The Best Fairs and Festivals in Every State To Hit This Summer

Treat yourself to a unique cultural experience by hitting up each state’s most popular local fair this summer.

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Updated July 10, 2024
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Whether you’re traveling across the country or just across the state, visiting a local festival or fair is a great way to add some local color to your trip while saving money on travel

But plenty of cities host fairs and carnivals throughout the summer season — so which ones are really worth your time and budget?

We’re happy to answer that question for you. Keep reading to learn about the best summer festivals in each state.

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Alabama: Fyffe UFO Day (Fyffe)

Simon Tang/Adobe hot air balloons

On the last Saturday of August, the town of Fyffe brings you a little closer to the skies — not by booking you a trip on the nearest UFO, but by hosting hot air balloon rides at the Fyffe Town Park. Vendors, food, booths, and live entertainment round out the fun.

Alaska: Copper River Salmon Jam (Cordova)

lockyfoto/Adobe atlantic silver salmon

Help preserve natural salmon habitats, including crucial salmon run locations, by participating in Cordova’s annual Salmon Jam. Race in the (human) salmon run, dance to live local music, and indulge in some delicious local salmon.

Arizona: Chili Festival (Flagstaff)

Holly/Adobe chili cheese

The first weekend of every August, Flagstaff residents gather for several great chili cookouts. First responders compete on Saturday morning, while restaurants compete for the winning title on Sunday. Admission is free, but sampling the goods costs $10 per person.

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Arkansas: Tontitown Grape Festival (Tontitown)

Rattanachai/Adobe purple organic fruit

Plenty of towns have a watermelon festival, but Tontitown bucks the trend with an annual grape festival. Admission is free, as is parking and entertainment, though you’ll pay a fee to participate in the grape stomp, Run for the Grapes 5K Walk/Run, and carnival activities.

California: Laurel StreetFair World Music Festival (Oakland)

Day Of Victory Stu./Adobe sitting play acoustic guitar

One day a year, Oakland’s Laurel Street transforms into a jubilant hub of global music. Around 15,000 people attend this one-day, family-friendly event, and you won’t pay a cent to enjoy live music that represents Oakland’s rich cultural history.

Colorado: Crested Butte Wildflower Festival (Crested Butte)

ArturSniezhyn/Adobe wildflowers on green meadow

This one-of-a-kind celebration of wildflowers spans ten days in mid-July. With scenic hikes and more than 200 classes on topics like flower photography, cooking with flowers, and water coloring, the festival makes it easy for you to enjoy wildflowers in whatever way you want.

Connecticut: Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival (Hartford)

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Experience the Caribbean’s diverse cultures, flavors, music, and dance at Hartford’s free, family-friendly annual festival. You’ll hear Caribbean and Caribbean-inspired music in genres like reggae, gospel, salsa, and calypso while the kids participate in a talent show at the Children’s Village.

Delaware: Water Lantern Festival (Wilmington)

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At the annual Water Lantern Festival, you can launch a beautiful, glowing water lantern to commemorate a person or event in your life. You’ll be able to write names and memories on your lantern, enjoy the beauty of the lantern-lit lake, and browse booths from local vendors.

Florida: GeckoFest (Gulfport)

ellinnur/Adobe hanging plants for sale

Gulfport’s gecko-themed, end-of-summer celebration is completely free, which makes it a solid budget-friendly activity for vacationers enjoying some summer sun. The fair features street performers, live music, and 200+ booths from local artists, craftspeople, and restaurants.

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Georgia: Jollof Rice Festival (Atlanta)

Abi Olayiwola/Adobe jollof rice

Jollof is a West African rice dish made with rice, tomatoes, a rich variety of spices — and a host of other ingredients, depending on the chef and the recipe. At Atlanta’s Jollof Rice Festival, you’ll be able to sample jollof dishes from a range of West African countries and cultures and vote for your favorites.

Hawaii: Mō'ili'ili Summer Fest (Honolulu)

Kenishirotie/Adobe japanese matcha and mochi

The Mō'ili'ili summer festival, which takes place in Honolulu’s Chinatown, celebrates the rich intersection of Hawaiian and Asian cultures on the island of Oahu. While the festival won’t feature a traditional Bon Dance performance this year, the kids will still enjoy kingyo sukui (fish scooping), and everyone can snack on festival-specific flavors like brown sugar mochi sherbet.

Idaho: Magic Valley Folk Festival (Burley)

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Once a year, folk performers from around the world converge on the small town of Burley, Idaho, for several days of unique, jaw-dropping folk dances. Take your involvement to the next level by becoming a host family for members of traveling troupes.

