking to tour the best state fairs this summer or just want hometown bragging rights, look no farther than this list of the top ten state fairs in the U.S.


Colorado State Fair – Pueblo, CO

This mountain town state fair was born and raised in 1869 in Pueblo. Since its inception, it’s gone on to be the largest state fair in the entire state boasting everything from its must-see rodeo and highlights of America’s wild west history to livestock shows and more. It’s also in Colorado, so you’re bound to have beautiful weather and plenty of gorgeous backdrop scenery.

Texas State Fair – Dallas, TX

Everything is bigger and better in Texas, right? Well, in the case of state fairs, the lone star state’s slogan might just be correct. With larger-than-life carnival rides and a big enough fried food spread, like deep fried milk and cookies on a stick – even deep fried sweet tea, to satisfy every savory taste bud, The Texas State Fair doesn’t disappoint. So go big or go home!


Kentucky State Fair – Louisville, KY

If there’s one state that’s literally known for its state fair, its Kentucky. With magnificent horse shows, amazing live music performances by some of today’s most popular artists, gourmet chef demonstrations and more, it’s hard to argue the reputation of a fair that clocks approximately half a million attendees every year.

New York State Fair – Syracuse, NY

For the city that never sleeps, how could you expect their state fair to be anything less than eye-opening? With more than a million attendees every year, the Great New York State Fair is host to exciting activities, fun competitions, popular live music, wine and cheese seminars, a celebrity milking contest and more. It’s also the oldest active state fair in the USA, dating all the way back to 1841.


Iowa State Fair – Des Moines, IA

If food on a stick is your thing, then you’re in luck. And if it isn’t, it will be. Iowa’s state fair offers 70 plus varieties of food on a stick. Everything from peanut butter and jelly to different pies. If it’s delicious, chances are strong they’ll put it on a stick. Attendees also get to see the annual life-size butter cow display – 600 pounds of pure Iowa butter, a tradition that dates back more than 100 years.


Alaska State Fair – Palmer, AK

What, Alaska can’t have an awesome state fair? And no, it doesn’t involve a bunch of igloos. But, it does feature some amazing live concerts and stand up artists. In addition to the tunes and laughs, the Alaskan State Fair is home to the giant vegetable competition, including previous winners the near 140-lb. Cabbage and 20-lb. carrot. The bigger the better.


Washington State Fair, WA

Summer in the pacific northwest is what dreams are made of, and the Washington State Fair is like one come true. Boasting over a million attendees every year, the fair constantly hosts some of the largest musical acts and is infamous for its honey butter and raspberry jam scones. Foodies and tunies are right at home here.


Missouri State Fair – Sedalia, MO

Nothing like a little Midwest hospitality to get the state fair charm flowing. From livestock exhibitions and horse races to truck and tractor pulls and bake offs, the Missouri State Fair welcomes the competitive spirit. But it’s not all eye-of-the-tiger action, the free live music and delicious deep-fried delectables play a large role in the entertainment, too. Did someone say deep fried roll?


Wisconsin State Fair – West Allis, WI

Two words: cheese curds. For all the foodies out there, Wisconsin's state fair has all the mouth-watering favorites your taste buds desire. From Caribbean crepes and peanut butter bacon bison burgers (um, yum!)  to deep fried maple bacon cookies (double yum!), and of course, the infamous cheese curds, Wisconsin cuisine is a must. But the grub isn’t all it's got to offer. Attendees can ride the giant slide, Super Nova roller coaster and other must-see attractions. Come for the food, stay for the entertainment.


Minnesota State Fair – St. Paul, MN

Who said your state fair had to be like every other state’s fair? In St. Paul, they do things a little different. From river raft rides and climbing walls to sling shot and turbo bungy, there’s something new and different for the whole family to enjoy. There’s even a nightly laser show choreographed to music as well as actual live music performances from some of the industry’s top performers.

This may only be ⅕ of the country’s state fairs, but if you’re going to go to any state fair this summer … make sure it’s one of the nation’s best. And eat something deep fried, otherwise, you’re just doing it wrong!

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