It’s County Fair Time! by Charlene Sands

 Did you know that the longest continually running county fair began in Watertown in New York’s Jefferson County and has been ongoing for 193 years! Watertown is also known as the birthplace of the Five and Dime and the safety pin of all things. What was once a way to bring the community together with livestock and horse races, for farmers to share ideas and see who had grown the best fruit, who baked the best pies, the county fairs of modern day has all those things along with so much more.

Our local county fair runs for the entire month of September and brings in hundreds of thousands of people from all over the state.  The LA County Fair has a list of attractions such as Carnival Rides, Midway Games, Zipline, Kiddie Zone, Wild West show, Rawhide Dude Ranch and Farm Animals. As an parent, spending the day at the fair meant lots and lots of walking, trying to find shade, since it was usually the hottest part of the summer, consuming snow cones to keep cool and trying to keep track of my very excited children. It was crowds and heat and junk food eating.  It was a farm animal petting zoo and horse races and cowboys strutting their stuff. 

As a child, I was most excited about the midway games. I especially loved ski ball games. And shooting waterguns at a target to fill a balloon, with my seated opponents ready to outshoot me.  I remember riding on a carousel and eating yummy funnel cakes.   I remember walking grounds and seeing beautiful garden exhibits, listening to country music all day long and at night watching concerts under the stars. I’ve seen Travis Tritt and Sonny and Cher perform live! I have missed out on some really big name artists though. Toby Keith and Martina McBride recently performed in fairs close by. I’ll have to catch them next time. Ugh, they are two of my favorites and I’m sorry I missed seeing them!   But I’ll always have great memories of spending the day with my family, eating hot dogs on a stick, the party-like atmosphere and festivities.

Tell me about your county fair experiences. Did you ever go?  If not, what do you think you’d enjoy the most of the activities listed?  One commenter will win a Two-in-One book from my Desire backlist.

Stop by my website at  or if you’d like a free magnet or pen send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:

Charlene Sands

PO Box 4883

West Hills, CA  91308

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27 thoughts on “It’s County Fair Time! by Charlene Sands”

  1. We were really involved in the county fair when I was a kid and when my own children were young. We took calves when I was young, plus we sewed and baked for 4-H.
    I am now starving for funnel cake, thanks a lot!

  2. As a kid I always loved the county fair,,,seems to have downsized a lot over the years,I know its about too expensive to go,,the entrance price is so expensive,,as a kid we got in free but spent our money on the candy an games

  3. Hi Vickie – I agree about the price of admission. I was floored when I saw this years pricing. I don’t remember it being free here, but it wasn’t much to get in. Yes, we’d spend our money on carnival rides and games…and food!!

  4. Love going to the county & state fair. I just do not go every year. All the smells, the sights, what amazing things to experience… I am amazed at some of the crazy things they serve to eat… love the fun games, but will admit not to love the cost of everything.

  5. We used to go to the state fair every single year, but in the last 5-7 years, it has gotten too expensive. It used to be $1.00 to get in, and now it’s like $10.00 without a discount ticket, and if you get a discount it’s still at least $5 just to walk in the gate. I don’t ride the rides anymore, but when my kids were little, even 20 years ago, I thought the cost was pretty outrageous–something like $20 for an armband for all day, but even at that, you’ve spent close to $60 to get in and buy armbands just for your kids. When I was little we’d get free tickets, handed out at school, and they would turn school out for one certain “STATE FAIR DAY” so that everyone could go. Food is another outrageous cost. And how can you go for the day and not buy food? SIGH. Can y’all tell I’m wishing for the ‘good ol’ days’ again? LOL Indian Tacos and funnel cake are my faves.

  6. We have The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), also known as The Ex, is an annual event beginning in August that takes place at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada during the 18 days leading up to and including Canadian Labour Day.The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation.
    I have spent many a great hour at this event when I was younger.. Even up to 30’s and 40’s I attended events. Now it is not so easy for me all the walking, but I so miss allthe wonderful food and exibits to brouse and the midway and all the fun games. Ah the day of my youth.

  7. Hi Colleen – I thought the fried pickles were weird, but I will admit I didn’t try one, so who knows. I plan to go one day this month when the weather cools up. It’s really hard to do that much walking when it’s so hot. Very little shade usually too. But I love to see local vendors and feel good about supporting them. 🙂

  8. Delightful blog, Charlene. When I was a youngster, my dad taught Vocational Agriculture at the local high school. His students, most from farm families, always had animals to show at the fair, and I loved going with him to the big barns to see them. He taught me the names of the different breeds of sheep, pigs and cattle. Some I still remember. I haven’t been to a fair in years but the animals would still be my favorite thing. Thanks for bringing back a happy memory.

