State and County Fairs (& Food We Love at Them!)

The state fair, a local county fair…. it’s amazing to me how different the pictures in my mind are now from what they used to be. I grew up a city girl and although I do remember where the livestock area was at my local fair (the Mid-South Fair which has moved locations recently), I only remember a hurried run-through now and then (usually with my fingers on my nose most likely as I remember it as smelly LOL).

As I’ve gotten to know more people in the livestock side of agriculture, I realized those smelly barns likely housed high hopes from young and old who had been working with animals for some time to get them in show condition. I got my first look at showing livestock last fall. Some of the farmers I know are involved in their local fairs and demonstrating agriculture you can follow online are:

  • Some of the beef folks that showed me around my first show (NAILE) — Mike Haley on Twitter or Facebook and Andy Vance on Twitter.  Both are breeders for Simmental and Short Horns, respectively, at the Ohio State Fair this week.
  • Farmers Tim and Emily Zweber — his Twitter, her Twitter and the Zweber Farms blog and Facebook. Tim says they are taking dairy cows & sheep to the county fair and tells me their son will be showing a calf as a novice.
  • A twitter friend (@PamiSuePorkPage) says her 13 year old will be showing a pig for the first time (blog includes a few in the pork business others)
  • Kelly Whatley (friend from Twitter and her blog) says her sons show pigs county and Texas majors and have lots of fun!

Sure, my mom reminds me we surely saw something along that line as I was growing up, I only remember a rodeo and listening to Roger Miller sing about rollerskating with a buffalo herd. I also can’t imagine I never heard of something that gets a lot of discussion from Midwestern farmers going to the fair life-sized butter sculptures. Surely I couldn’t have missed that within a few minutes of my house! I mean, I LOVE BUTTER!


Mike Haley & thousands of others look forward to the butter cow at the Ohio State Fair each year

My idea of the fair as a child included:

  • going through a few buildings with booths of stuff where we would pick up SWAG (stuff we all get)
  • the midway of rides (some I loved and some that scared me so much I wouldn’t go near them)
  • a lot of walking
  • maybe a concert or rodeo
  • arts & crafts competitions (especially some my grandmom or us kids would enter)
  • a day out of school whether it was spent at the fair or elsewhere
  • and more than anything else, it meant food!

Which brings us to this week’s food poll! (and in Memphis we don’t have to wait for the fair for food, check the ILoveMemphis blog post as a review of Carnival Food)

And as I searched the net for photos, I found this awesome shot that looks like it could have been when I was a tiny kid. I had to put it on here even though is says it was before I was born.

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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18 Responses to State and County Fairs (& Food We Love at Them!)

  1. Mary Fleming July 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    First dairy calf went to fair when I was three. I have been showing at the same fair ever since – over 50 years. Love my Jerseys with the big brown eyes. For the last three years I have been leasing calves to disadvantaged youth. Dairy, and livestock projects teach responsibility like nothing else. Besides, you can develop self esteem when you accomplish something and what is bigger than getting a 1,000 pound cow to follow your commands.

    • Janice July 30, 2010 at 9:30 am #

      What an awesome idea to help others develop their sense of responsibility & self-esteem! I hope you can share some of those stories via photos or video!

  2. The Wife of a Dairyman July 29, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    LOVE county fairs! We’ll be attending our third one next week. Can’t wait for that corndog

    • Dot May 24, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

      Love the food at the fair too. Unfortunately, my group (Highland Homemakers) has to pay something like $400 for insurance starting this year because we serve food (homemade apple dumplings). This kind of thing leads to packaged snacks and forecasts the end of fair food as we’ve known it.

      • JPlovesCOTTON May 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

        What fair are you talking about? I’d love to know more so I can see if its something more fairs are doing. I love the local booths at the fairs I go to.

  3. Lana Wallpe July 30, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Our county fair is so small that we don’t have rides, just inflatable bouncy houses for the little ones. It is crazy to find reputable ride companies to come to your little fairs. They want like $30,000 upfront to come, and I don’t think there are that many people in my county! Benton County is the most agricultural county in Indiana, and I believe that translates into more pigs than people! My husband and I are both on the fair board to keep it going, and it works. It’s just sad not to see a Ferris wheel on the grounds.

    • Janice July 30, 2010 at 9:27 am #

      That’s great you all volunteer to keep it going. With the small communities, something like a county fair makes such a great life-long memory. I’m sure the kids love it as is and they can save the ferris wheel experience til they get a chance to go tot he state fair sometime. Thanks for all you do!

  4. Illinois State Fair July 31, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Great Post!!

  5. Sherry Collins August 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    I love the real lemondae. And the kettlecorn. I haven’t tried it (but plan to this year) is the odd food category – chocolate dipped bacon, which to those Minnesota State Fair goers is known as “pig lickers”. One of my friends swears that it is divine. I’m still skeptical. Fair food is so weird but can be oh-so-good.

    I just love the fair!
    Great post. :)

  6. Unapologetically Mundane August 4, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    I miss the Ohio State Fair and that butter cow SO MUCH since moving to NYC about five years ago. But my favourite place to chow is the Circleville Pumpkin Show every October!

    I recently heard about fried Coke at a state fair and am now dying to find it somewhere. Too bad you don’t get a lot of county fairs in Manhattan.

    (This is @plumpdumpling from Twitter, by the way. Happy to read you!)

    • Janice August 4, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

      WOW! I may have to make it to Ohio in October — those photos have me STARVING!

      Nice to read you too!

  7. gaf shingles August 6, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    I have some great memories of going to the state fair. Good times.

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