State Fairs in America
For many Americans this is the season for many state fairs. Like our county shows, they began originally as agricultural shows and then developed to include fun fairs, stalls and other entertainment. If you’re visiting America this month or next you might want to see if there is one happening whilst you’re there.
Texas has the biggest fair with over 2.6 million visitors last year. It’s held in the Fair Park in Dallas, runs for over three weeks and generates about $350 million worth of our tourism revenue to the state. Three weeks is a long for one type of visitor attraction so it shows the appeal that these institutions have. Although the state fair in Minnesota runs for much less time and began way back in 1859, it draws more people per day to its St Paul location than any other.
Take the Oregon State Fair, one of the earliest beginning on August 26th, which this year is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the official state fair. From the following year it has been held in Salem, the state capital which is just outside Portland, the largest and most well-known city in Oregon and tickets cost just $7 for adults if bought in advance. It might once have had an agricultural feel but today, there are concerts, shows and events so that it resembles more a weekend fair than one of our county shows. The opening day, for example, has a tribute to Ray Charles and then there is a combination of local wines and food mixed with more music. Unlike here, there is even a science and technology section with part given over to recycling, an international photographic exhibition and classic cars, between 80 and 100 of them.
Michigan claimed to have the oldest state fair in the country but since it now seems dormant (no fair in 2010 or 2011), that honour now goes to the Great New York State Fair held in Syracuse. That goes back to 1841 so this year it is 170 years old. Starting in just over a fortnight’s time, this 12 day fair is held on 375 acres and costs $10. Given the prices charged for museum entry, guided tours and galleries, for example, this represents great value for the visitor.