Skip to main content

Deep-Fried Everything: 4 of the Most Gluttonous State Fairs in the U.S.

Can we all agree that everything is better fried? Right? Right. Well, if the occasional basket of happy hour hot wings just isn’t satisfying your craving for fried, it’s time to invest in some destination snacking. There’s no better place to travel for deep-fried fare than the state fairs of the U.S. South and Midwest. Thankfully, we’re on the heels of annual state fair season and some of the best in the country just around the corner.

Wisconsin State Fair

August 2-12, 2018

wisconsin state fair sampler
Wisconsin State Fair/Facebook

There are three food groups in Wisconsin: meat, deep-fried, and cheese. Only the most divine snacks fall into more than one of those groups. The Wisconsin State Fair celebrates them all. You’ll find chicken in a waffle on a stick, chocolate-covered gouda on a stick, and football-sized gyro rolls. What the fair lacks in quantity (it’s arguably the smallest on this list), it more than makes up for with “exotic” foods. Adventurous eaters can savor things like alligator legs, kangaroo teriyaki, rocky mountain oysters (that’s bull balls, by the way), and plenty of fried insects. The cricket and earthworm jerky from All Things Jerky makes a nice appetizer.

Iowa State Fair

August 9-19, 2018

iowa state fair
Iowa State Fair

The Iowa State Fair is the country’s oldest (since 1854!), busiest (with more than one million attendees annually), and most impressive fairs of its kind in the country. Here, you’ll find an inordinate amount of livestock competitions and more than 200 food vendors.  The big get, however, is food on a stick. Seriously, if there’s a way to stick-ify an unhealthy snack, you’ll find someone doing it here. The fair is so well-known for it, in fact, that they publish a page dedicated to all the “on-a-stick” treats you can sample this year. You’ll find all the staples like apple pie, corn dogs, and pork chops — all on sticks. But, why not broaden your horizons (and your waistline) by going all-in with unicorn lollipops, ultimate brisket bacon bombs, and the always popular Chocolate Covered Chunky Bacon Maple Nougat On-a-stick? You only live once, and your cardiologist’s kids certainly aren’t going to put themselves through college.

Minnesota State Fair

August 23-September 3, 2018

minnesota state fair bbq split
Minnesota Sate Fair

Minnesota is no slouch when it comes to overconsumption (see also: The Mall of America). The annual Minnesota State Fair pulls a close silver medal to Texas’ outlandish annual event (more on that in a sec). You’ll find plenty of carnival rides with questionable safety records and a dizzying array of free live music — more than 1,000 entertainers throughout the 12-night event to be exact. They even got The Beach Boys! But the real pièce de résistance is the food. The endless selection of heart-stopping, artery-clogging, impossible-to-resist fried food. Sure, some of it — like the gluten-free vegan Earth Wings and shrimp ceviche — provides the illusion of “healthy options.” But who the hell isn’t ordering the Irish Tater Kegs, the three-meat Swedish Meatball Smörgås (whatever they are), and a Turducken Sausage Sandwich?

State Fair of Texas

September 28-October 21, 2018

state fair of texas
State Fair of Texas/Facebook

Because (almost) literally everything is bigger in Texas, it’s no surprise the state is home to the biggest, most outlandish, and frankly most absurd state fair in the country. The aptly named State Fair of Texas is an annual event that sets the bar for gluttony. There’s a giant, 55-foot-tall talking cowboy mascot, the country’s tallest Ferris Wheel (an almost terrifying 212 feet), and rows upon rows of food vendors who’ve never met something they didn’t want to stick in a deep fryer. You’ll find fried Fruit Loops, fried bubblegum, fried peanut butter banana cheeseburgers — even fried beer.

God bless America.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Summer is here — head to one of the 14 most underrated beaches in the U.S.
You can visit many of the best beaches in the world right here in the United States — no passport required!
Lumahai Beach

To find the perfect beach to have fun in the sun, it’s easy to assume that you need to head to some brand-name international tourist destination, like Fiji, Bora Bora, and the Maldives. Sure, you can’t go wrong with any of these, but some of the best beaches in the world are right here in the U.S. — no passport required. Pack up your favorite beach gear and head to one of these underrated beaches while practicing the necessary safety measures this summer.

Montaña de Oro State Park
San Luis Obispo, California
California’s Central Coast offers some of the most pristine coastlines in the entire state. For tourists, it’s an often overlooked area which, for those in the know, is a very, very good thing. Head to Montaña de Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo — seven miles of breathtaking Pacific coastline dotted with dramatic coves, panoramic bluff views, and a never-ending surf. Don’t miss the opportunity to head to the southern edge of the park, where a lesser-known path leads to beautiful Coon Creek Beach.

Read more
This is the drink that replaced Bud Light as the most popular beer in the U.S.
Bud Light and America have long been close. But there's a new most popular beer in the states.
Negra Modelo

For the first time in about a generation, the most popular beer in the states is not American. That's right, Bud Light has lost its place on the throne, replaced by the likes of Modelo Especial of Mexico. What can we deduce from this change in popular beers?

The margins are thin, and Budweiser may still win out in terms of total year sales, but this is still a significant storyline. A few things are unfolding here, which speak to larger themes that exist within the beverage industry and at large.
South of the border trends and diversity

Read more
Revealed: These are the 10 best states for camping in the U.S.
If you love camping, we hope you live in one of these 10 states
A couple camping.

Get ready to pack your bags and hit the road! The adventure enthusiasts at Adventures on the Rock have done all the heavy lifting for you. They’ve created a Camping Index that analyzes each of the best states for camping based on ten critical elements to help you make the best decision about where to camp this summer.

The analysis used a range of statistics to assess each state, including the number of national parks and landmarks, hiking trails, RV parks relative to population, paid or free campsites relative to population, average fuel prices, yearly average rainfall, diversity of plant and animal species, death caused by dangerous plants and animals, and deaths per 10 million national park visits.
The best states for camping
Each state was given a score out of 10 for each category. Add that all up, and we have some easily comparable metrics. With 100 being the best and 0 the worst, here are the top ten state rankings to camp in this summer:

Read more