Join Brooke as she explores the Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota State Fairs!
Growing up in the livestock industry, I’ve traveled to numerous states for judging contests, shows and more. There’s just something really special about state fairs – each individual fair showcases and represents that state, its people and its products. This August, I happened to have plans to attend the Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota State Fairs. That travel itinerary and my love of all-things-state-fair (and writing blogs) led to the creation of the “Best of the Midwest State Fair Series”.
As I travel to these three different state fairs, I’ll be analyzing them in a few different categories and giving them a blue, red or white ribbon. (Obviously, blue being the best and white being less-than-stellar.) Check out the categories I’ll be ranking them on:
- Beef Show – How big is the show? What are the barns like? What breeds of cattle are popular?
- Beef Foods – I’ll sample a yummy beef food item and share my thoughts!
- Attractions – What is there to do for fun? What makes each particular fair unique?
- Facilities – How big is the fairgrounds? Is there a midway, concert stage, racetrack, etc.? Where is the fairgrounds located?
- People – How big are the crowds? How good is the people-watching? What types of people are around the fair – families, young people, or livestock exhibitors?
My state fair adventures began in West Allis, Wisconsin, at my home state fair. I’ve exhibited everything from sheep to dairy heifers to beef cattle at the Wisconsin State Fair, so it clearly means a lot to me. Regardless, I promise to provide unbiased rankings!
The Beef Show: Red Ribbon
The beef show at the Wisconsin State Fair is always a pleasure to see. From Herefords to Shorthorns to Angus, the majority of beef breeds are well-represented. No, the show isn’t huge by any means, but when the breed champions all come out for the selection of Supreme Breeding Heifer and Champion Market Steer, it becomes evident that there is no shortage in quality.
The show takes place in the Case IH Coliseum and all the cattle are either in barns on the hill above the coliseum or in a lower barn directly across from the Coliseum’s main entrance. Either way, it’s a fairly short walk from the barns to the show ring!
The Beef Foods: Blue Ribbon
My beef item of choice is one that I’ve been eyeing up for a few years now – “The Wisconsin Mac Burger”! This delicious item was once featured on the Travel Channel and has an $8 price tag. I found that it was well worth the cost.
The burger is served on a butter bun and topped with both deep fried mac and cheese AND bacon! Check out my artsy pic of the burger with the ferris wheel in the background >>>
This burger was everything fair food should be – unique, greasy and delicious! The bacon and the mac and cheese were a dynamite combo on top of an exceptional burger patty.
P.S. If you’re going to visit the WI State Fair, you need to have a cream puff. I know this is totally unrelated to beef, but these things are delicious and a WI State Fair classic!
On a side note, if you don’t want to consistently drop $8 on a beef meal at the state fair, I’d definitely recommend the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association’s trailer. They serve burgers, roast beef sandwiches, steak sandwiches and more throughout the entire duration of the fair!
The Attractions: Red Ribbon
While the Wisconsin State Fair is my home state fair, I’d be lying if I said that it was jam-packed with things to do at every turn. Sure, there’s plenty to do, but the majority of the excitement takes place in either the Coliseum or on the main stage. With that being said, this year the Wisconsin State Fair had North America’s largest traveling ferris wheel – the WonderWheel – available for fairgoers to ride!
The Wisconsin State Fair also features a daily parade, giant slide, sky glider, discovery barnyard, exposition center and SpinCity – the amusement park area with more than 50 different rides.
The Facilities: Blue Ribbon
I happen to be extremely familiar with the fairgrounds as a past exhibitor. Personally, I love that the Coliseum and the barns are all in such close proximity to each other – it makes for less stress for exhibitors going to and from the ring and more opportunities for fairgoers watching the show to find and interact with beef exhibitors. Additionally, the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association’s trailer is just a few short steps from the barns and the Coliseum – easy and convenient for hungry exhibitors or fairgoers after a long day at the show!
The People: Red Ribbon
The weather was beautiful all three days I was at the Wisconsin State Fair, and I can tell you that there certainly were enough people around the fair. However, the crowds weren’t the biggest I’ve seen at the fair and I didn’t catch any really fascinating moments while “people watching”. Average, but not outstanding in the people category for Wisconsin.
All in all, the Wisconsin State Fair truly is a fantastic experience for anyone – whether you’re a fairgoer or livestock exhibitor. The food is good, the attractions are satisfactory and the show is convenient for exhibitors and fun to watch for fairgoers! While there’s nothing overly wild and crazy about this fair, there’s certainly plenty of “beef” to keep you occupied.
Plus, my heart will always call the Wisconsin State Fair home. It honestly is about impossible to not love your home state fair.
Stay tuned for next week’s review of the Iowa State Fair!
Beef and blessings,