Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Tinsley from Dunlap, TN. Tinsley Wonders, “How long have state fairs been happening?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Tinsley!

Sniff. Sniff. Do you smell that? Something’s frying and it smells so good! Could it be a corn dog? Maybe an elephant ear? We could sure go for some cotton candy, too. Where are we? The state fair, of course!

Every year, all across the nation, millions of people head to their local state fair to see prize-winning animals, enjoy thrilling amusement park rides, and eat some of the best fried food you’ll ever get on a stick!

State fairs are like giant versions of local city and county fairs. They got their start as competitions for exhibiting livestock. Over time, though, they grew into much, much more.

Today, state fairs include the traditional livestock, craft, and cooking contests. But they may also feature amusement park rides, games, concerts, races, and food vendors that put just about anything you can think of on a stick and deep fry it.

State fairs have been around a long, long time. Back in 1807, Elkanah Watson, known as the father of agricultural fairs, put his sheep on display in the public square in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Years later, the nation’s first state fair took place in Syracuse, New York, in 1841.

Since that time, state fairs have become a yearly tradition all around the country. State fairs attract millions of people every year. The Texas State Fair claims the title of largest state fair with about three million visitors every year. Minnesota doesn’t do too bad either, drawing an average of 150,000 people per day, for the largest average per day attendance for a state fair.

The word “fair” comes from the Latin word feriae, which means “feast.” It’s no wonder then that fairs are famous for their food! You’ll find classic favorites, such as corn dogs and cotton candy, at all state fairs. Vendors at larger fairs go out of their way to come up with all sorts of unheard-of recipes, most of which are deep fried and on a stick. Some of the more unusual things you’re likely come across include deep-fried bubble gum, candy bars, and alligator!

Have you ever been to a state fair? If you have, did you get the chance to eat something delicious? What new recipes might you make if you were a vendor at a fair?

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