Grab some funnel cake and enjoy these fun fair facts

Of all the great things about summer, perhaps none evokes as much nostalgia as the time-honored tradition of the state fair. Just those two words conjure up wondrous sights, sounds and smells. With more than half of the country’s state fairs cranking up in the next two months, here are five fun facts that’ll leave you craving some cotton candy and a spin on the Ferris wheel.

  1. Fair firsts — While the first American agricultural fair is believed to be the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Cattle Show in 1811, the first actual state fair took place in Syracuse, New York, in 1841.
  2. Dueling butter cows — Many state fairs feature butter sculptures, but two states are known for the most iconic displays of dairy dexterity: butter cows. Iowa’s buttery bovine orignally appeared in 1911, while Illinois’ creative cow first made the scene 11 years later.
  3. A literal train wreck — In 1913, the California State Fair started staging actual collisions between steam locomotives to the delight of fairgoers. This may have become more of a long-term thing had the U.S. not entered World War I in 1918. As it was, resources like metal were far too precious to waste for mere amusement, and the tradition — like the retired trains it used — was scrapped.
  4. It fixes everything — If traditional craft and talent competitions leave you wanting something more, you could always take in the Kansas State Fair’s Decorative Arts —Duct Tape Division contest. First prize: $15.
  5. “Moovers” and shakers — Looking for higher stakes? The Wisconsin State Fair’s Moo-la-palooza awards $1,000 to the contestant producing the most authentic-sounding moo.


WBTL-0768 (July 19)

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