Tatiana Ayazo /Rd.com, shutterstock State fairs originated in the 1800s as a sort of trade show for local farmers. Over the decades, they’ve evolved into great big, boisterous grassroots celebrations highlighting each state’s unique culture, traditions, and quirks. Inevitably, those quirks involve wonderfully greasy food as well as amusement park rides, carnival games, arts and crafts shows, auto- and motorcycle racing, and large scale musical concerts. Still, scratch the surface of any state fair, and you’ll find the heart and soul of the state. That’s certainly the case with Alabama’s National Fair, as you’ll realize as soon as you click on its home page. (Hint: Turn down the volume on your device before loading.)
Taking place annually since 1954, Alabama’s National Fair features a big-top circus, pig racing, and more than 60 carnival midway rides and games. It’s also one of a handful of state fairs that takes place after the heat of the summer dies down, and as such is quite laid-back. The 2018 fair will take place September 28 through October 8 in the city of Montgomery. And let’s not forget to mention the food, which is quite remarkable, featuring all the usual deep-fried suspects, as well as some others you’ve only ever imagined (or not!). If you’ve never chowed down on a pork-chop on a stick, then don’t miss Charlie’s Pork-On-A-Stick, and be sure to wash it down with a piña colada that comes in an actual hollowed-out pineapple. These are the healthiest foods you’ll find at state fairs.
Tatiana Ayazo /Rd.com, shutterstock Alaska didn’t become a state until January 3, 1959, but that didn’t stop the ambitious settlers of Alaska from holding their first Alaska State Fair in September 1936. The settlers had arrived just one year earlier from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma as part of a government push to establish the far-flung extra-continental territory as a farming community. Alaska’s first state fair included a baby show, boxing matches, horse races, a rodeo, and baseball. By 1941, the fair had established its traditional giant cabbage contest, the winner of which weighed 23 pounds. In 2012, the winner weighed 138.25 pounds and established a new Guinness World Record for giant cabbages. This year’s fair took place August 23 through September 3 in Palmer, approximately one hour north of Anchorage. Performers included singer Bishop Briggs and comedian Jim Gaffigan.