What makes your state the best state? Oddball competitions, dangerous shows, and a sculpture made out of an American diet staple are just a few of the ways in which the states celebrate themselves. Here, seven that excel at quirky self-representation.
Sacramento, July 10 – 26
The California State Fair has quite a bit of wine and dine, unsurprising for a state that’s so well known for its vineyards, craft beer, and organic food fetish. But the fair’s coolest draw is an exhibit where you can “walk through” every Golden State county in 30 minutes or less. Every county makes a 3D, interactive mini-world, giving visitors a great highlight reel. Cool.
Minot, July 17 – 25
Ah, the North Dakota State Fair, where everybody wants to be the king of the rednecks. Or at least, king of the Redneck Relayers. A beloved team-driven relay race involving greased watermelons, a corn toss, whip cream pie eating, and much other ridiculousness, The Redneck Relay is the stiffest competition of the week.
Great Falls, July 24 – August 1
Your Teddy Bear can be famous, if it’s homemade. At the Montana State Fair, quilts, dolls, bears, toys, and all other manner of home-manufactured hobbies and crafts are judged, and found worthy (or not) of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes.
Des Moines, August 13 – 23
For over a century, the Iowa State Fair has had a tradition: the butter cow. (You read that right.) The making of this 600-pound bovine, sculpted entirely of butter, has been passed down through just five sculptors over the years. The current sculptor spent 15 years learning the ropes of butter building from the previous architect.
Palmer, August 27 – September 7
Unless you’re an Alaskan native, you probably have never thought too much about the size of your cabbage. But at the Alaska State Fair, the giant cabbage weigh-off has been won by vegetables of up to 117 pounds.
Albuquerque, September 10 – 20
Weird foods rule at the New Mexico State Fair. That’s because there’s a whole competition dedicated to who can make the most offbeat-but-still-delicious treat. Previous year’s winners include fried beer and donut burgers—doesn’t sound half bad to us.
Doswell, September 25 – October 4
Terrifyingly, the main event at the Virginia State Fair involves a quick moving chainsaw. Don’t worry though—master carver Ben Risney’s got it under control. He’ll be using that chainsaw to make intricate wood sculptures on the daily.
Photo by Bob B. Brown.