For anyone who’s never had the good fortune to stuff themselves in the United States, it’s difficult to get across just how awesome a state fair can be. These events aren’t anything like the miserable summer fêtes of Britain and Ireland. These are tributes to ridiculously indulgent and utterly ludicrous food, all about pushing the human stomach as far as it can go. For any travelling foodie, these are the American state fairs that are an absolute must visit.
If Wisconsin is famous for anything, it’s cheese. Anyone who’s crossed paths with an enthusiastic Green Bay Packers fan knows all about the strange wedges of cheddar that seem to appear without warning around every local. It’s little surprise, therefore, that the Wisconsin state fair is a Mecca for anyone who likes dairy. Deep fried cheese curds are a local delicacy, but the event is also notable for its exotic foods, including fried alligator and bugs.
2. New York
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just the American heartlands that like their late summers deep fried with a side of diabetes. The Great New York State Fair is living proof that the coasts can rub shoulders with the best of them, serving up a dazzling array of goodies. The star of the show is the now famous Taste NY Food Truck competition, which draws famous entries from across the state, including Cheesed and Confused and Pinkies BBQ.
The Illinois State Fair is famous not only for its food, but also its music. Serenaded by stars such as John Mellencamp and Jason Derulo, guests can tuck into a bewildering array of food provided by the events famous “Ethnic Village” - a celebration of food and drink from 15 countries from around the world.
When an event’s website only devotes a small subsection to “healthy” food, you know that you’re in for a treat. Minnesota’s State Fair does not disappoint. Serving up heart disease shortcuts like Nutella stuffed cinnamon bun sandwiches, bacon, cheese and hash brown filled waffle bowls and deep fried avocado, the main event on the Minnesota foodie calendar definitely earns its culinary stripes.
Home to more food vendors than any other fair in the country - regularly topping 200 - and a now notorious cow sculpture made from butter, the Iowa State Fair has been a Mid-Western institution since 1854. Specialising in food served on a stick, the event is home to such edible innovations as sausage and pancakes on a stick and deep fried brownie on a stick. Sticky or not, these foods are clearly delicious.
6. San Diego County
It may not technically be a state, but that doesn’t stop the San Diego County event from serving up some of the tastiest food in the country. Attended by more than 1.6 million annual visitors, the San Diego County Fair has wowed audiences with foods such as deep fried filet-mignon and M&M crusted kettle corn.
It wouldn’t be a state fair discussion without at some point mentioning Texas. The Lonestar State is famous for making everything bigger, and its annual food celebration doesn’t disappoint. Most Texan cooks’ weapon of choice is the deep fryer, which they wield to devastating effect. Some of the fair’s most famous creations include deep fried butter, deep fried candy floss and deep fried coca cola. If you can eat it, Texas can fry it.
Over the years, state fairs have evolved considerably from their traditional roots. But, as these seven delicious events prove, the food has remained better than ever. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.