9 Real American Ghost Stories

American history is rife with violent tales: grisly murders, massacres, tragic accidents and suicides litter the historical landscape. These kind of tragedies are apt to give rise to tales of horrifying hauntings; American folklore is chock-full of ghosts and ghouls. Many of these supposed specters are associated with violence, tragedy or unsolved crimes. Some of the places associated with these ghost tales have become well-known across the nation—and some are all the more terrifying because there’s at least some grain of truth buried in those ghastly yarns.

9. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

As far as spooky places go, you can’t get much more terrifying than an old asylum. Although many former asylums have been converted since their closure, others are abandoned—but almost all are rumored to be haunted with the ghosts of those patients who died in care there. The Trans-Allegheny Asylum, in Weston, West Virginia, has been mostly vacant since its closure in the mid-1990s, although a few small museums did operate during the early 2000s. These days, you can take a historic tour or a ghost tour during the evening. If you’re really up for a challenge, take the intensive, 8-hour ghost hunt on a Saturday night. The site also served as a post for soldiers during the Civil War, so in addition to the rumored spirits of hundreds of mentally ill patients, Civil War ghosts have also been reported to haunt the facility.

karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com
karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com

8. Moundsville Penitentiary

Like asylums, places where prisoners were held are often purported to be full of ghosts. The old Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia is one such supposedly haunted jail. These days, the former prison is a tourist attraction, used to host an annual Halloween attraction, but that’s not the only spooky thing going on here. Unexplained noises, voices, cold spots and even reports of a “shadow” man have given Moundsville a reputation as one of the most haunted prisons in America. Operating between 1876 and 1995, the facility had a violent history: 94 prisoners were executed and 36 were murdered by their fellow inmates. One such case was that of R.D. Wall, who was butchered in October 1929. In 1986, 3 inmates were killed during a riot. With stories like that, is it any wonder there’d be a few vengeful spirits still wandering here?

Moundsville Penitentiary

7. Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area

Gold was discovered in Sumpter, Oregon, in 1862, and between 1912 and 1934, 3 gold dredges operated in the valley district. The dredges weren’t overly sophisticated machines, but that didn’t make them safe. Two people were killed working on the dredges—though neither of them were “Joe Bush.” In 1918, an oiler named Christopher Rowe was greasing winch gears, when the gears started turning and Rowe was sucked in. When that dredge was dismantled to build the new No. 3, the gears were moved—and some say Rowe’s ghost moved with them. But reports of haunting didn’t pick up steam until the 1940s, when workers claimed that “Joe” would move tools and eat forgotten lunches. Some also report the ghost causes lights to flicker and doors to open and close. “Joe” is even said to leave wet footprints on the deck of the dredge.

Sumpter Valley Dredge

6. Myrtles Plantation

When Europeans arrived in America, Native Americans had been living on the land for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the new arrivals didn’t have much respect for that and often built right over important cultural sites—including burial grounds. Myrtles Plantation, in St. Francisville near Baton Rouge, is one building rumored to be right on top of a Native American burial ground. It’s also one of the scariest haunted houses in America, supposedly the home of no less than 12 ghosts. Legend says that up to 10 murders occurred in the house, but only the murder of William Winter is on record. Along with Winter’s ghost, other spectral residents include a young Native American woman, the spirits of a former owner and her 2 children, a murdered slave woman, at least 1 Civil War soldier and a young girl who died in 1868, who reportedly practices voodoo on unsuspecting guests.

"Myrtles Plantation Louisiana". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Myrtles Plantation Louisiana“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

5. Huntingdon College

The Red Lady of Huntingdon College supposedly haunts the former Pratt Hall on the Montgomery campus, and her story is one many of us can relate to. According to legend, a student named Martha arrived to begin her studies at Huntingdon at the behest of her father. Originally from New York, Martha didn’t really want to go to Alabama. The other girls thought she was stand-offish and rude and Martha was unable to make any friends. Embittered, depressed and lonely, Martha committed suicide by slashing her wrists. The student who found her claimed to have seen red flashes of light shooting out of the room as she approached. Today, students say the date of Martha’s death is marked by red flashes of light from the room, and the ghost returns to haunt the building.

