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The State of State And County Fairs45:25
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Jacki Lyden in for Tom Ashbrook

Fried beer, pumped-up pumpkins and blue ribbon 4-H bovines. Come with us to state and local fairs.

Luke Gunn, left, and Jacqueline Allee, right, both of Pueblo, have their picture taken on the midway for an engagement photo session at the first Denver County Fair in Denver. (AP)
Luke Gunn, left, and Jacqueline Allee, right, both of Pueblo, have their picture taken on the midway for an engagement photo session at the first Denver County Fair in Denver. (AP)

The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, the pie’s are entered for their blue ribbons, the family buggy hooked up to Old Betsy – wait, if it’s not 1911, what are we doing turning out in droves for the fair?

Yet county and state fairs remain one of the most enduring American institutions ever –- Pennsylvania alone has over 200, the Butter Lady of Iowa still sculpts butter bovines, and the Fresno Livestock Judge is on demand countrywide.

Generating thousands of part-time jobs, the County Fair links back to agrarian times.

This hour On Point: Americans at the fairgrounds.
-Jacki Lyden
Guests:

Drake Hokanson, author of Purebred & Homegrown: America’s County Fairs.

Mark Zable, inventor of Fried Beer and food vendor at the Texas State Fair.

John Hanschen, co-owner and operator of The Mighty Thomas Carnival, which provides games, rides and food stands to fairs big and small around the country.

Sarah Pratt, Butter Cow sculptor of the Iowa State Fair.

Stephen Chambers, executive director of the Western Fairs Association, a non-profit trade association serving the fair industry throughout the Western United States and Canada.


More:

This hour, we'll hear:

“Main Title (Our State Fair)” from State Fair
2010 NJ State Fair Junior Fiddling Contest by Sleepy Man Banjo Boys
“State Fair” by Michael Breen
“The Fair” by Ann Reed

Sarah Pratt and last year's Butter Cow of the Iowa State Fair:

Sarah Pratt, current butter cow sculptor at the Iowa State Fair and her 2010 butter cow. (Courtesy Iowa State Fair)
Sarah Pratt, current butter cow sculptor at the Iowa State Fair and her 2010 butter cow. (Courtesy Iowa State Fair)

Here's a gallery of photos of fairs big and small:

Here's a video on fried food at the fair, with Mark Zable. Here, he wins an award for fried beer.
http://youtu.be/QY_Np72oKcM

Iowa State Fair - Hog Calling Contest
http://youtu.be/3AsrCZdzvAY

The Illinois State Fair
http://youtu.be/ZTssXkFTzFA

Texas State Fair Fries Up
http://youtu.be/K4qjHHWZdGg

This program aired on August 2, 2011.

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