With the summer in full swing, it’s time for the county or state fair. Everything from carnival rides and live music to true farm-to-table produce, meat, and homemade pies will be on hand. Here’s a look at some of this year’s most interesting fairs.
Iowa State Fair
Every county or state fair wants to showcase its region. In Iowa, it’s all about butter. We’re not just talking sticks of butter…but butter sculpting, which is one of the farm’s main attractions. Each year, folks compete to see who can carve the best sculpture out of butter. Some of the past winners were a sculpture of Tiger Woods, John Wayne, Harry Potter and, as recent as 2012, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in honor of the 75th anniversary. But the love of butter does not stop there. Attendees can eat deep fried butter on a stick. One of the most attention-getting attractions is the Iowa State Fair Food On A Stick, where just about any food item can be put on a stick. This includes anything from Caprese Salad to smoothies to the typical corn dog. The Iowa State Fair takes place from August 7 to 17 at the Iowa State Fair Grounds in Des Moines, Iowa.
Orange County Fair, California
The Iowa State Fair isn’t the only fair offering oddities in the area of food. The Orange County Fair takes just about any food imaginable and deep fries it. Here you’ll find everything from pineapple to Oreos to Snickers and Twinkies. Feeling more adventurous? Try the Bacon Wrapped Jack Daniels Churro, Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Turkey Leg, or a Pop Rocks Donut. But there are also a variety of typical county fair foods offered, including funnel cakes, chili cheese fries, and nachos. The Orange County Fair runs from July 11 to August 10 and takes place at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California.
State Fair of Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas and, not to be outdone, the folks at the Texas State Fair can get deep fried bubblegum, Kool-Aid, beer, Coca-Cola, salsa, and yes, Oreos. You’ll also be able to find unique concoctions like Chicken Fried Bacon, French Fry Coated Hot Dogs, a deep fried funnel cake margarita, and deep fried Club Salad. If that’s not bold enough, you could always opt for dishes that make it into the final selection for the Big Tex Choice Awards. Some of the finalists for 2013 were deep fried Spinach Dip Bites, Deep Fried Nutella, Southern Style Chicken-Fried Meatloaf, Texas Fried Fireball, and Fried King Ranch Casserole. The two dishes that won awards were the Deep Fried Cuban Roll for Best Tasting, and Fried Thanksgiving Dinner for Most Creative. The State Fair of Texas takes place at Fair Park in Dallas from September 26 to October 19.
Buffalo County Fair, Nebraska
The Buffalo County Fair has traditional animal competitions like a cat show, dog show, goat judging, as well as rabbit, beef, swine, and poultry showmanship and judging. You’ll also find newer activities such as face painting, cake walks, carnival rides, a balloon lady, and a ventriloquist. But let’s not forget Midnight Bingo, which actually takes place at 7 pm. United Way is sponsoring chute out bull riding, and there’s also a kids’ pedal tractor pull and Cowboy Church on Sunday Morning. The Buffalo County Fair runs from July 22 to 28, at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney, Nebraska.
Denver County Fair, Colorado
In Denver, the legalization of marijuana has been something gathering attention nationwide and, yes, it’s even high profile at the Denver County Fair. Held in a separate area from the rest of the fair, you’ll find marijuana-themed activities for fair-goers, including a joint rolling contest, a “Best Marijuana Plant” competition, and even a Doritos eating contest. The Denver County Fair takes place from August 1 to 3 at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado.
For more information about activities and festivals this summer, check out:
- 4 Can’t-Miss Southern Food Festivals
- Beyond Coachella: 5 Music Festivals Across the U.S.
- Eight Weird & Wacky US Festivals
By Kandice Martellaro for PeterGreenberg.com