"Huntingdon College Flowers Hall" by Spyder Monkey - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Huntingdon College Flowers Hall” by Spyder MonkeyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

4. Lizzie Borden House

The murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in 1892 caused a scandal across the nation. No one knows for sure who committed the crime, but the prime suspect was Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter. The Bordens were butchered with an ax—as a popular ditty went, Lizzie “gave her mother 40 whacks.” Lizzie was acquitted at her trial, but no one else was ever charged. Today, the Lizzie Borden House, where the murders took place, is a bed and breakfast. Daily tours will take you to the rooms where Andrew and Abby were found, as well as to the basement where the ax was supposedly left by the murderer. Ghost hunters say the house is a hotbed of paranormal activity and the owners have a number of ghost cameras set up throughout the house. Some report seeing various players in the crime, including the ghosts of the victims and Lizzie.

"Borden House Present" by DkEgy - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Borden House Present” by DkEgyOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

3. Villisca Ax Murder House

Another famous ax murder case, also unsolved, occurred in the town of Villisca, Iowa, in 1912. Six members of the Moore family and 2 hapless house guests were bludgeoned to death on night in June. Several people were tried, but no one was ever convicted of the crime. The house where the murders took place is reported to be haunted: former tenants claim that they’d seen the shadowy figure of a man standing at the foot of their beds, swinging an ax, and to have heard the sound of children sobbing. Closet doors open and close, clothes are thrown out of dressers and shoes have been reported to fill with blood and move around the room. The house, which is now a museum, has been investigated by many ghost hunters, some of whom claim to have recorded a man saying things like “I killed 6 kids.”

Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go
Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go

2. Queen Esther’s Town Preserve

Many bloody battles were fought in the early days of America, making colonial history ripe for ghosts like Queen Esther. Legend says that Queen Esther, learning of her son’s death, rallied 500-plus villagers and raided a farm, killing at least 2 people in September 1778. A 200-man military force engaged the fierce Iroquian warriors of the village. The Iroquian women and children were caught and executed, and Esther was lynched. Today, near Athens, Pennsylvania, some say you can hear the screaming of the victims. Hunters report seeing a young woman weeping in an oak tree. She disappears and, after the sighting, weapons will fail to fire. Some people believe this is the spirit of Queen Esther trying to prevent more deaths. Others say Esther left a curse that would bring great misfortune to any settler who tried to live on the land where the massacre took place.

Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog
Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog 

1. The Bell Witch Cave

Although the Bell Witch might be one of the most famous stories in American paranormal folklore, nobody is quite sure who—or what—the “witch” was. Some accounts say the witch was a poltergeist, while others think it may have been the curse of a neighbor placed upon the Bell family in Adams, Tennessee. Still others say the neighbor was the witch herself. Whatever the case, the Bell family was tormented between 1817 and 1824: family members were pinched and prodded, animals were spooked for no seeming reason and unusual noises were heard. Eventually, John Bell died, but the witch went on tormenting the family; even today, Bell family descendants claim to be cursed. Although the Bells no longer own the farm property where the haunting took place, a nearby cave, called the Bell Witch Cave, is reputedly haunted and reports of paranormal activity continue to this very day.

"Bell Witch Cave" by Www78 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Bell Witch Cave” by Www78Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

The Best Farmer’s Markets in the U.S.

Heading to the farmer’s market can be an experience all in its own. The atmosphere, the experience of talking with the person who grew the very food you’re buying – it’s something we can’t get at the grocery store. Then there are markets to take it all to the next level. They host games, booths for crafts, trivia where winners earn candy even. Others host live music or DIY baking lessons, and free samples to all who pass. That’s an accurate description of many farmer’s markets throughout the United States. But which ones are the absolute best? What markets offer more than any of the competition? And which ones are worth traveling for? Or at least making a slight vacation detour? We’ve complied this list of some of the very best from around the country:

8. Market on Central -Fort Dodge, Iowa

This is no ordinary market, it’s a full-day event. If you’re willing, that is. Their entire motto is, “Come for breakfast, take home lunch, and stay for dinner,” selling a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Vendors also come with homemade pies, chocolate bars, wine, and crafts. Everything from kites, to clay pots, to clothing has all been found at the huge market. There’s also an active art scene present, allowing guests to enjoy music or watch a live show, they might even purchase a piece of art to take home.

