Back in 1979, my job offered a day-trip excursion to the Wisconsin State Fair. I was 25 years old and had never attended one. So I got three of my friends’ kids who were preteens, and the four of us got on the bus at my job and off we went.
The bus parked in the parking lot nearest the midway, and of course having kids who love carnival rides, we got on everything we could. I remember spending all the money I had brought with me (these were the days before cash station machines), to the point where I had to borrow a couple of dollars later from a co-worker in order to later take the CTA home.
Having run out of money, we ended up exploring the rest of the fair because we didn’t know there was more to it than the rides. I remember touring the Exhibition Hall and speaking with a gentleman who represented the Singer sewing machine company. I had been admiring the Athena 2000 which came in a cabinet that looked more like an armoire than the typical desk type cabinet. The man told me he had a “state fair special.” Literally at that time, the machine was $1,000 and the cabinet was $1,000. But if I bought the machine at the state fair, I could get both for $1,000. He talked me into it and I filled out a credit application, signed my name and voilà: several weeks later they delivered the machine and I ended up paying it off in a year’s time. I have been a state-fair addict ever since.
I tried the Illinois State Fair a couple of times and I don’t really like it. Horrible food, and a cheesy Exhibition Hall with items for sale. Within the last five years, we did the Iowa State Fair (which is where all new weird fair foods are generally introduced) and the Indiana State Fair (which had the best activities for children and lowest prices for food).
I was supposed to do the Wisconsin fair again this year, but the person who was planning to go with me couldn’t make it. I was lamenting to another friend about how I resented missing the State Fair and they told me to come down to Texas because their state fair was coming up. I booked a flight on Southwest Airlines for less than $150 round trip, found a very nice and reasonable hotel and off I went.
I got a chance at the fair to do a free test drive of at least four 2023 Chevy vehicles. I tried the Chevy Tundra which had an obstacle course that gave you a minor fill to show off its ability to go off-road. I even got my old butt into a Corvette and sped down the straight-away with it. After the test drive, I was given a free T-shirt, so that was nice. Shopping was so-so, but the general store filled with Texas-produced food products was great. I even got the chance to watch one of those hokey muscleman shows where the guy juggled three bowling balls.
Most state fairs are pretty much the same, but there are differences that makes one better than another. Food and a variety of vendors are important to me.
Next year I think I’m going to try Minnesota, Ohio or Kentucky.