A List of the Best State Fairs


State fairs have been a cornerstone of summertime travel in the United States since the 19th century. In 1810, Elkanah Watson, who was a retired business man and New England farmer staged a local cattle show to generate interest in his cattle and the products that were being cultivated by a few local friends. Due to the popularity of the event, Watson launched the first state fair the following year. Over the last two-plus centuries, that premise spread across the United States and state fairs started popping up from coast to coast. What started out as a cattle show turned into a full-blown experience that revolved around local foods, rides and other attractions that have become an ear mark of summertime travel in the US.

The summer of 2020 was largely upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel restrictions left many of us unable to head to our planned vacation destinations, there was another summertime staple that millions of Americans missed out on: state fairs. Every year, millions of Americans and international travelers converge on certain states to take part in a tradition that has been around since the 19th century. With stay-at-home orders in place and social distancing becoming our new normal, it simply wasn’t possible to enjoy state fairs last year. However, with restrictions being lifted, state fairs are back for the summer of 2021.

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