Photo by: Market on Central
Photo by: Market on Central

7. DuPont Circle Fresh Farm Market -Washington, D.C.

Another full-day event, DuPont Circle offers shoppers meals, foods to take home, and plenty of shopping stalls. Buy meat by the pound, seafood, flowers, produce, and get a new outfit while you’re at it. There’s even vendors selling unique (but delicious) foods, like pickles on a stick – choose from several flavors, or crepes that can be filled with tons of different toppings. Then, once you’re good and full take a stroll and look at all the local art!

Photo by: DuPont Circle Fresh Farm Market
Photo by: DuPont Circle Fresh Farm Market

6. South Bend Farmer’s Market -South Bend, Indiana

With nearly 100 years of service under its belt, the city of South Bend has made their market a permanent occurrence. They now host a brick and mortar building and open their doors to the public three days a week (three times as often as most markets!) A move that’s allowed the city to uphold its market traditions, the same ones they’ve been boasting since 1919. And if you get hungry while shopping, stop at their restaurant and fuel up … or just snack on your buys – either way sounds delicious!

Photo by: South Bend Farmer's Market
Photo by: South Bend Farmer’s Market

5. Jefferson County Farmer’s Market -Jefferson County, Washington State

This event perhaps come with one of the most widespread items up for sale. Following seasonal crops, vendors bring berries, apples, pumpkins, flowers, artichokes, arugula, and even mushrooms. Their crafts, too, fall outside of the normal farmer’s market offerings. Things such as paper jewelry and sheep wool dolls can all be found for sale in Jefferson County.

Photo by: Jefferson County Farmer's Market
Photo by: Jefferson County Farmer’s Market

4. Ala Moana Farmers’ Market -Honolulu, Hawaii

Branch out of your comfort zone and try the local cuisine the next time you take a trip to Hawaii. Vendors at the Ala Moana market come prepared with plenty of passion fruit, red Hawaiian papayas, as well as traditional breads and desserts. And if you’re not sure about trying Hawaiian goods, they’ll let you taste test each item first! Goods can be purchased every Saturday, year-round and offer some great experiences for locals and travelers alike.

Photo by: Ala Moana Farmers' Market
Photo by: Ala Moana Farmers’ Market

3. Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market -Statesboro, Georgia

In Statesboro, they take the word “market” and bring it to the next level. Aside from traditional farmer’s fare one would expect, shoppers can also find grits, leather jewelry, bird feeders, cheese sticks, and even herbal salves to help the body heal and relax. This outdoor market closes for the winter, though shoppers can still order items online (seasonal availability is listed), and pick them up at certain drop-off spots.

Photo by: Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market
Photo by: Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market

2. Woodmont Farmer’s Market -Milford, Connecticut

Not every establishment can say they’ve been around since the 1600s, but that’s exactly the case for Woodmont. Braving any season, they’re open Wednesdays to sell pickles, produce, hand-made cheese, and plenty of seafood. And unlike most markets, it’s actually put on by a private party, Robert Treat Farms, adding a unique touch to the event. Its quaint feel and unique décor help take this market to the next level. Oh and did we mention to try the pickles?

Photo by: Woodmont Farmer's Market
Photo by: Woodmont Farmer’s Market

1. Boyne City Farmers Market -Boyne City, Michigan

Expand your market taste buds (and shopping skills) when visiting Michigan. This celebrated market offers berries, granola mixes (including trail mixes), caramel popcorn, and dried fruit. Then display your goods in beautiful handmade glass creations, or if that’s not your thing, choose a metal container instead. All versions can be found at the market. Shoppers can head outdoors every Saturday, then stop by an indoor location during the colder months of November through April.

