7 Reasons to Take Your Family to a County Fair


There seems to be nothing more Americana than that of a good ol’ county fair. The smell of popcorn, the Ferris wheel lights at night, the sighting of the high school girl who has just been crowned queen, and the taste of freshly fried funnel cakes. According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, there are approximately 3,200 fairs in North America each year. So surely there must be one near you.

There are many reasons to love a county fair, but here are some that top the list.


County fairs are typically smaller in nature. This means more time together as a family to focus on one another, and less time being distracted by technology and the typical hustle and bustle that comes with an evening or weekend. Together as a family, decide what you want to see, hear, taste, and see at the county fair. There are endless options from watching shows to grabbing a meal, being silly on roller coasters, perusing the animal barn and just taking in the sights (yes, AND smells) that exist there.


When it comes to a county, state or other fair, there is a hardly a place that offers more variety when it comes to entertainment. Sure, some fairs are larger than others and can pull in nationally known musicians. Others are smaller and rely on local talent to satisfy the listening ears of those who visit. Either way, there is talent amongst us all and isn’t it enjoyable to watch others perform?

Be Entertained By Shows


Whether watching on a large stage with lights and pyrotechnics or viewing a cement slab filled with square dancers, there is something to watch! From local dance teams excited to share their talent to Grammy Award Winning country musicians, there is something to take witness of. Some county fairs rely on shows to pull in their crowds and will invest their budget accordingly.

The Clay County Fair is held each fall in Spencer, Iowa. Although the population of Spencer is a mere 11,000 people, the annual attendance for the county fair held in their city is a whopping 310,000 visitors. Why you might ask? The Clay County Fair, known as one of the largest county fairs in the country, has brought in such acts as Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes, Kenny Chesney, and Vince Gill. Clearly, a country music lover’s place to visit!

Be Entertained By Rides


You won’t meet a kid at a country fair who doesn’t want to indulge in roller coasters and the Tilt-a-Whirl. Many fairs now offer bracelets and ride discounts to entice riders and to make the rides more family friendly (a.k.a. affordable) so that everyone can enjoy them. The Ferris Wheel continues to be a popular ride, whether you head to the top as a family, on a date, or enjoy the ride with friends.

Be Entertained by the Queens


Every small town county fair crowns a queen! After competing at the beginning of the fair week, holding interviews, sharing talents, and answering questions, the judges announce a winner. One lucky young lady who resides in that county will take on the title, crown, and sash, and later compete at the state level. Throughout the fair, queen candidates assist with fair activities, volunteer their time across the grounds, and meet with their adoring fans.


Fried Twinkies on a Stick. Red Velvet Funnel Cake. Mini Donuts. Do I need to continue to make your mouth water for more? Checking out new fair food is a highlight for many people. Not only are the concoctions unique in their character, but are often created with intensity in the off-season. Much time, energy, and planning go into account when planning for what goes on a stick, which flavors to savor, and what ingredients may make up the most deliciously winning combination.

Each year, state fairs across the country announce their new fair foods to tantalize taste buds and evoke excitement for what’s to come. There are many highlights, but a few to mention are Brown Sugar Pork Belly on a Stick, Duck Bacon Wontons, and even an Apple Egg Roll, which took home the blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair in 2018.


County fairs are synonymous with agriculture and 4H. If you’re a city kid who isn’t used to growing up near barnyards and gravel roads, then the sight of a baby goat might just be the best thing you’ve ever seen. The city folk come to county fairs to get away and see new sights. Farm kids who wake up every day to the sights and sounds of livestock welcome a visit to the fair to see their own and meet the competition.


County Fairs offer hands-on excitement for kids of all ages. From learning to milk a cow to participating in big wheel races, testing your pottery skills on a kiln for the first time or driving a tractor, cheering on the pig races to painting in an open courtyard, there is something new for everyone to try. The fair is a time to try new things, learn new ideas, and broaden your horizons beyond your typical days. There is no shortage of fun activities, with the only obstacle being trying to cram all of fun into your stay during the fair.


Just as the sun rises in the East and the snow falls during a Midwestern winter, attending a county fair can be more than just a family fun day. For many families, attending the fair each year becomes a tradition. This tradition is something that is ingrained in children at an early age and passed down from generation to generation. Some families travel from across the country for one day of sharing fair food and laughs at their local fair. Others take it to the next level and turn their local fair into a second home by adding a camping component to their fair visit. Whatever families decide, making a fair visit an annual event can bring about a wonderful tradition to be cherished and adored for years to come.

Clay County, in Iowa, is known for having the largest county fair in the USA, with a yearly attendance of over 320,000. Texas has the highest population for a state fair with an average visitor toll of 2.25 million people yearly.


County fairs bring out the best in people. Additionally, they bring out the good people. County fairs typically include a slower moving crowd and those that enjoy a leisurely pace. This isn’t a reference to quantitative speed and pace, but rather a mindset of less is more and stop and smell the roses. Whether this describes your inner personality or is far from who you are, try living in the moment when visiting a county fair. Stop and see the baby animals, talk to the food vendors and find out how long they’ve been creating their signature dishes, watch the shows, and say hello to the people you pass.


County Fair

Photo Credit: April Walker

Sources: International Association of Fairs and Expositions, 40 Crazy Fair Facts

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