We really don’t give America’s state fairs the love they deserve. We love them, for sure, but we love them with an irresistible and morbid fascination for carnival ride freak accidents, and for the painstaking sculpture of hundreds of pounds of butter, and also for the food. Even when it comes to that food, we love them for their very specific genre of excellent and disturbing foodstuffs, the most notable of which are Food, But Deep Fried, And On a Stick. In other words, we love them as punchlines.
So while state fairs have our attention, they often do not quite have our respect. This is silly, because state fairs are wonderful events that are best attended earnestly. Many of them go back 100, 150 years, showcasing the very best that their respective state’s farmers, ranchers, artists, bakers, and local governments have to offer. And you should, of course, respect what they represent in terms of sheer ambition. State fairs are where we find what new heights the human race can reach, what ideas can be willed into corporeal form by those who dare to look at foods they have already fried and wonder if they could perhaps fry them again, or differently, or more.
Here are 10 of the biggest, boldest, and best of the country’s state fairs, eager to sell you something On A Stick, ready for you to fall in love.