Photo by: Boyne City Farmers Market
Photo by: Boyne City Farmers Market

Top 6 Dishes to Eat in the Midwest

The Midwest is known as the heartland of the country. Not only because of its location, but because of the values its citizens possess. With their stereotypical thoughtfulness and businesses that help hold down the fort – with “fort” being our country, that is – the Midwest is often seen as the glue that helps hold America together. They’re that important. And did we mention they have some pretty good food? With such a broad span across the nation and roots that stick where they land, the Midwest has become home to some incredible dishes. Whether you’ve visited or are considering a trip just so you can test out the flavors, here are some Midwestern resident faves:

6. Deep Dish Pizza

Hailing from Chicago, the largest town in the entire Midwest (and one of the largest cities in the nation), this pizza is as filling as it is delicious. And when they say deep, they mean it. The crust is enough to fill you up on its own, let alone with all the toppings of choice. Just don’t be alarmed when it comes out red, sauce is traditionally placed on top, rather than underneath the toppings. Stop along a street stand for a slice on the go (though, in all reality, you’ll need a knife and a fork … and multiple napkins), or seek out a local favorite sit-down stop. Just know that, for the best stops, you’ll likely be waiting more than an hour!

deep dish pizza

5. Family-Style Meals

Because they’re known for families – often big ones – the Midwest is home to the “family-style meal.” This means large servings in bowls or large containers. Where dishes are all brought out at once and folks serve themselves … just like you’d eat at home. This can be found at both sit-down and fast-food restaurants, and is often a better deal for your buck. Generally you can choose the number of eaters, and a few sides as well, that way you’re getting a side sample, but still have a pick of your family’s (or friends’) favorites. Casseroles and salads – lettuce or otherwise – are often popular choices.

family meal

4. Wisconsin Cheese

They’re known for it, you’ve heard of it, and thousands eat it every year. And for good reason. This state offers up their favorite dairy dishes in all types of flavors and consistencies, and it’s delicious. If you haven’t yet graced your taste buds with their masterpieces, it’s high time you give it a try. There are even dairy tours for newbies to test out! So much cheese, and so much flavor; if you’re so inclined, pack some crackers for your tasting pleasure.

cheddar cheese

3. Loose Meat Sandwich

Often known as a sloppy Joe, the Midwest takes this classic dish to a new level. Which is to say they take out the tomato sauce, but not the mess. Depending on who’s cooking, the meal can come with various seasoning and breads, though it’s generally served on a bun, hamburger style, and served with traditional burger fare. Like pickles and onions. Brave your version and eat with your hands, or go the safe route (so as to not lose any food) and stick to a fork instead.

Loose Meat Sandwich

2. Juneberry Pie

Dark in color and very blueberry-esque, the Juneberry is a Dakota classic. They’re produced in the summer – hence it’s “June” name – and call for some seriously delicious pies to be made. (Other pastries are created, though pies remain as the local favorite.) Traditional Juneberry crust is made with almond flavoring for a nutty contrast with each bite. The real stuff even calls for almond slices for added texture and garnish.

berry pie

1. Cincinnati Chili

Chili is known in all regions with its respective differences, and in Cincinnati, that means noodles. Much like spaghetti, the chili is topped with a heavy helping of pasta. Chili flavors and add-ins vary from cook to cook, but are most often topped with a handful of cheddar cheese to help send the dish home. Personal favorites, such as jalapeno slices or sour cream, and oyster crackers are also welcome.

Cincinnati Chili

Breads By The State –What and Where to Sample

In a time where so many are going gluten-free, there is still a large portion of the U.S. that just can’t get enough bread. And that might even be an understatement. Rolls in the morning, sandwiches with lunch, and pastries after dinner. Maybe a snack of toast or croutons throughout the day, too. It’s a meal staple that so many have grown to love, even crave throughout their lifetime. What makes us even bigger bread eaters is the sheer variety it can be baked into. There are breads with vegetables, dessert styles, thin slices, and loaves that are baked plump and puffy. If you can imagine it, chances are there’s a bread style already in place. When traveling, however, you have the opportunity to try new recipes in new regions. Enhancing your bread tasting repertoire and expanding just how many blends you’re able to enjoy. When on the road, be sure and order up a fresh slice of some of these specialties:

1. Cronut -New York City

Like its blended name might suggest, the Cronut is a mix between a croissant and a donut. An item that still hosts the latter’s shape, but comes with plenty of flaky and tasty layers. Versions have been done up in all types of styles, offering fillings, toppings, and various levels of infused flavors. And though it can likely be found anywhere, its roots remain firmly planted in New York City, where it was invented at the Dominique Ansel Bakery (named for the creation’s founder). Many customers have tried Ansel’s versions, as well as copycats, and report that the comparison simply doesn’t exist. This is one case where the original is the absolute best, they say.