Illinois: Balloons Over Vermilion (Danville)

Kelly/Adobe hot air balloon fiesta

Hot air balloon rides might be the biggest draw of the Balloons Over Vermilion festival, but we recommend sticking around for the free hands-on hot air balloon education. Kids and adults alike can learn the mechanics behind balloon flight and sign up for ballooning camps to learn how to fly.

Indiana: Freudenfest (Oldenberg)

Christian Müller/Adobe bratwurst on a large grill

Since 1976, the town of Oldenberg has celebrated its German roots in spectacular fashion. While you’ll find traditional German-American staples like brats, pretzels, and sauerkraut, you’ll also find more surprising events like the naked chicken toss and the Dachshund race.

Iowa: Old Time Power Show (Cedar Falls)

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Each August, the Antique Acres museum, campground, and event center hosts the Old Time Power Show, which showcases old machinery from across the state. While the event’s highlight is the after-dark light show (featuring everything from antique tractors to steam engines), visitors also enjoy demonstrations of old tools in action.

Kansas: Kansas Wheat Festival (Wellington)

Sergey/Adobe wheat spikelets in field

Learn about Kansas’s rich history of wheat farming at the 124th annual Wellington Wheat Festival. Along with instructional displays of cow milking and wheat threshing, you can participate in everything from hotdog-eating competitions to cow chip tossing contests.

Kentucky: Great Inland Seafood Festival (Newport)

kyrychukvitaliy/Adobe seafood mussels cooked outdoors

Living in a landlocked state doesn’t have to keep you from indulging in fantastic seafood. While the festival’s specialty might be its supremely affordable Maine lobsters, you’ll be able to enjoy everything from paella to fish tacos at the fish markets and food booths that line the streets.

Louisiana: Delcambre Shrimp Festival (Delcambre)

milazvereva/Adobe grilled large shrimp

For 75 years, Delcambre has thrown a five-day festival celebrating the shrimp and the boats that form the backbone of the state’s economy. If you love shrimp, there’s no better place to feast on dishes like shrimp sauce piquant, fried shrimp, shrimp salad, and boiled shrimp.

Maine: Maine Potato Blossom Festival (Fort Fairfield)

Tricky Shark/Adobe chef making potato chips outdoor

Lobsters might be Maine’s specialty, but the state’s long-running Potato Blossom Festival draws attention to its rich agricultural background. The event kicks off with a parade but goes on to include a potato queen pageant, antique tractor pulls, and a rousing rubber duck race.

Maryland: Augustoberfest (Boonsboro)

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Why wait until October to celebrate German food, beer, and cultural traditions? Each year, the town of Boonsboro brings Oktoberfest to August in a festival that includes live music, folk dance, keg tapping, and free kid-specific entertainment like Punch and Judy shows.

Massachusetts: Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival (Revere Beach)

Paul Vinten/Adobe sculpture of greek god poseidon

At the International Sand Sculpting Festival, you’ll watch sand artists bring their masterpieces to life on the beach while enjoying food, carnival rides, live music, and a fireworks display at the end of the night.

Michigan: Mac and Cheese Festival (Kalamazoo)

William A. Morgan/Adobe serving chicken mac and cheese

Celebrate Michigan’s dairy farmers at the state’s biggest mac and cheese festival, which features more than 25 varieties of mac and cheese paired with over 150 local craft beers. If you want to attend, plan ahead — the festival sells out every year.

Minnesota: Fire and Ice Festival (Chaska)

R. Gino Santa Maria/Adobe Fireworks display

The city of Chaska brings fire and ice together by combining fantastic nightly fireworks displays with a daily bonspiel, or curling tournament, in one fun-filled weekend in July. The festival’s bean bag tournament includes cash prizes for the winners.

Mississippi: Watermelon Carnival (Water Valley)

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Water Valley’s first Watermelon Carnival took place in 1931 when locals threw together a celebration to raise spirits during the Great Depression. These days, the carnival includes fireworks, an antique car show, street dancing, arts, food, and more.

Missouri: Sliced Bread Day (Chillicothe)

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If there’s anything better than sliced bread, it can only be the city of Chillicothe’s annual Sliced Bread Day. Kids can compete in a sliced bread pageant while would-be bakers compete to win the title of Greatest Bread Baker.

Montana: Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous (Lewiston)

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Cowboy culture is very much alive in the central Montana town of Lewiston. At the annual cowboy poetry and music festival, cowboy poets read their work aloud, musicians perform Western songs, and vendors hawk authentic wares crafted with care.

