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Photos From America's Iconic Fairs Through the Years

Photos From America's Iconic Fairs Through the Years

Some things are timeless, like corn dogs and cotton candy

H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

Going to the state fair is a tradition for many families. From wacky games to delicious carnival food, few childhood experiences compare to the excitement of visiting your local fair. Here is what the quintessential American state fair experience has looked like throughout the years.

1890

1890

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Crowds watch a parade outside the entrance to Luna Park on Coney Island, New York, one of the most popular American tourist destinations.

1913

1913

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A group of bar attendants draped in American flags stand outside the American Bar at a special fair at a botanical garden.

1920

1920

H. Armstrong Roberts/Stringer/Archive via Getty Images

A group of friends get their picture taken at a county fair.

1926

1926

Hulton Archive/Stringer/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

While you may not know how cotton candy got its fluff, there’s no denying that it’s delicious. In this photo, Hollywood film star and actress Louise Lorraine takes time out at the local fair to purchase the sweet treat.

1930

1930

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While you may not find sideshow performers at popular amusement parks today, they were a hit in the 1930s. Here, a crowd watches a performance in front of circus posters at an outside fair.

1930

1930

F. J. Mortimer/Stringer/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

While today you can ride roller coasters virtually, children in the 1930s enjoyed things the old fashioned way. In this photo, kids ride on a carousel at a day funfair.

1933

1933

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In the ‘30s, you could transport yourself to Paris with “The Streets of Paris,” a sideshow in the Chicago Exposition designed as a luxury liner offering a “French atmosphere” for 25 cents.

1935

1935

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A young girl wears boxing gloves and looks up at an out-of-reach punching bag attraction in a pretty beach town.

1950

1950

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Herman Huseby and a model stand on the roof of a ride at the Rockaway Playland in Belle Harbour, New York. They are working on the incredible mural seen on the side of the building.

1950

1950

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Two models enjoy summer during the 1950s while relaxing at Rockaway Playland in Belle Harbour, New York.

1950

1950

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Three Lions photographer Orlando Suero stands behind a mirrored booth at a fairground.

1955

1955

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An Amish family gathers at a county fair to view the livestock.

1955

1955

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A young boy looks at a miniature carnival in Philadelphia, one place you need to visit in your lifetime.

1955

1955

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A soda pop stall gets ready for the influx of thirsty people when the gates of the amusement park open to the public.

1956

1956

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A young boy from a Norwegian choir plays an arcade game while on a visit to New York, home to some of the best restaurants in America.

1998

1998

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Children enjoy a fairground ride during Eid al-Adha celebrations in New York. The worldwide holiday is observed with prayer and by spending time with family.

2001

2001

Tim Boyle/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Tamia Haynes, 2, contemplates an opportunity to milk a cardboard cow during a preview celebration of the Illinois State Fair at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. The program allowed kids who lived in the city to participate in various country-themed activities.

2001

2001

Bill Pugliano/Stringer/Via Getty Images News

A newborn calf begins to stand on her legs for the first time at the Miracle of Life Exhibit at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit, one of the most underrated cities in America. The Michigan State Fair began in 1849.

2001

2001

Bill Pugliano/Stringer/Via Getty Images News

Eric Merritt of Eastpointe, Michigan, competes in the cherry pie eating contest at the Michigan State Fair. As the state’s most iconic pie, the contest makes sense.

2002

2002

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Cotton candy is one of those iconic foods you find at state fairs, and this young girl has her eye on the prize at the Virginia State Fair in Richmond.

2002

2002

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Coney Island Sideshow professor Todd Robbins watches as student Adam Rinn stands on another student who’s sandwiched between nail boards during a class at the Coney Island Sideshow school in Brooklyn, New York.

2002

2002

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People try to win plush animal prizes by playing a game of skill at the Virginia State Fair in Richmond, Virginia, one of the best American towns to visit in Autumn.

2002

2002

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Coney Island sideshow artist Marie Roberts paints a banner with her students during a class in Brooklyn, New York. The Coney Island school teaches students a variety of fun new skills, including fire eating, blockhead, sword swallowing and broken glass walking.

2003

2003

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Put going to the “Moon Glow” ceremony on your bucket list. The skirts of hot air balloons are simultaneously illuminated at the annual event, which takes place in Troutman, North Carolina.