Photo by: Dominique Ansel Bakery
Photo by: Dominique Ansel Bakery

2. Rustic Breads -Seattle

“Rustic” might not be a term you generally think of when explaining food, but for anyone who’s ever tasted said blends, it absolutely makes sense. Taking its name from throwback recipes, such as potato loaves and rolls, as well as other concoctions that are perfect for meal add-ins (think hearty, yet flavorful), these rustic options are perfect table breads. One of the most popular (and delicious) bakeries serving up these breads can be found in Seattle, at the Macrina Bakery. Stop in and sample their various artisan offerings, or order a baguette or two to go.

Photo by: Macrina Bakery
Photo by: Macrina Bakery

3. Fry Bread -Southwest

Bread might be traditionally baked, but what dish doesn’t gain great flavor when it’s fried? That’s exactly the thought behind fry bread, which serves as a Southwestern staple. (It can be traced back to Native Americans, who cooked up the recipe over campfires rather than searching out an accessible brick oven.) Flat and generally round, it can be eaten with a meal, or under fruit as a dessert. Folks agree it’s delicious either way. Stop at a bakery throughout the Southwest to give your own version a try the next time you’re traveling. Just beware that it’s not the healthiest bread you’ll encounter!

Photo by: Fav Family Recipes
Photo by: Fav Family Recipes

4. Coffee Cakes -Midwest

Technically named “cake” and not bread, this pastry has been eaten in breakfasts anywhere from Colorado, to Minnesota. What makes it so universal, however, is its ability to be personalized to local produce and ingredients. For instance, mixing in different types of fruits, or substituting what flour for organic blends milled right in the area. No matter how it’s mixed, coffee cake has continued to be a scrumptious choice (for breakfast or dessert) that, when paired with a strong cup of coffee, simply can’t be beat. To get the most out of your coffee cake survey, order a different flavor in each state you travel through when crossing the vast Midwestern region.

Photo by: Weeknight Gourmet
Photo by: Weeknight Gourmet

5. Cornbread -The South

This listing comes as no surprise, especially for anyone who’s ever had a cup of gumbo. Cornbread is a Southern staple, and can help beef up any meal. Whether it’s sweet, spicy, full of vegetables, or a simple muffin alongside your favorite barbeque dish. Cornbread has made a solid name for itself and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. In reach or baking time (though to be fair, this stuff cooks fairly quickly in bread world.) Stop along the South for a tasty bout of bread the next time you need a serious carb fixing!

Corn Bread

6. Flatbread -Pennsylvania or other Amish Areas

Flatbread has gotten a serious popularity upgrade in recent times. But the real stuff still hasn’t forgotten its roots. First hailing from Egypt, before making its way into Amish culture, flatbread has become a tasty way to enjoy grains without all the guilt. Because it’s thinner, and therefore less filling, many opt for flatbread as a side or with lighter meals. It can also be paired or topped with cheeses, olives (think naan or pitas), vegetables, or other creamy spreads. Others prefer to dip their flatbread in vinegars and oils to help soak up flavor. No matter how you plate it, these breads are a delicious choice, especially when looking to cut back on vacation calories.


7. Sourdough -San Francisco

While you’re likely to find sourdough bread all over the country (and even the world) traditional San Francisco sourdough is something special that you can’t pass up on. This bread is made in the french style using a unique culture of wild yeast started in the San Francisco area. It’s this home grown starter that gives the bread it’s characteristic tangy flavor that many have come to know and love. If you’re in the Bay Area and looking to try a loaf for yourself, head over to Boudin Bakery, home of “the original San Francisco sourdough”.

