It’s time to celebrate the best, the weirdest, the most Wisconsin of our great state. Get ready for parking on people’s lawns, hot days, a downpour or two and the sights, smells and sounds of the Wisconsin State Fair.
The fair kicks runs until Aug. 12. Here’s a State Fair bucket list.
1. Giant slide
If you haven’t sat on a burlap sack and ripped down the giant slide, can you really say you’ve enjoyed the Wisconsin State Fair? This year marks the 50th anniversary of the giant slide at the fair. The 200-foot slide costs $2.50 to ride.
2. Load up on cream puffs
It is basically THE thing to eat at the Wisconsin State Fair. To keep up with demand, bakers work 24 hours a day making cream puffs. Last year, fairgoers ate 400,000. However, it’s a controversial option. In a poll on the Journal Sentinel Facebook page, people overwhelmingly said they loved the pastry, but there were many naysayers. A six-pack costs $18.
We get creative with this messy but delicious State Fair staple.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
3. Cheer on the pigs
There’s an arena devoted to these speedy little piggies. The Saz’s Pig Races are run daily at 10:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., so there’s ample opportunity to cheer on your favorite racing pig.
4. Try all the milk flavors
Cups of milk at the Milwaukee Bucks Milk House are 50 cents. Classics like chocolate and strawberry are available. Last year’s newbies included sea salt caramel and peanut butter. Sea salt caramel is back (not peanut butter though). This year, green mint milk is the new flavor.
5. Eat something on a stick
Corn dogs and cotton candy are just a warm-up to the food-on-a-stick category. The stick makes the food portable, so it makes sense for a fair. But things have gotten crazy in the last few years. Case in point, Ants On-A-Stick are a thing, and French Onion Soup On-a-Stick seemingly defies the laws of physics (but it’s just the flavors of French onion soup).
All of the following items are new this year and are also on sticks: Bacon Wrapped Pork, Breakfast Sausage in a Waffle, Chicken in a Waffle, Chocolate Covered Gouda, Deconstructed Wisconsin Woodlands Grilled Cheese, Grilled Mango, Habanero and Shrimp, Milky Way in a Waffle, Pina Colada Shrimp, Pizza in a Waffle. You’ve got options.
6. Pet an animal
We all watch animal videos on the internet. Well, this is your chance to make your YouTube animal dreams happen in real life. And meet a farmer while you’re there (and ask if it’s OK to touch the animals).
The fairgrounds have two barns devoted to cattle, one for pigs, another for sheep and goats. You’ve heard of miniature horses, well, there are also miniature donkeys. There are chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep, the floppiest rabbits you could imagine and more.
7. Get a giant stuffed animal
There’s a point system for this bucket list item. You can buy a stuffed animal — that’s not worth any points in this arbitrary system but you do have a stuffed animal, so that’s a win. You get one bonus point for actually winning a giant stuffed animal in a fair game. Add another bonus point for seeing a mom pushing a giant teddy bear in a stroller. Add 100 points if you are the mom pushing the bear in the stroller.
8. Sample Wisconsin craft beer
We can all agree that beer is one of Wisconsin’s greatest products. Naturally, there is plenty of beer to try at the fair. Hit up The Micro for Wisconsin-made brews. And you’ll find limited edition barrel-aged taps from Goose Island, Third Space, Central Waters, Good City and Founders at 3 and 7 p.m. daily at the Goose Island Ale House.
On a hot day, stop by the Sprecher Landing for frozen nonalcoholic soda drinks and some beer versions. Mocha Frostie made with Imperial Stout? Yes, please.
9. Count the cover bands
Music is a big part of the Wisconsin State Fair. Reba McEntire is playing, so is TLC, Alice Cooper, Hanson and more. But if you are not catching one of the Main Stage acts, stop by one of the 30-plus free side stages. Many acts play original music, but if you’re a fan of ’80s rock or country, you’ll find a group playing a tribute. And let’s not forget those Kids from Wisconsin.
10. Shake hands with a politician
Not sure if you know this, but we have some elections coming up. The primary elections are Aug. 14, so you better believe the prospective and current governors, senators, congresspeople, sheriffs, etc. will all be at the fair. There should be a point system for this one. Get selfies with all eight Democratic primary candidates for governor and you win a giant stuffed bear (just an idea).
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