2003

2003

Spencer Platt/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Looking for a fun summer trip to take? Check out the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. This photo features the 2003 fair, where teens wait to be judged in a cow contest.

2003

2003

Spencer Platt/Staff/Via Getty Images News

At the annual Iowa State Fair, you can indulge in Chicken on a Stick — not to be confused with food-court favorite Hot Dog on a Stick.

2003

2003

Spencer Platt/Staff/Via Getty Images News

The Iowa State Fair has fun carnival rides including the gondola featured in the photo. And if you ever make the trip to see the fair, make sure you stop at these cool roadside attractions in the Midwest along the way.

2003

2003

Spencer Platt/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Heading to the Iowa State Fair is one sign you’re from the Midwest. Here, a boy can be seen trying on a cowboy hat at the iconic fair.

2005

2005

Tim Boyle/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Talk about some cute animals. In this photo, pigs can be seen darting from their starting gate during a pig race at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Illinois.

2007

2007

Scott Olson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

State Fairs are a great place to go if you’re an animal lover. In this photo, Kylie Schlichte waits to show Muff in competition at the Iowa State Fair.

2011

2011

Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Republican presidential candidate and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talks to voters at the Des Moines Register's Soapbox during the second day of the Iowa State Fair.

2011

2011

Justin Sullivan/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Great for casseroles, summer barbecues and soup, corn is a staple across the board. In this photo, a blue ribbon is displayed next to ears of corn in the agriculture building during the Iowa State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

A man tries to see how fast he can throw a baseball at the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg, West Virginia, an incredible state to visit during fall.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

A beautiful sunset can be seen behind the Ferris wheel at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

A man sells a toy at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

One of the contests at the West Virginia State Fair is for best sheep.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

A woman carries some delicious regional food at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

A man falls off a mechanical bull at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

People eat corn, a great summer food, at the West Virginia State Fair. People from across the region travel to the fair, which hosts various events including equestrian and livestock demonstrations along with a handful of carnival rides.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

At the 2012 West Virginia State Fair, toys from happy TV shows like “Dora The Explorer” and “Spiderman” can be seen on display.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Pack up your RV and head for a road trip to the West Virginia State Fair. In this photo, fairgoers stand under a ride at the carnival's 88th anniversary.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Boys and girls compete with their sheep at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Two young boys sip a regional drink at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

People watch as a dog catches a frisbee at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

Mark Wilson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Corn dogs may seem like a retro food, but at state fairs, the snack is iconic. In this photo, corn dogs can be seen on display at the West Virginia State Fair.

2012

2012

JIM WATSON/Staff/AFP via Getty Images

Former U.S. President Barack Obama, who got his start as a teacher, gets a hug from Joy Dannelly as he visits the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, during an unannounced stop on his three-day campaign bus tour.

2013

2013

Andrew Burton/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Men play a dunk-tank game at the North Dakota State Fair in 2013 in Williston, North Dakota, one of the happiest states in America.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

A boy and his mother react as he wins in a water gun race on the first day of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair in Miami, one of the most expensive travel destinations in America.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

Two kids prepare to compete against each other in a water gun race on the first day of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair during the fair's 64th anniversary.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

People head into the glass house on the first day of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

Candy apples are one of those childhood desserts that were a necessity when visiting your local state fair. In this photo, the treat can be seen on display at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

People ride down the Euroslide at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

A fairgoer eats a mouthwatering sandwich on the first day of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.

2015

2015

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

Lisandra Miller bites into a funnel cake on the first day of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair. Funnel cake at a state fair is one of those treats that not even the best dessert shop in your state can compete with.

2015

2015

Justin Sullivan/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Sheep are shown during the Iowa State Fair, which is one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the United States.

2015

2015

Justin Sullivan/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Leave your pets at home, at the Iowa State Fair, there are plenty of animals around, including cattle, which can be seen in this photo from 2015.

2015

2015

Scott Olson/Staff/Via Getty Images News

A vendor takes a food order at a concession stand at the Iowa State Fair.

2015

2015

Justin Sullivan/Staff/Via Getty Images News

Young fairgoers watch a cattle competition during the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. And while going to the fair is a tried-and-true summer activity, it’s not the only way warm weather has been celebrated in the past. This is how people spent their time at the beach through the years.

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