State Fairs Often Provide the Best in Family Travel Destinations
Throughout our State Fairs Guide, we recommend the best state fairs our great country has to offer. State Fairs are fast becoming the most popular and oftentimes the best in family travel destinations. Car travel, or in our lingo, road trips, are becoming more popular despite the rising cost of gasoline. Road trips bring the family back together. They get us talking again. And one of the great charms of our nation can be found along the back roads where the state fairgrounds are. Even if some of them offer the same animals or amusements, they are all different because each reflects the culture, history and nuances of the region. We begin with the Minnesota, West Virginia and Wisconsin state fairs.
Fun Facts about the Minnesota, West Virginia and Wisconsin State Fairs:
- On average, visitors consume 500,000 corndogs at the Minnesota state fair each year;
- The oldest ride at the Minnesota State Fair is Ye Old Mill, constructed in 1913;
- West Virginia is the only state that can grow any type of pepper and leads the nation in percentage of family-owned farms;
- The first Wisconsin State Fair, held in Janesville in 1851, drew 8,000-12,000 people. Admission price was 10 cents.
Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota offers this memory of the fair: “State fairs have been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. We weren’t amongst those that brought cattle, horses or sheep to the fair. But, since we’re a competitive bunch, we did find a niche. I remember that some family members entered baked goods into the competitions and that they fared quite well. Drooling over more than a dozen varieties of cakes and pies was half the fun of going to the competition! The other half of the fun was winning.”
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the other amusements and food offerings that attract young and old to the state fair, i.e., elephant ears, caramel apples, the Ferris wheel, demolition derbies and calf roping. Visiting the barns and running your hands across a goat’s fuzzy head, petting a cow and laughing at the squawking chickens – great fun for the kids. Still want to learn some more fun facts about state fairs? Read what we have to say about recipe winners and celebrity fair-goers.
Family Vacation Idea: Visit the Minnesota State Fair with Anthony Pierpont.
If you’re looking for inexpensive family vacation ideas, consider the Minnesota State Fair. Since 1859, the Minnesota State Fair has been an ever-growing attraction with close to 2 million people passing through its gates. It’s a great place to go when you’re traveling with kids because it overloads the senses with fun and games, feeds them and tires them out:
- The State Fair Mall Parade travels several blocks each day;
- A variety of well-known musicians play at the Minnesota State Fair ever year;
- Enjoy a petting zoo, the Miracle of Birth Center, 4-H livestock competitions, a horse show and fine arts displays;
- Enjoy the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the MN State Fair who perform as part of the bull riding show;
- Located in St. Paul, the Minnesota State Fair runs from the end of August through Labor Day. Over 1.7 million people attend each year making it the second most attended state fairing the country behind the State Fair of Texas.
Family Vacation Idea: The Sporting State Fair of West Virginia by Tim Westerley of Charleston, West Virginia.
“Our family looks forward to the state fair all year long,” says Tim. “It’s a great place to visit and a tradition I’m glad to share with my family.” Visit the State Fair of West Virginia during your next road trip- it’s a great idea for a stop during your East Coast family vacation.
- The State Fair of West Virginia Blue Ribbon Days and Nights begins in the second week of August;
- This fair highlights a number of sporting events. Harness racing, a draft horse pulling contest and an antique tractor pull are just a few of the highlights;
- Horses that don’t usually race will run in the farmer’s races, and they’re raced by their owners, regardless of owner age. Bring your camera or video cam – is typically a hoot!
- Traveling with kids? The focus is on family fun at the State Fair of West Virginia, with a sea lion splash, open air circus and a kids’ day circus, too;
- The recipe challenge allows the competition winner to sell food form their winning recipe to the local grocery stores;
- 4-H activities (West Virginia has the largest percentage of family-owned farms in the nation), arts, crafts and music round out the annual spectacle that is the State Fair of West Virginia.
Shopping, Non-stop Entertainment and Plenty of Good Food: The Wisconsin State Fair by Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota.
“When you’re traveling with kids, the state fair is the perfect place to stop and while away an afternoon,” says Anthony. “There’s plenty for kids to do at the fair, including games, rides and looking at the animals, so the kids stay interested all day long.”
- Beginning in August, the Wisconsin State Fair features 30 free stages with local and nationally known entertainment.
- The fair started more than 150 years ago in 1851 when Millard Fillmore was President of the United States and has grown in size to more than 860,000 attendees each year;
- Close to 700 exhibitors display their photography, quilting and baked goods in the historic Horticulture Department;
- More than 1500 classes of vibrant flowers and fresh vegetables will be on display;
- The Wisconsin State Fair is located in West Allis, Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee at the Wisconsin State Fair Park.
We thank our contributors:
- Anthony Pierpont St. Paul, Minnesota
- Tim Westerley Charleston, West Virginia