Every summer and fall, state and county fairs like the Minnesota State Fair are held across the United States. These fairs began as a way to promote agriculture and animal husbandry through exhibitions and competitions. Showcases and competitions involving animals and crops are still the foundation of these fairs, but they are so much more than that. They are sources of recreation and entertainment packed with food, carnival games and rides, concerts, and competitions for arts, crafts, and foods.
As a kid in the US, going to the county or state fair is a pretty exciting time. You get to eat junk food, see cute and cool animals, ride exciting rides, and play games to win colorful prizes. They are always a feast for all your senses.
These fairs run from a few days to a few weeks long. The difference between county and state fairs is generally the scale of the fair, with state fairs being much bigger than county fairs.
Minnesota State Fair
Huge fairgrounds and many visitors
The best cheese curds (fried cheese) I’ve ever had & a great elephant ear (fried dough coated in cinnamon sugar)
Some food stalls, including all-you-can-drink milk and fried pie
Food both fried and on a stick from the International Bazaar
Some of the stalls are so popular that they only produce one food item. Case in point: Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar. They have an army of employees to continually pump out and sell chocolate chip cookies. That’s it. No other types of cookies. Just chocolate chip cookies and milk, coffee, and water, if you need a drink to go with your mound of cookies.
I do mean literal mound of cookies. I split a cone of these wonderful cookies with my friends, but you can also purchase a bucket of cookies. Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar even has multiple stalls around the fairgrounds for all your cookie cravings.
An abundance of chocolate chip cookies
One of the Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar stalls
Then there are Pronto Pups, which are a classic Minnesota State Fair food, with over half a dozen stalls across the fair. Pronto Pups are corn dogs that are made with pancake batter, as well as cornmeal. I didn’t get the chance to try one, but they must be famous for a reason!
If you want to eat something a bit atypical in American cuisine, you can try alligator served up a few ways.
For the adults looking for something a bit boozy, the Minnesota State Fair also features a number of beers, ciders, alcoholic slushies, and cocktails across the ground. Many of them are only available at the fair, so try them while you have the chance![For more food: amazing Asian restaurants in London]
In addition to eating scrumptious food, you can see an assortment of animals at state and county fairs in the United States. This means all kinds of livestock like cattle, horses, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas.
You can also peruse a huge variety of poultry, including chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigeons, and often quails, peafowl, and/or guineafowl. I always specifically love to see the fancy roosters and pigeons at fairs.
Poultry at the Minnesota State Fair
Fluffy rabbit friend
Baby animals at the Miracle of Life Center
A very pregnant sheep
Fair Rides and Games
Some of the rides at the fair
If you are able to stay at the fair from the day to the night, I would definitely recommend it! The fair looks very different in the daylight versus when the sun goes down. The vibrant colors that light up the fairgrounds in the evening are one of my favorite parts of fairs.
The giant slide, day and night
Here are some photos of the fair at night from a gondola. The windows were kind of dirty and foggy, making these photos not the best. But you can still get an idea of the views from gondolas and chairlifts.
Food stalls and rides from above
Some plant arrangements with an underwater theme
You can also see award-winning fruits and vegetables; flowers; baked goods like cakes, pies, and cookies; and canned goods. Even if you aren’t especially into flowers, crafts, baked goods, et cetera, the showcases really are worth a quick walkthrough because they can be quite impressive.
Some cool flowers on display
A garden kaleidoscope
If you are a tourist in the United State and you have the chance the visit the Minnesota State Fair, or any state or county fair, you should definitely! While you will most likely have to pay for admission and any food, games, and rides you want to partake in, these fairs are a quintessential American experience you don’t want to miss.