  9. Hi Cheryl – I think the tickets here in So Cal are up to $15.00 though I think there are ways to get discounts. It’s true. It’s like Disneyland, the cost of admission is outrageous, and then you have to buy food and other stuff. I mean… you have to get funnel cakes and play the games!!:)

  10. Hi Elizabeth — our fair has pig races this year. They are big on animals and it’s always a fun place for the kids. How fun it must have been for you to go with your dad. Those are memories you will always treasure. 🙂

  11. Our county fair has bercome so small that we seldom go.This year they did not even have a carnival, just those bouncy house things. One thing that is always good at the county fair is the food as it is all done by the churches and local organizations.

    We did go to the state fair for a couple of days. The concerts are super and most are free so the gate addmission of $10 doesn’t seem like so much. The grandkids did ride a couple of rides but the one they enjoyed the most was put on by a local company who gave free combine rides around the race track. They loved it!

    We mostly ate at the local school food stand where we had very tame but super delicious ham and cheese sandwhich and pie!

    Other foods being sold were just a little too wierd for us: deepfat fried oreos, twinkies, pickles, butter(never saw it but sounds aweful) and chocolate covered bacon all served on a stick!

  12. Hi Charlene, I love this post, and I just love our county fair. Boo, we had to miss it this year as we were in Tahoe. And Martina McBride performed, sigh. Last year we got to see Trace Adkins, one of my favorites. I haven’t entered for quite a while, but I did win a ribbon in table settings once, and hubby won first place with two photographs. But I think my favorite is Uncle Leo’s Barn…full of baby animals. My fave is always the tiny donkey. Ah, I can’t wait til next year.

  13. Hi Connie — Oh wow, Connie! That food sounds horrible. Deep fried butter? Ugh. The state fair sounds like fun though and you had a chance to support your school which is always a good thing!!

  14. Hi Tanya
    Oh, I know. I missed Martina too. I would have gone just to see her, but I wasn’t available that day. Congrats on winning ribbons!! That’s fun and I knew you’d love the baby animals best!!

  15. As a child, I participated in 4-H and we always took our sheep to be showed at the county fair hoping we would get to go to the Colorado State Fair. What fun we had and great hopes of winning a ribbon.
    As a Home Economics teacher, I got called on quite a bit to judge the sewing projects, One time at the Maricopa County Fair in the Phoenix area, I judged horse blankets/decorative coverings. The girls who sewed these items participated in the All Arabian Horse Show and made their beautiful garments. That was a unique experience. Loved doing that.
    Put that on your bucket list to attend the All Arabian Horse Show in Scottsdale, AZ it is awe inspiring if you love to view beautiful horses.

  16. My fondest memory of a fair was actually the food (lol). I had my first Indian taco at one and thought it was the best shell I have ever ate. If you have a chance try one.

  17. Growing up we went to the State Fair every year, and spent hours in the cow barn with my grandparents looking over the competitions’ cows. I still go every year. Fair food is the best, and I always think of Templeton the rat from Charlotte’s Web singing “The Fair is a Veritable Schmorgesborg.” :o) I love funnel cakes, but my new favorite is a fried Milky Way.

  18. Charlene,
    I didn’t realize Watertown had the oldest fair. It isn’t that far from my northern NY hometown (a couple hours maybe). Unfortunately we never went. We did participate in our own Clinton County Fair every year I was in high school and part of college. I was involved in 4-H and worked their dairy bar everyday. When I wasn’t on duty, I roamed the fair taking in all the sites. Many families that were showing cattle would stay in the livestock area for the entire week. Cots were set up in stalls adjacent to their animals. The whole family would be involved which resulted in much younger siblings often being underfoot. One summer I got the nickname “Mother Goose” because I always had a group of little ones trailing after me.

  19. Continued – This year, our fall festival at church will have the Old Time Country Fir theme. We will have funnel cakes, sno cones names. I have lined up wthe w9 temot themwith h

  20. Hi Kirsten – I would love to try a fried Milky Way, Certainly sounds better than fried butter, but I must admit I’m not super adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, even in the junk variety!!

  21. Charlene: Navajo fry bread with beans and meat. Just like a regular taco but made with this wonderful fry bread. If it’s served with honey I believe it’s called a sopaipilla (misspelled), but that is a great desert also. I live in Georgia now so no more fry bread tacos or sopaipillas.

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