12 State Fairs Worthy of a Family Road Trip

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    Celebrations of Americana

    Big Tex - Texas State Fair
    Texas State Fair

    For millions of Americans, attending a state fair is as much a summertime (or sometimes fall) tradition as cookouts, baseball, and July 4th fireworks. Blending agricultural competitions and local food with carnival-style rides and live entertainment, these celebrations of Americana offer families plenty of wallet-friendly fun.

    The best part? Even if you miss your own state's fair, you can visit another. So bring on the corn dogs, pig races, and carnival rides.

    Click through for 12 of the best-attended state fairs in the land.

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    California State Fair: July 14-30, 2017

    California State Fair

    Last year attendance topped a half million visitors at the California State Fair in Sacramento, where your kids will want to make a beeline for the amusement rides at the traditional Magnificent Midway. The Golden State lives up to its name as America's garden basket with food stalls that sell everything from ballpark hot dogs and deep-friend Twinkies to churros and spicy Mexican dishes. There are livestock exhibits, music concerts, and a slew of sporting events, including horse racing, splash dogs, rugby, Mexican rodeo, and even drone racing.

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    Ohio State Fair: July 26-Aug. 6, 2017

    Pig Races - Ohio State Fair
    Ohio State Fair

    With over 900,000 visitors last year, the Ohio State Fair ranks among the larger state fairs in the country. There are all kinds of agricultural events (think pig races and pony rides) and live entertainment acts ranging from magicians, comedians, ventriloquists, organists and roving jazz bands. Ohio's fair has an especially huge array of rides, with 60 big-kid and teen thrill rides and 30 tamer rides in the kiddie section. Previous musical headliners include Reba McIntyre, Meghan Trainor and Patti LaBelle.

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    Wisconsin State Fair: Aug. 3-13, 2017

    Original Cream Puff - Wisconsin State Fair
    Wisconsin State Fair

    With over a million visitors each year, this is another of the largest state fairs in the Midwest. If you do one thing at the Wisconsin State Fair, let it be to treat yourself to one the famous Original Cream Puffs sold by fair confectioners. A fair staple since 1924, these iconic puffs are gobbled down by the hundreds of thousands every summer. As you would expect in this farm-dotted state, you'll find plenty of delicious food and agriculture skills on display, as well as top music acts and over four dozen rides at the SpinCity section of the fairgrounds. 

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    Indiana State Fair: Aug. 4-20, 2017

    Indiana State Fair
    deanaarcher/Flickr Creative Commons

    The Indiana State Fair draws over 700,000 visitors a year, putting it in the top 10 for attendance. Midway highlights include a Ferris wheel and log flume, and there's an extensive kiddie section and a Family Fun park with go-karts and pony rides. Along with the ubiquitious agricultural exhibits and myriad snack possibilities, there's endless entertainment, from tractor pulls and jousting knights (really!) to a demolition derby, Wild West show and rodeo. 

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    Iowa State Fair: Aug. 10-20, 2017

    Iowa State Fair
    Iowa State Fair

    With a million visitors every summer, the Iowa State Fair is yet another megapopular Midwest summerfest. Along with Midway rides and an endless array of delicious treats, there's a satisfying line-up of quirky attractions, too, from the crowd-pleasing giant Des Moines Butter Cow sculpture to chainsaw artists and outhouse races. Previous musical headliners include Meghan Trainor and The Fray.

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    Kentucky State Fair: Aug. 17-27, 2017

    Kentucky State Fair
    The Pug Father/Flickr Creative Commons

    Drawing about 600,000 visitors to Louisville every summer, the Kentucky State Fair is a smorgasbord of rides, livestock shows, cooking contests, farm-to-table fare, home brews of the Bluegrass State, and equestrian events. Previous concert line-ups have been headed by Meghan Trainor and Aretha Franklin.

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    Great New York State Fair: Aug. 23-Sept. 4, 2017

    Great New York State Fair
    Great New York State Fair

    Taking place in Syracuse every August, the 12-day Great New York State Fair has been held every year since 1841, making it the country's oldest state fair. It's also one of the country's best-attended, drawing about a million visitors annually. There's a huge variety of entertainment on hand, ranging from classic Midway attractions and agricultural competitions to chart-topping musical acts and technology demonstrations. 

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    Minnesota State Fair: Aug. 24-Sept. 4, 2017

    Minnesota State Fair
    Minnesota State Fair

    Drawing over 1.9 million visitors in 2016, the Midwest's largest—and the country's second largest—state fair takes place each year between St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Minnesota State Fair is a sprawling affair of livestock exhibits, 300 food stalls and over 60 rides split between the Midway and Kidway. The Grandstand Concert Series headliners have included Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and who else but Meghan Trainor.

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    Oregon State Fair: Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2017

    Oregon State Fair
    Oregon State Fair

    With the tagline "crazy fun since day one," the Oregon State Fair is a celebration of Oregon produce, offering an eclectic mix of livestock competitions, horse and dog shows, live entertainment, museum exhibits, art shows, food stalls, and farmer's markets, as well as a variety of carnival rides and amusements. 

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    The Big E: Sept. 15-Oct. 1, 2017

    The Big E State Fair
    The Big E

    Billed as "New England's Great State Fair," the Big E is a regional fair for all six of the New England states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. The "E" stands for Eastern States Exposition and it is indeed big, attracting nearly 1.5 million visitors a year and ranking as the fifth largest state fair in America.

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    Texas State Fair: Sept. 29-Oct. 22, 2017

    Big Tex - Texas State Fair
    Texas State Fair

    They say that everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, and that also applies to Texas State Fair, where attendance topped three million last year. Music fans flock to the iconic Chevy Main Stage, which hosts around 100 live acts during the fair's 24-day schedule. In past years, headliners have included Miranda Lambert and Mary J. Blige. Must-do experiences include a photo op with the iconic Big Tex statue, riding the 212-foot Ferris wheel, and sampling an endless array of BBQ, fried chicken, and chilis at the ever-popular Texan cook-off.

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    Arizona State Fair: Oct. 6-Oct. 29, 2017

    Arizona State Fair
    Arizona State Fair

    Organizers wisely wait until cooler fall temperatures arrive to hold the Arizona State Fair, which draws about 1.2 million visitors to Phoenix. Dating back to 1884, this fair has grown into a huge 23-day celebration of the Southwestern culture. Amid the ubiquitous livestock and produce competitions, you'll also find over 100 food stalls, 65 rides (including about a dozen extreme thrill rides), an extensive petting zoo, and big-name musical acts.

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