Walking around fairgrounds at an annual state fair is incredibly nostalgic. Fairgoers get to hop on the Ferris wheel that only comes around once a year and eat pretty much any fried dessert on a stick you could think of — cream puffs, Oreos, Twinkies, and even sticks of butter. Fair food is the best, and it seems like there are always a million options. Funnel cake and carnival rides are a strangely perfect combination, which is probably why so many families throughout the United States make it a tradition to attend their local county fair each year.
But there are plenty more reasons beyond sweet treats and snacks to head out to a fair near you. Think of livestock competitions, gardening showcases, and even miniature flea markets, all with plenty of activities to see and take part in as you pass by. Most fairs have tons for the kids to take part in too, so you can bring the whole family along for the ride. This year, you'll be able to check out a variety of fairs across the country, all with a smorgasbord of stuff you can do while out and about. And if you have the luxury of traveling to a neighboring state, why not go see what their fair has to offer, too?
Here's our round-up of the best state fairs in America to add to your calendar in 2023.
1. Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul
When: Aug. 24, 2023 - Sept. 4, 2023
This is the largest state fair in the country by daily attendance. They have so many animals onsite too — even llamas and alpacas. Also referred to as "The Great Minnesota Get-Together," this state fair was voted best in the entire country in 2015 by USA Today.
2. The State Fair of Texas in Dallas
When: Sept. 29, 2023 - Oct. 22, 2023
The Texas State Fair has been running every year since 1886, bringing in over two million attendees annually. The fair, considered one of the best in the country, features Big Tex, a giant cowboy sculpture that welcomes attendees to the historic Fair Park. Attend the horse shows or stop by the state fair wine garden between hitting the rides and eating the delicious food.
3. Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis
When: Aug. 3-13, 2023
For $3, you can take a trip down the beloved 200 ft. Giant slide, a fair favorite for 50 years. Explore the park's 200 acres and make sure to pay a visit to the Original Cream Puff Pavilion.
4. Iowa State Fair in Des Moines
When: Aug. 10-20, 2023
The Iowa State Fair dates all the way back to 1854 and currently brings in over a million attendees each year. Stop by the Thrill Zone for some heart-pumping rides if you're in the mood for a little adventure. Participate in the Bill Riley Talent Search or even one of the many food-related competitions.
5. New York State Fair in Syracuse
When: Aug 23 - Sept. 4, 2023
This historic fair dates back to 1841 and is also known as the Great New York State Fair. Food lovers make sure to stop by the Taste NY Food Truck Competition, where 40 different trucks will compete for the most "New York" items. This has become the largest annual event in the entire state as well as the oldest state fair in the country.
6. Ohio State Fair in Columbus
When: July 26 - Aug. 6, 2023
Dating back to the 1850s, the Ohio State Fair is an annual celebration of the people and products of Ohio. They have some seriously unique exhibits including a lumberjack show as well as a Little Farmers educational exhibit for children. You can enjoy camel rides, and the butterfly garden, and watch the Human Cannonball Crusaders fly 40 ft in the air.
7. Arizona State Fair in Phoenix
When: Sept. 22 - Oct. 29, 2023
This state fair features one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the world, La Grande Wheel. It's actually been running since before Arizona was even a state. There's over 75 amusement rides and 110 food booths that draw in over a million visitors each year.
8. North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh
When: Oct. 13-22, 2023
Organized by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there is definitely a focus on the local farms in the community in addition to the carnival rides and exhibits. There are some interesting educational aspects including the Antique Farm Machinery exhibit which features vintage farm tools. There are also poultry, livestock, and domestic rabbit competitions.
9. Florida State Fair in Tampa
When: Feb. 9-20, 2023
The Midway Sky Eye is allegedly America's tallest traveling Ferris Wheel which is an interesting draw at this unique state fair. Pay a visit to Cracker County, the only living history museum in Tampa that will transport you back to the 19th century and make sure to stop by the high dive show and many fried food booths.
10. California State Fair in Sacramento
When: July 14-30, 2023
This 17-day event shows off California's industries and agriculture with a diverse selection of food and entertainment. There are plenty of family friendly activities including rides, fireworks, and animal displays and competitions.
11. Kentucky State Fair in Louisville
When: Aug. 17-27, 2023
AgLand highlights Kentucky farmers and field heritage as well as FFA exhibits. The Texas Roadhouse Concert Series brings in a solid lineup of performers each year including 2022's featured acts — The Oak Ridge Boys, John Michael Montgomery, Trace Adkins and Lee Greenwood.
12. Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis
When: Jul 28, 2022 - Aug. 20, 2023
Visitors can attend the hot air balloon race, high school marching band contest, and enjoy plenty of rides and snacks around The Midway. It's the largest annual event in the state of Indiana, dating all the way back to the 1890s.
13. Hopkinton State Fair in Hopkinton
When: Aug. 31 - Sept. 4, 2023
For over 100 years, the Hopkinton State Fair has been an NH tradition. There are livestock shows, pulling competitions, and even a farmer's market. Not to mention a monster truck show and demolition derby which sound pretty entertaining.
14. The Big E in West Springfield
When: Sept. 15 - Oct. 1, 2023
The largest fair in New England, the Massachusetts State fair features concerts, parades, and just about every kind of food you can imagine. There's a reason The Big E is known as "New England's Great State Fair," representing all six New England states in one of the top five biggest state fairs in the country.
15. Alaska State Fair in Palmer
When: Aug. 18 - Sept. 4, 2023
Ever since the 1930s, Alaska's state fair has featured a record-setting giant vegetables, flower gardens to explore, concerts featuring the likes of LeAnn Rimes and Brothers Osborne, and special exhibits dedicated to Alaskan and Alaska Native culture.
16. The Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg
When: Oct. 1-8, 2023
The biggest state fair in Maine is also the Blue Ribbon Classic Agricultural Fair, dating back to 1851. They have a parade, pig scrambles, and even offer onsite camping.
17. Washington State Fair in Puyallup
When: Sept. 1-24, 2023
The largest attraction in the state of Washington is also one of the top ten biggest in the entire country. Come for the brand new dinosaur exhibit, a little livestock show of miniature animals, and all the delicious food and carnival rides your family could dream of.
18. Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City
When: Sept. 14-24, 2023
Nearly one million people come out to attend this annual state fair that takes place in Oklahoma every September. The horse shows and rodeos make it unforgettable, not to mention the memorable music acts.
19. Colorado State Fair in Pueblo
When: Aug. 25 - Sept. 4, 2023
For 150 years, the CO State Fair has welcomed visitors to its fairgrounds. Their fair features a rodeo, motorsports entertainment, and a horse show. There are even fine arts and small livestock competitions that you can enter.
20. Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City
When: Sept. 7-17, 2023
The fairgrounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the fair itself is Utah's biggest and longest-running event. Enjoy tons of entertainment like the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, The Great American Duck Race, and Wizards Challenge.
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