The Fairest of Them All
Green Country’s massive outdoor gathering, better known as the Tulsa State Fair, continues to be a hot ticket thanks to old traditions, new ideas and plenty of deep-fried somethings.
There may be a chill in the air or perhaps the Oklahoma temperature will reach a record high. But as unpredictable as Tulsa weather is, one thing is certain: it’s fair season.
Since its inception in 1903, the Tulsa State Fair has provided an opportunity for people to gather as a community for fun and educational experiences in a family-friendly environment showcasing food, education, entertainment and agriculture. Though the attractions, vendors and midway fare have changed over the years, this year’s fair promises to deliver on a unique Oklahoma celebration of Americana.
“Every year we look at what’s new and exciting in the industry so we can bring it to Tulsa,” says marketing and development supervisor Sarah Thompson, who has been with the Tulsa State Fair for 10 years. “This year, we’re excited to bring the Dark Knight jousting shows.”
This medieval themed, high-energy event that showcases medieval warfare and equestrian games is sure to delight young and old, as should the Little Ray’s Dinosaur exhibit at the Just for Kids Building. “This exhibit is filled with reptiles, fossils, and stage show,” says Thompson. “It’s very visual and interactive, and sure to be great fun for the whole family.”
This year, children can participate in the passport program by picking up a map that guides them to stations where they get their passports stamped for visiting exhibits. Not only will they have fun discovering new exhibits and learning, but Thompson says they will have a free souvenir to take home from the fair. “One of the main things we focus on is how to educate fair-goers on agriculture and history,” she says.
Safety is also a priority at the fair. One of the best things parents can do when they first arrive is to stop by the sheriff ’s booth to pick up a wristband for their child with contact information so in case they get separated, they can more efficiently be reunited. “We tell the children to find someone in uniform and show them their wristband so they can be reunited with their parents quickly,” Thompson says.
Last year, North American Midway provided the midway services with over 60 rides, including 11 new rides. This year, they return with new rides and games sure to delight, including the Sky Ride that is only operated during the 11 days of the fair.
After taking a spin on the rides, you can relax at one of the many shows ranging from acrobats to the All-Star Stunt Dog Challenge. Or you may want to challenge yourself and get into the action at the NCAA Spirit of Champions Interactive Zone, which is always fun for participants and spectators.
When it comes to fair food, Templeton the rat in Charlotte’s Web said is best: “The fair is a virtual smorgasbord.” Whether cruising down the midway or visiting the River Spirit Expo, you could attend the fair every day it’s open and probably still not sample all the food.
“While the community comes out for the traditional corn dogs, funnel cakes, and frozen lemonade, they also want to try new, unique sweet and savory foods,” says Thompson. From the doughnut burger to deep-fried butter and Oreos, a fair-goer never knows what might pop up on the midway. The cinnamon roll sundae and bacon funnel cake are sure to be new favorites, but Thompson is most excited about the gourmet popsicle, which will be offered in dairy and nondairy forms. “I think the unique flavor is the jalapeno popsicle,” says Thompson.
Though it has become synonymous with deep-fried foods, colorful Midway rides, animal races, and pop performances, the fair is an attempt to educate the community about the state’s local bounty. That’s where it differs from a theme park. Organizers are re-emphasizing the agricultural piece to families.
This year, the premier livestock shows feature the best of the best from all 77 counties of Oklahoma and some out of state exhibitors. Over 12,000 animals will be available for viewing.
While you’re exploring all the livestock and attractions the fair has to offer, don’t forget to stop by the River Spirit Expo, which features 10 acres of food and shopping, including 600 booths selling everything from mattresses to garlic grinders and those popular As Seen on TV products.
If you prefer browsing the homemade goods, the competitive exhibit displays represent many talented Oklahoma participants. Entries and winners will be on display in Central Park Hall. “They have great, unique products, so come out and support local businesses,” Thompson says.
Live music plays a significant role in fair entertainment, and this year 50 bands are scheduled to perform 90 sets. Music from local favorites, like Brandon Clark and Travis Kidd, to national recording artists like Easton Corbin and Echosmith will be featured on one of the many stages throughout the fair.
Tulsa State Fair
Expo Square | 4145 E. 21st St. | Tulsa
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