What to do at the Wisconsin State Fair
Two weeks ago, I had no idea what to do at the Wisconsin State Fair. Or, I guess, any state fair. I’d never been to one before and only had a vague idea of what to expect: farm animals, carnival rides, and a lot of fried foods.
My friends and I were planning a weekend road trip to see the En Vogue / TLC concert, watch the world cheese curd eating championship, and, yes, eat a lot of fried foods. But we ended up doing a lot more than we thought we would, like watching a pig race, playing bar trivia, riding across the park on the SkyGlider, and, well, eating a few non-fried foods.
If you’re planning to tick “Go to the Wisconsin State Fair” off your bucket list here are some of the things you should definitely do while there. Because they are all the things I did while I was there. And I had a pretty kick-ass time…
What to do at the Wisconsin State Fair
What to do at the Wisconsin State Fair:
Eat everything (on a stick)
Food is a big thing at the Wisconsin State Fair. If you can fry it, put it on a stick, or enhance it with bacon, you will probably find it at one of the many stalls. Every year vendors try to outdo each other, and themselves, with their crazy food creations. Some of the food has gotten so outrageous that the fair now holds the Sporkies: an annual food competition to pick the best and most unique food at the fair. Of this year’s eight finalists, I tried four: Pig Candy Cannoli, French Onion Soup On-a-Stick, Deep-Fried Turducken On-a-Stick, and a S’mores Beer Float.
If weird cuisine isn’t your thing you can find more typical fair food as well: from roasted corn to corn dogs and, of course, deep fried cheese curds.
Check Out the Goats (and Other Animals)
I’m not going to lie: I definitely sized up some baby goats to see if I could smuggle one out in my purse (I mean, my cats need a new friend, right?). If you want to see adorable (and prize winning) farm animals, the Wisconsin State Fair is the place to browse. There are barnyards full of pigs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, horses, cows, and goats… (And we all know I love goats.)
You can wander the barns to check out stalls and stalls of cute creatures on display or stick around for a dairy show, horse pull, or livestock auction.
Ride the Rides
From the 200-foot giant slide to the 15-story-high WonderFair Wheel ferris wheel to the SpinCity amusement park full of rollercoasters, spinning rides, and funhouses the carnival rides at the Wisconsin State Fair are a great place to get your thrills… or puke up a corndog.
Watch the Pig Races
Sooey! It might be the best ten seconds in all of sports: Saz’s Racing Pigs. Several times a day you can sit back to watch swine versus sow sprint around a track. These porkers are out for the win so pick your favorite and cheer them on!
Take the SkyGlider Across the Park
The best way to get from one end of the fairgrounds to the other is to take the SkyGlider: soaring gondolas that stretch the length of the park for a bird-eye view of the action. It’s a great excuse to rest your feet, get a lay of the land, and get a new perspective to spot those food stall specials you were looking for. Plus it’s not too scary, even if if you’re afraid of heights like I am…
See a Concert on the Main Stage
Every year the Wisconsin State Fair presents a diverse assortment of headliners on their main stage. Performers range from country stars to alternative rock groups to your favorite 90s girl bands. We planned our whole trip around seeing the En Vogue and TLC concert and my pre-teen alter ego couldn’t have been happier. Bonus: a ticket to a main stage show includes admission to the fair so you can get there early and enjoy the whole day.
While many of the attractions, entertainment, and food options are out in the open air, don’t forget to head inside for more (if for nothing else, to cool off in an air conditioned building). Take some time to shop the Exhibition Center and check out some artwork or stop in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion where you can shop for local goods like honey, popcorn, and maple syrup cotton candy and see all the fair meat and dairy fair product winners.
Watch the Cheese Curd Eating Contest
How many cheese curds can you eat in six minutes? Competitive eaters from Wisconsin and around the country converge to see who can consume the most curds in record time at the World Cheese Curd Eating Championship. This year’s winner ate 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Which was about 5 more pounds than I ate at the fair.
Check out the Entertainment
You might be coming to the fair for one of the main stage acts, but definitely come early and check out one of the 30-some other side stages of entertainment. Grab a beer (or a soda in a refillable cup) and sit down to hear a local cover band playing at a makeshift bar, check out a Kids from Wisconsin musical performance, see a Guinness World Record get broken, or play a round of trivia with friends.
Eat an Original Cream Puff
While there are plenty of fried foods on a stick to choose from, you can’t leave the Wisconsin State Fair without eating an Original Cream Puff. They are THE thing to eat and have been a fair tradition since 1924. An average of 350,000 are consumed at the fair each year. The light, pillowy, rounds of pastry dough are filled with layers of sweet vanilla whipped cream and topped with powdered sugar. Sit down and grab a few napkins before taking a bite or else you might end up with some filling on your lap.