17 of the best state fairs in the US, ranked

Gunnar Rathbun/ShutterstockA ferris wheel at the Texas State Fair.
  • There’s nothing like going to a state fair during the summer.
  • Minnesota boasts the second-largest state fair in the US.
  • While New Hampshire’s Deerfield Fair is billed as New England’s oldest fair.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

There is no place more socially acceptable to consume a cheeseburger on a glazed doughnut, a husk of corn, and a deep-fried candy bar – all before 10 a.m. – than a state fair.

As summer draws nearer, so too does state fair season, an archetypal American pastime that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Some of the more impressive fairs in the US. are staggering in size, while others boast mouth-watering cream puffs, educational exhibits, or famous butter sculptures.

With some help from Foursquare’s rankings system, we identified the most brag-worthy state fairs in the country.

17. Florida State Fair

Yes I Shoot models/ShutterstockFlorida State Fair.

Tampa hosts its state’s fair every February, and has been doing so for nearly 115 years. The Florida State Fair features Midway rides, a model train show, an all-breed dog show, and an impressive circus (with rave-worthy lemonade).

16. Kane County Fair

Patricia Szpekowski/Kane County FairRacing pigs at the Kane County Fair.

It may be a county fair, but this dark horse still clears the top 20. Located in Saint Charles, Illinois, Kane County Fair has everything from professional bull riders to racing pigs to a car show.

15. Delaware State Fair

This sprawling state fair offers helicopter rides, a beer and wine garden, a circus, live entertainment, a Giraffe Menagerie Petting Zoo, live harness racing, and more to its thousands of annual attendees. The Giraffe Menagerie Petting Zoo feels especially noteworthy here.

14. Ventura County Fair

Hosted in Ventura, California, this county fair began in 1875 primarily as a horse racing event. Now, nearly 150 years later, the beachside fair includes everything from photography exhibits to delectable garlic fries to rodeos and Grandstand concerts.

13. The Great New York State Fair

Flickr/Joe ShlabotnikThe Great New York State Fair.

This Syracuse fair includes music, entertainment, a food truck competition, and – according to some passionate Foursquare reviewers – wine slushies and giant ladders.

12. The Indiana State Fair

Alexey Stiop/ShutterstockThe Indiana State Fair.

2018’s new foods include BBQ pork potachoes, deep fried sugar cream pie, and inside out grilled cheese. Also new this year at the Indiana State Fair is a Big Top Circus, featuring “three free shows per day.”

11. The Volusia County Fair

This DeLand, Florida county fair is geared towards kids to encourage learning about livestock, agriculture, photography, and more. It also boasts a number of free shows, exhibits, and agriculture events.

10. The Fryeburg Fair

Facebook / Fryeburg FairThe Fryeburg Fair.

Known as one of the best agricultural fairs in the United States, this Maine fair boasts the largest steer and oxen show in the world. It also has wreath-making demonstrations and a popular Skillet Throw, in which women throw a cast iron pan as far as they can.

9. The North Carolina State Fair

N.C. State Fair/FacebookThe North Carolina State Fair.

This fair is both the biggest event in North Carolina and the largest 11-day agriculture event in the country. The North Carolina State Fair draws a million visitors annually, and includes a horse show, livestock show, and a Krispy Kreme cheeseburger.

8. The Iowa State Fair

Business InsiderThe Iowa State Fair.

Come for the now-iconic Butter Cow sculpture. Stay for the live entertainment, Fair Queen competition, and whopping 82 food-on-a-stick options. Known as “America’s classic state fair,” the Iowa State Fair has inspired books, three movies, and a Broadway musical. Casual.

7. The Wisconsin State Fair

Running from August 2 – 12, the Wisconsin State Fair offers a Crazy Grazin’ Day with mini portions of classic fair foods for reduced prices. The fair is also known for its original cream puffs, and sells over 350,000 of the tasty treats each year.

6. The OC Fair

This Costa Mesa fair lasts for 23 days, and includes a Junior Livestock Auction, courtyard wine seminars, carnival rides, and more. Foursquare attendees recommend the chocolate covered bacon, deep fried butter, and fried zucchini.

5. The Deerfield Fair

Facebook / Deerfield FairThe Deerfield Fair.

While only open for a few days each year, the Deerfield Fair is billed as “New England’s oldest family fair.” The New Hampshire fair features musicians, horse shows, performers, and a Miss Deerfield Fair Scholarship Program for high school teens to compete in.

4. The Eastern States Exposition

Mike Mozart/Flickr/Attribution LicenceThe Eastern States Exposition

Known as “New England’s great state fair,” the Eastern States Exposition is held in Springfield, Massachusetts – but celebrates all six New England states. Some of the highlights include its Wine & Cheese Barn and celebrative Avenue of States. The “Big E” also has a signature dessert: the Big E Cream Puff.

3. The San Diego County Fair

Tim Buss / FlickrThe San Diego County Fair

While not a “state fair” per se, with 1.6 million visitors each year, the San Diego County Fair is easily one of the largest county fairs in the country. It has over 4,000 attractions at its scenic seaside location, varying from corn husking contests to gems, and minerals shows. Insiders recommend the turkey legs wrapped in bacon.

2. The State Fair of Texas

Gunnar Rathbun/ShutterstockThe State Fair of Texas

Texas hosts a fair that runs for 24 days, making it the longest-running and largest fair in the nation. Hosted at historical landmark Fair Park, the State Fair of Texas’ theme this year is “Celebrating Texas Innovation.” The fair also features an ever-evolving menu of food, introducing deep fried Froot Loops, and funnel cake bacon queso burgers in 2017.

1. The Minnesota State Fair

Megan Willett/Business InsiderThe Minnesota State Fair.

Minnesota boasts the second-largest state fair in the United States, with nearly 2 million people in attendance in 2017. Not only does the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” cover a sprawling 320 acres, but it delights its visitors with eclectic new foods (like the pizzarito), classic treats (like Sweet Martha’s cookies), and informative experiences like the Miracle of Life barn.

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