Monday, March 7, 2022

The Biggest State Fairs in the US

 To celebrate the peak of summertime, millions of Americans across the country converge to their local state fairs. While you’ll still find enormous hogs and prize-winning cows, fairs have evolved over the decades, now offering everything from carnival rides and outlandish snacks, to auto conventions and outdoor concerts.

We’ve gathered the five biggest fairs in the country, all of which are worth a visit even if your home state didn’t make the list.

Tulsa State Fair

Fairgoers swinging on just one of many rides at the Tulsa State Fair

Although Oklahoma City hosts an annual fair of its own, the Tulsa State Fair brings in an even bigger crowd, averaging at about 1.15 million visitors a year. What started as a local street festival back in the late 1890’s has boomed into one of the country’s largest. These days, the fairgrounds welcome farmers and city-dwellers alike to enjoy eleven days of summer fun.
To stay close to the action, the fairgrounds have a lot where RVs can park and plug in for the night. No trailer? No worries. The comfy Expo Inn is just as close to the fairground gates.

The Great New York State Fair

The country’s oldest state fair brings in a young, lively crowd

The country’s oldest state fair brings in a young, lively crowd

Even though Syracuse hosted the nation’s first state fair in 1841, this head-start didn’t keep it at first place in terms of attendance. Regardless, 1.2 million annual visitors is nothing to scoff at. The thirteen-day fair brings in both the best of New York City’s food scene and the world’s musical acts, with the Taste NY Food Truck Competition hosting 39 culinary contestants, and a minimum of two concerts a day featuring world-class musical acts.
The name of the Best Western Inn at the Fairgrounds doesn’t lie – this great hotel is right next door to the action. It’s also got a state-of-the-art fitness center to sweat off those fried Oreos.

Eastern States Exposition

Horses and stagecoaches getting ready for the Big E’s festivities. Photo credit: Big E

Horses and stagecoaches getting ready for the Big E’s festivities. Photo credit: Big E

Together the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont host the Eastern States Exposition, or what true New Englanders call The Big E. With six states combining forces, it’s no surprise that this fair attracts about 1.5 million visitors a year to West Springfield, Massachusetts. The Avenue of the States pays homage to the participating states’ histories with replicas of each original statehouse and vendors who share the unique cuisines and artisanal crafts from across New England.
Just a quick drive across the river is Spruceland at Forestpark, which promises easy access to the fairgrounds, plus a decor that’s cozy, rustic, and true to New England’s classic heritage.

Minnesota State Fair

Fairgoers taking the plunge on the Minnesotan classic, the Giant Slide. Photo credit: Minnesota State Fair

Fairgoers taking the plunge on the Minnesotan classic, the Giant Slide. Photo credit: Minnesota State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get-Together boasts the country’s largest daily attendance, but didn’t top our list since the winning state fair runs twice as long. Still, over 2.1 million visitors in just twelve days is pretty impressive. One of the fair’s longest running events is creating a sculpture of the year’s crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way—the winner of a beauty pageant meant to promote the state’s dairy industry—made out of a 90-pound block of butter. Most treats here served come on a stick. You’ll find everything from skewered fried candy bars and corndogs, to alligator, spaghetti, and even hotdish.
The Doubletree by Hilton is nestled in the historic Prospect Park neighborhood, which is only a ten-minute drive to the fairgrounds.

State Fair of Texas

Dancers kicking off the festivities in downtown Dallas. Photo credit: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas

Dancers kicking off the festivities in downtown Dallas. Photo credit: Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas

Naturally, in the state where everything is bigger, the State Fair of Texas lands itself on the top slot of our list. Over twenty-four days, the event draws in about 2.25 million visitors from all across the Lone Star State. The festivities kick off with a huge parade that starts in downtown Dallas then marches all the way to Fair Park. On top of all the carnival rides and decadent treats, visitors can attend the Texas Auto Show as well as collegiate football games hosted at the Cotton Bowl State.
We recommend checking in to the boutique Canvas Hotel, which puts its own stylish twist on classic Texan motifs and offers incredible skyline views from its rooftop bar and pool.

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