Pleb Summer: The State Fair

by on July 5th, 2017
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It’s summertime, which means it’s time for trips to the beach house, a cross-country road trip, or travel to exotic vacation destinations.

But for those of us who can’t spare the time or the money to make a getaway, it’s PlebSummer! We’re posting this summer about summer for the rest of us.

About this time of year, average citizens from Alaska to Alabama are gearing up for a classic summer tradition: The State Fair.

State Fairs are so ubiquitous (as are the county fairs that lead up to them) that Americans take for granted just how uniquely American and odd they are.

Agricultural fairs date back to ancient times of course. But American fairs are so much more. In addition to annual display of livestock and agricultural products, state fairs are known for their fairground rides and games, pageant shows, recipe contests, tractor-pulls, rodeos, speeches by vote-hunting politicos (even Abraham Lincoln spoke at a state fair when he was running for president), freak shows, loads of fried and remarkably frightening foods, bird-calling competitions, and, of course, butter sculptures.

The first American State Fair was held in Syracuse, New York in 1841, but it wasn’t until after the Civil War that they really became the sites of mass rowdy entertainment that they are today.

If you live in a State with a fair (and odds are you do, since they’re held in 46 states), treat yourself with a trip down to the fairground for a special kind of fun you’re not going to find elsewhere. Where else but a State Fair would you see a replica of the Statue of Liberty made out of corn or monkeys in top hats dancing to minstrel music (OK, they don’t do that last one anymore, but they used to, at the Ohio State Fair). Lost children, stomachaches, and monkey bites are the norm in August and September as Americans gather on fairgrounds for one last bacchanal before the summer ends.

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