*Sniff. Sniff.* Do you smell that? Something’s frying and it smells so good! Could it be a corn dog? Maybe an elephant ear? We could sure go for some cotton candy, too. Where are we? The state fair, of course!

Every year all across the nation, millions of people head to their local state fair to see prize-winning animals, enjoy thrilling amusement park rides, and eat some of the best fried food you’ll ever get on a stick!

State fairs are like giant versions of local city and county fairs. They got their start as competitions for exhibiting livestock. Over time, though, they grew into much, much more.

Today, state fairs include the traditional livestock, craft, and cooking competitions. But they also usually feature amusement park rides, games, concerts, races, and food vendors that can put just about anything you can think of on a stick and deep fry it.

State fairs have been around a long, long time. Way back in 1807, Elkanah Watson, known as the father of agricultural fairs, exhibited his sheep in the public square in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Years later, the nation’s first state fair took place in Syracuse, New York, in 1841.

Since that time, state fairs have become an annual tradition all around the country. State fairs draw millions of visitors every year. The Texas State Fair claims the title of largest state fair with about three million visitors every year. Minnesota doesn’t do too bad either, drawing an average of 150,000 people per day, for the largest average per day attendance for a state fair.

Have you ever been to a state fair? If you have, did you get the chance to eat something delicious? The word “fair” comes from the Latin word feriae, which means “feast.” It’s no wonder then that fairs are famous for their food!

You’ll find traditional favorites, such as corn dogs and cotton candy, at all state fairs. Vendors at larger fairs go out of their way to come up with all sorts of unheard-of concoctions, most of which are deep fried and on a stick. Some of the more unusual things you’re likely come across include deep-fried bubble gum, candy bars, and alligator!

44 Join the Discussion

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    • Thanks for sharing your comment and your guess, Wonder Friend Steph! We hope you can visit your state or county fair the next time it comes to town– what a fun event! :)

    • How neat, Betsy! We’re so glad you’ve visited your county fair, and you have even visited your friends’ booths! What a fun event to attend? Did your friends’ animals win any awards or ribbons? :)

    • HOORAY, we’re so glad to hear that, Shantal! Thank you for sharing your comment about the Wonder video! Doesn’t a state fair seem like a great event to attend? :)

  1. Dear wonderopolis the video makes me feel like going to the fair. You should also make a wonder of where do birds go when a tornado happens.

    • Thanks for telling us how you felt after WONDERing with us, Maria! We hope you can visit your state or county fair this year! Thanks for sharing your comment and suggesting a Wonder, too! :)

    • We hope you can visit your state or country fair soon, Jaya! What a fun event to attend! Some of us here at Wonderopolis have attended state fairs in the past– they really enjoyed the animals and the food! We are glad you have been guessing and using your imagination for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! :)

    • Thank you for sharing your comment, Joseph! We are always looking for awesome new Wonders, and we are glad you shared your suggestion! Have you read the book, Wonder, by chance? :)

    • Oh no, Wonder Friend ACT! We hope you felt better shortly after the fair– there is a lot of food to choose from, so sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs! Thank you for sharing your comment and connection to this Wonder! :)

    • HOORAY, all in favor of the state fair say “I”! “I” from Wonderopolis! Thanks for sharing your comment, Michele! We are so glad you visited us today! :)

  2. Comments, and Questions

    What is the White House in the video that they are making made out of? I really hope I can go to a state fair. I would feel bad for somone that has not gone to a state fair. I liked how in the topic sentence you started with a onomatopoeia. [I don’t know how to spell that.]

    • What an excellent question, AH! We think that White House was made of butter, or perhaps cheese! Can you imagine how long that would take?! We are so glad you shared your awesome comment, and we cannot wait to Wonder with you again soon! Sniff sniff! You’re right, AH, we started with an onomatopoeia! :)

  3. I love going to the state fair it’s very fun and thanks for putting this video for everyone to watch.

    • How cool, Kristal! We’re glad you’ve been to your very own state fair and we look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! We Wonder if you have a favorite event at the state fair? :)

  4. I have only been to local and county fairs. They were A LOT of fun though. I love the food and the rides.

    • Thanks for telling us all about your very own experiences at the county fair, Sam! We Wonder if you have a favorite fair food? :)

    • We are so glad you shared your comment with us, Kristal! Thanks for visiting us to Wonder about the awesome state fair– many of our Wonder Friends have attended a state or county fair in the past, and we hope to go again soon! Have you visited your state fair, Kristal? :)

    Yasmine – I wish I could go to a State Fair but we don’t know when it comes to town.
    Alan – Why don’t you seem to answer our questions when we ask questions?
    Ke’Shawn – Have you ever been to a State Fair?

