The Maryland state fair vs. a Midwestern state fair

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve attempted to visit three state fairs (Indiana, Minnesota, and Maryland) and successfully made it to two of them (didn’t catch the Indiana State Fair, they closed an hour early the day I arrived). To put this in context, I was recently on a road trip where I passed through Indiana and Minnesota. I was motivated to see the Minnesota state fair because I missed the Indiana State Fair and I saw the Maryland State Fair because I read about it in the events section of the in-flight magazine en route to D.C. The state fairs of Midwestern states tend to be legendary for their scale, pride, and granduer and while the Minnesota state fair was considerably larger and had more of everything, I found the Maryland and Minnesota state fairs to be surprisingly similar.

                The two main centerpieces are the same: The amusement park rides and the livestock competitions. In a more compact space than its Midwestern counterpart, the Maryland State Fair has a variety of fun houses, scramblers, ferris wheels. Most of the rides are aimed at children but there are a decent number, including the Starship 4000, the Ex-Treme pendulum scrambler and the Supershot free-fall tower, that are pretty thrilling for adults and for $20 (or $15 with a coupon from Food Lion) one can have a pass to ride them all day.

                The latter part, livestock competitions, is something city folk like me don’t see every day, is an interesting look at a different subculture. This might not sound as interesting as it looks, but state fair spokeswoman Edie Bernier says that the livestock competiions are usually packed houses, and part of the crowds are people who had no idea what they were getting into.

                “Many of us are four or five generations away from our ancestors who farmed so we’re not very familiar with animal productivity, so it’s very interesting and educational subject,” said Bernier. “When you first walk in there and youv’e never seen it and you say ‘what it this’ and then once they see it, they find it’s very interesting.”

                At both fairs, there ware exhibitors, public information booths giving away freebies, evening entertainment, a natural resources exhibit, games, newscasts (as in a chance to interact with local news personalities, watch the news be broadcast, potentially be on the news, etc.), and the chance to eat American-strangely-exotic foods in on-a-stick form. U

                Some of this stuff might sound like a wierd way to spend a weekend, but there’s a certain magic to the State Fair that tends to bring out the inner child in you. When we were in the Minnesota state fair, for example, my brother-in-law came up to me when I met him for lunch and enthusiastically told me that he was going to take advantage of the $.99 “all-you-can-drink-in-a-minute” milk booth. Of course, being a steadily employed 28-year old, he could just go to the store, buy a gallon of milk, and drink as much of it as he wanted, but it’s within the confines of the state fair’s walls, that the everyday and weird tends to become that much more fun.

                The Maryland State Fair will still be open until Labor Day and is very accessible to Washingtonians. Without a car, one can take the Marc or Amtrak trains to Baltimore (leaving several times a day) followed by a short trip on the lightrail to the fair grounds in Timonium. The fair is open from 10 am to 10 pm and is only $8 for admission for adults.



2 Responses

  1. is there a washington d.c. state fair?

    • there will be. keep an eye out in early fall 2010. 😉

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