Fun ‘Til the Cows Come (Go!) Home: The Wisconsin State Fair

Craving a cheesy good time? On a stick? Look no further than a 90-minute drive north, and the Wisconsin State Fair, open August 2 – 12.

Full disclosure, here—I am a former Wisconsinite and therefore partial to this fair over its cousin here in Illinois. But if you’ve never been, you simply must go. Here are 5 reasons why:

Cream puffs: The Fair’s signature food experience is the Wisconsin Bakers Association’s on-site bakery and their delicacy, the cream puff. I don’t think it’s possible to overhype these—more than 355,000 were sold last year alone.

Food on a Stick: It’s a cultural thing—you can spend your entire day eating your way through the fairgrounds and still will not have experienced every iteration of food on a stick. How about a candy bar? Pickle? Pizza? Apple pie? Shrimp tempura? Irish stew? Frozen grapes drizzled in chocolate? And who wants to try sweet potato fries with marshmallow dipping sauce? So many options—some delicious, others just a dare. C’mon—everyone is doing it!

The animals: It is a fair, after all. There are horse, cattle, sheep, swine and goat barns—and they’re active at all hours. Stroll down the aisles to get up close and personal with these magnificent beasts and spend some time in the coliseum watching the judging. It’s a fascinating lesson for kids about farming and the food cycle, and not something you’re likely to catch downtown anytime soon. This year, they’re even expanding to include a live shark encounter. And if you’re lucky, you might get to witness a birthing.

The expo halls: They’re huge, and full of all that late-night shopping channel goodness. Sure, it’s cheesy, and you didn’t plan on buying a 25-piece set of kitchenware—but the food never sticks! They’re the easiest pans you’ll never have to clean! Don’t forget your 2-for-1 set of ShamWow cloths, too!

The vibe: The Fair is going to have something for everyone, from the racing pigs to the Giant Slide, the midway to the main stage (with Neon Trees, Jeff Dunham, Barenaked Ladies and Styx, just to name a few acts!). Take advantage of the opportunity to try something different, soak in some sun, and enjoy the sights and sounds of summer while it lasts.

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