Photo by: Boudin Bakery
Photo by: Boudin Bakery

8. Buttermilk Biscuits -The South

Getting into a discussion about biscuits with anyone from the south can be downright dangerous. Everyone has their own opinion on where the best biscuits can be found, and it’s often via a family recipe passed down through generations. It would be pretty hard to visit the southern states like South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana without sampling at least a few of these golden, flaky rich beauties since they’re served for any meal. Enjoy with butter and preserves for breakfast, topped with ham and creole mustard for lunch, and smothered in sausage gravy for a hearty dinner. Check out The Silver Skillet in Atlanta, known for their flaky, melt-in-your-mouth homemade biscuits.


11 State Fairs Worth Visiting This Year

Since the first State Fair was held in Syracuse New York in 1841, State Fairs have been a place for recreation, cooking, music and more. As depicted in movies, conjuring up visions of “the good ‘ol days”, State Fairs today offer some of the same events, but alongside modern exhibitions touting new technologies and of course, new twists on traditional State Fair food. If you can fry it or put it on a stick, chances are someone at the Fair is selling it. From fried ice cream to alligator on a stick, the food booths at the State Fair are always a big attraction. Along with the exhibitions, games and rides, the fair is always a great place to catch a concert. Many entertainers regularly go on the Fair circuit. All in all, the Fair is a great place for families and couples alike, here are our top picks for some of the best State Fairs worth visiting.

11. Oklahoma

The Fair is held in late September at the State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. Fairgrounds are open year round and provide an RV park. Because the Fair is only up and running for a short time, when it isn’t going on various other events take place in this space. Attracting people of all ages, the Fair isn’t just for little kids, it has special days when certain discounts are applied to senior citizens and military. With food as a main attraction, this State Fair is host to The Great Taste of Fair competition, an annual competition between food vendors that offers cash prizes for different categories of Fair food. Livestock competitions and shows, along with carnival rides and a unique interactive frontier experience, the Oklahoma State Fair has it all.


10. Illinois

Each year in mid August, people around the state flock to Springfield, Illinois for the annual State Fair. The Fair has horse shows and races, judged livestock shows and of course, carnival rides and midway games. Besides these classic State Fair gimmes, there’s also popular events like nightly concerts featuring artists such as Rascal Flatts, Sammy Hagar and Hank Williams Jr. Various companies sponsor tents where guests can sample their products while enjoying some entertainment. There’s food like Cajun Gumbo, Cuban sandwiches, Brazilian beef wraps or for the more hearty meal, people can sample a deep fried turkey sandwich. After enjoying some grub, head over to the several vendors selling jewelry, crafts and other items to buy a great souvenir.

Ohio State Fair

9. Indiana

The Indiana State Fair is held each August and located in Indianapolis. This State Fair features fun events like a car show and competition, rodeo and Wild West show, medieval jousting tournament, a tractor pull and even a beauty queen pageant, just to name a few. Concerts and livestock shows are also popular events, along with the classic carnival and midway rides. Here you can find food like ribeye sandwiches, deep fried bubble gum, roasted sweet corn, pork burgers and saltwater taffy. This year, the Indiana Brewers Cup will enter its 17th year which showcases homebrewers and professional beer brewers in a craft beer brewing competition.Cheers!

Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

8. Iowa State Fair

Located at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, the Iowa State Fair is held every August. The Fair offers a little something for everyone. Contests like the children’s Mom Calling contest, joke telling, singing, cow chip throwing and beard growing contests are all some of this Fair’s annual events. Baby pageants, beauty pageants, cribbage and chess tournaments, along with the one of a kind outhouse races, all give everyone the opportunity to participate or sit back and enjoy. Musical entertainment this year includes Def Leppard, Carrie Underwood, the bands Yes, Toto and Alabama, plus the Rock-A Thon starring Dee Snider.

CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com
CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com

7. Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Fair is located in West Allis, Wisconsin, a part of the Milwaukee Metropolitan area. The Fair runs for 10 days in August each year. Some of this year’s entertainment will include the band Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, the classic rock band Boston, Kenny Rogers and the famed aerialist Nik Wallenda. Spin City, the Fair’s ride and entertainment section is always a crowd pleaser. There is even a day dedicated to sampling all the fair food, it’s called Crazy Grazin’ Day where the foods are all discounted, so you can try as much as your stomach will hold! For a real fan favorite, try the Fish and Chips On-a-Stick or Fish breaded in Fries and deep fried, served on a stick.

