Welcome back to part two of our blog on the American State Fair and its rich history that dates back right to the early 1800’s. It is impossible to actually pinpoint where the first fair was held, or who was responsible for arranging it, as so many contenders have thrown their hat into the ring to claim the plaudits.
One theory is that it was a New England farmer who was so proud of his Merino sheep that he used to often take them to town to parade them on the street. This farmer was called Elkanah Watson and with the encouragement from his neighbors, he branched out to arrange a cattle show; and from these humble beginnings, the state fair was born.
It is not certain if this was the foundation of the modern-day state fairs but it certainly is a plausible story and could be true. What is certain is that in 1832, a group of politicians and farmers joined together to form the Berkshire Agricultural Society, one of their first tasks was to arrange annual agricultural celebrations. Today it is pretty clear how much America’s industrialization has changed the state fair, and what now the general public expect from a state fair when they visit. No self-acclaimed state fair would now be complete without amusement rides, carnival rides, car and bike show and beauty pageants.
State fairs are now unstoppable, they have woven their way into the very fabric of American society and embrace a timeless aesthetic that brings back millions of happy visitors each fall and summer. Check out some of the best state fairs that are currently held in the U.S.
Minnesota State Fair
This fair has been running for over a century and a half, and today one of the main attractions of Minnesota State Fair is the fair food. This year, over one hundred and fifty thousand visitors are expected through the gates of the fair, looking forward to the Midwest delivering some of the finest dishes from around the region. Some of the great local Midwest cuisine you can expect will be: French cheese and onion money bread, candied bacon donuts, and paneer on a spit. Minnesota is also a famous fair for the grandstand and the top bands that regularly perform. So far in the recent past, the acts have included Demi Lovato, Weezer, Nick Jonas and Dixie Chicks.
Iowa State Fair
Held down in Des Moines, the state fair has been a regular attraction since 1878. Iowa State Fair is also famous for its food, and every year the food vendors try and create something new and innovative. This coming year, fair-goers can expect the five buck cup which is a combination of baked beans, shredded BBQ pork, mashed potatoes and cheese! For a unique experience, make your way to the Ugliest Cake competition, the ingredients and contents of these atrocious entries make stray dogs turn up their noses at. In part three of the history of the American state fair, we travel across America to see even more great fairs.