    Rachel – I went to a fair.
    Joey – I have been to the fair a lot of times and I have been to King’s Island.
    Kayla – I have been to the fair before.

    Damon – Delivering gifts for my birthday?
    Eriana – Is it about all businesses?
    Phebe – How to own a business?

    • Good afternoon, Mrs. Liles’ Class! We are happy you’re here today, and we love your thoughts, questions, connections and predictions! We are so lucky to have awesome Wonder Friends (just like you) who share their comments with us everyday! Sometimes it’s tough to answer every single question, but we also know that our Wonder Friends are smart and awesome, so we hope you’ll do some research of your own to answer your very own questions! :)

      Yasmine, Alan and Ke’Shawn: we hope you can visit your very own State Fair when it comes to town. Perhaps you can form a group of people to keep an eye and ear out for advertisements and information about it! :)

      Rachel, Joey, and Kayla: perhaps you can let your Wonder Classmates know when you’re heading to the State Fair! What a fun way to Wonder together! We hope you have all had a great time! :)

      Damon, Eriana, and Phebe: SUPER guesses! Remember: you can do anything you set your mind to! :)

  6. I live in the great state of Wisconsin and just about everything at our state fair is deep fried and on a stick. Deep- fried butter anyone???? Would you prefer a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich???

    • You’ve got us chuckling today, Katrina! We agree, the Wisconsin State Fair is a very cool (and butter-y) place to be! Perhaps you can pick up an elephant ear or some delicious fried cheese curds for us!? However, that peanut butter and jelly sandwich does sound quite interesting! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment today! :)

  7. Yes I have read wonder with my class and I have the book it about a boy name August right. If right I read it already.

    • Hey there, Joseph! You’re right on track, Wonder is a great book! The main character, August, is a SUPER awesome kid! We think he’s a WONDERfully strong student! :)

    • We’re so happy that you could check out the State Fair in Detroit, Jake! We Wonder if you have a favorite booth or memory from the Detroit fair? :)

  8. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any means you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks!

    • Hey there, Tiffany! We will certainly find a way to remove you from that service, we wouldn’t want to overload you with emails! Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Tiffany! :)

  9. Henry likes the mini donuts at the fair, because they are yummy. Mrs. LaLonde’s favorite fair food is chocolate covered bacon. Hannah likes cotton candy.

    We learned that fair is Latin and it means feast. Have you been to the fair? What is your favorite food?

    • Those sure do sound like some tasty treats- we wish the state fair came around more often, Wonder Friends! Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Mrs. LaLonde’s Class, we really enjoyed learning about all sorts of cool things one might find at the state fair. We like thinking about our own states and how they differ from others. What makes them unique? What makes them similar?

      Some of us here at Wonderopolis have visited the state fair in Wisconsin and they tried cheese curds! If you like cheese, you will probably enjoy cheese curds! :) We like sweet treats, but we don’t want to upset our stomachs with too much fair food, so we like to treat ourselves to those chocolate covered bananas! :)

  10. I might volunteer at my State Fair. I am also planning on making a small backyard roller coaster and donating it to a local playground.

    • It sounds like you are going to be very busy this summer, Graham! We LOVE that you are WONDERing about and visiting all the Wonders associated with things you are going to do this summer. All the comments you leave are AMAZING! We think you ROCK! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Have you ever been to a state fair?
  • Which state holds the largest state fair?
  • Can you cook fair foods at home?

Wonder Gallery

944Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Are you ready to go to the fair? Keep the learning moving along as you explore one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • When is the state fair where you live? Ask a friend or family member to help you do some Internet research to learn more about your state fair and when the next one will take place. Then make plans to go! Depending upon where you live, you may be within easy driving distance of state fairs in other states, too. Be sure to check out when other fairs might be going on and plan to attend more than one if you can!
  • Can’t get to a state fair anytime soon? Create your own fair in your backyard! If you have a pet, you can have your own livestock show. With a little imagination, you can set up some carnival games, too. And what about rides? Can you creatively think of some rides you could set up? If you have a bicycle or a scooter, that’s a good start! Maybe you have a play set with swings that could serve as a ride, too. Have a great time setting up your own homemade fair at home!
  • After playing fair for a while, you’re bound to get hungry. Just because you can’t get to the fair doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some fair food. Try one or more of these fair food recipes at home:

Still Wondering

See potential energy convert to kinetic energy in the Energy in a Roller Coaster Ride interactive activity from Teacher’s Domain that shows a roller coaster in action.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is all business!

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