Photo by: Wisconsin State Fair
Photo by: Wisconsin State Fair

6. Minnesota

The Fair runs from late August to early September at the fairgrounds located in St Paul. This year Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Def Leppard, Styx, Carrie Underwood, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard will be entertaining all the fair goers. Various livestock shows and competitions like a 5K run, alongside carnival rides, the midway, shopping venues and food stalls all make the Minnesota State Fair a popular destination for families. Deep fried ribs, Italian dessert nachos, stuffed Italian meatloaf (on a stick, of course) and roasted pig tails are some of the more, shall we say, “exotic” Fair food.

miker / Shutterstock.com
miker / Shutterstock.com

5. New York

Home of the very first State Fair, the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York runs for 12 days in late August to early September. This year, Syracuse will be hosting its 174th State fair and to celebrate will showcase entertainers like Hank Williams Jr, Patti LaBelle and Comedian Jim Gaffigan. The New York demolition derby and All Star Monster Truck Tour will also take place, along with competitions in cooking, agriculture and creative arts and crafts. Melissa Etheridge, The Steve Miller Band, Rick Springfield, the group Everclear and others will be playing at the Chevy Court, which offers free admission, what a treat!

debra millet / Shutterstock.com
debra millet / Shutterstock.com

4. Oregon

This year celebrates the 150th State Fair in Salem Oregon. Held from late August to early September, attractions include Discover the Dinosaurs which features museum quality pieces, along with animatronic dinosaurs that can educate and entertain. There’s also Dog World where you can see working dogs, Frisbee catching dogs and stop in for a lesson to learn from experts about your pet’s nutrition. Brad’s World of Reptiles features all types of crawly things from rattlesnakes to bizarre glowing scorpions.   Home brewing, amateur winemaking, cooking, livestock competitions and even a talent show are some of the activities fair-goers can find here. A $50 ticket will allow you to experience all the rides on any given day, along with three free games, including a drink or snack. Some of the entertainers this year include Comedian Gabriel Iglesias, Vince Gill, Pat Benatar along with Eric Burdon and the Animals.

Oregon State Fair

3. Nebraska

Located in Grand Island, the Nebraska State Fair has been an annual event since 1868. Held from late August to early September the fair offers daily parades, agricultural exhibitions and judging, free concerts and carnival and Midway games. This years featured entertainers will include Keith Urban, Tony Orlando, Terry Fator from season two of America’s got Talent, and Huey Lewis and The News. The Midway will feature over 40 different rides along with a wide array of games and of course, food vendors. One favorite is the “Around the World” petting zoo featuring camels, llamas, kangaroos, zebras and more.

Photo by: Nebraska State Fair
Photo by: Nebraska State Fair

2. Kentucky

Held for 10 days in late August, the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville is always an anticipated event. The Fair will have cooking contests such as the Evan Williams Bourbon competition (where all dishes must include Bourbon in the recipe), to the Great American Spam competition. The Fair offers exhibitions highlighting the cultural heritage and diversity of Kentucky. This year entertainers will include, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, The Oak Ridge Boys, Aretha Franklin and the Barrels and Boots Music Festival which includes such acts like Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery. Livestock exhibitions and auctions, with daily shows and Midway games and rides are all available here.

Photo by: Kentucky State Fair
Photo by: Kentucky State Fair

1. Texas

The Texas State Fair runs from late September to mid October each year. The fair entrance is highlighted by the mascot known as ‘Big Tex’, a 55 foot cowboy who welcomes all visitors. Located within the State Fair park is the historic Cotton Bowl Football Stadium, this year is unique because there will be two College football games played during the State Fair. The Fair features a car show where manufacturers can display their models, there will also be a livestock exhibition and auction, and of course, carnival rides and Midway games. A Beer and Wine Garden are both located on the grounds, along with numerous food vendors. Take a bite from a Fletcher’s Corn Dog, the original inventors of the corn dog, or if that doesn’t interest you, try any of the other fair food classics. There are also celebrity chefs giving demonstrations and a contest judging the best Fair Food from all the vendors.

Leena Robinson / Shutterstock.com
Leena Robinson / Shutterstock.com