Nebraska: Kool-Aid Days (Hastings)

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Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings nearly 100 years ago, and the town has been celebrating this distinctive Nebraska beverage in a yearly festival since 1998. While sipping on your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid is definitely a top activity at Kool-Aid Days, the grand parade and cute kid contest are draws as well.

Nevada: National Basque Festival (Elko)

ainhoa/Adobe danse traditionnelle basque

Elko’s annual Basque festival celebrates the area’s cultural history with a delicious spread of Basque food, traditional Basque dance performances, and a woodchopping competition.

New Hampshire: North Country Moose Festival (Colebrook)

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Moose take center stage at the North Country Moose Festival, which celebrates this fantastic animal — plus New Hampshire’s own vibrant culture — with chili competitions, maple syrup tastings, and a moose-calling contest.

New Jersey: Sourland Mountain Festival (Ringoes)

pikselstock/Adobe picking mushroom in the forest

The Sourland Mountain Festival is hosted by the nature conservancy group dedicated to protecting the Sourland Mountains. Along with typical festival events like dancing and shopping, you can also learn about regional mushroom hunting and other sustainable practices.

New Mexico: UFO Festival (Roswell)

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe shop with ufo souvenirs

Roswell, New Mexico, is famous for its supposed alien sightings. The town leans into its weirdness with an annual UFO Festival, complete with a creative alien costume contest and a nighttime light parade.

New York: Olcott Pirate Festival (Olcott)

Сергей Лаврищев/Adobe viking rook attraction

The Olcott Pirate Festival brings the fun of the high seas to the Niagara Falls region of New York. Dressing up in your best pirate garb isn’t required, but you’ll have more fun at the parade, car show, and carnival rides in costume.

North Carolina: Hillbilly Jam (Maggie Valley)

primipil/Adobe musician playing banjo sitting chair

Embrace the hillbilly spirit with a weekend of colorful local entertainment. Highlights include visits from regional “moonshiners,” a festive car show, banjo and bluegrass tunes, and the annual Hatfield and McCoy tug-of-war contest.

North Dakota: Buffalo Days (Jamestown)

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Jamestown’s week-long Buffalo Days celebration includes a fire department pancake breakfast and the annual Buffalo Days parade. For louder, faster entertainment, watch drag races at the Jamestown Airport or enjoy offroading mud drags at the county fairgrounds.

Ohio: Pierogi Fest (North Royalton)

Brent Hofacker/Adobe homemade polish potato pierogies

Celebrate this delicious Ukrainian pastry at the North Royalton Ukrainian Orthodox Church. You’ll find all sorts of pierogi varieties, including blueberry, sweet cheese, sauerkraut, and potato pierogi, as well as traditional foods like borscht and blintzes.

Oklahoma: Green Corn Festival (Bixby)

E.O./Adobe three corn cobs

The Green Corn Festival, hosted by the Bixby Optimist Club, energizes the city every summer with a parade, talent shows, and plenty of vendor booths. Free roasted ears of corn are available at the start of the festival.

Oregon: Airshow of the Cascades (Madras)

Deltaphoto.us/Adobe usaf thunderbirds with smoke trails

The Madras annual airshow lets pilots showcase their unique, antique planes, which are awarded trophies in categories like best antique aircraft, best military plane, and best HUE (homebuilt/unique/experimental) aircraft. You’ll also witness incredible microjet airshows and drill team performances.

Pennsylvania: Horse Trading Days (Zelienople)

rusty elliott/Adobe pony rides at a fair

Horse-loving kids and adults alike will find plenty of activities to enjoy at Zelienople’s Horse Trading Days. Kick off the festivities with the Thursday night horse parade, then stick around for free wagon rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, and Sunday’s dog show.

Rhode Island: Chinese Dragon Boat Race and Taiwan Day Festival (Pawtucket)

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At this free event, you can spend the day watching beautifully crafted, brightly painted Taiwanese dragon boats race in fast-paced rowing competitions. Get in on the competitive spirit yourself by participating in the dumpling-eating competition while you watch the races.

South Carolina: 803 Day (Columbia)

Kevin Ruck/Adobe downtown columbia south carolina skyline

From a citywide scavenger hunt to fun deals from local vendors starting at $8.03, 803 Day is a fun way to celebrate and support Columbia’s local businesses. If you plan to attend, sign up early — registration is free but required.

South Dakota: Corn Palace Festival (Mitchell)

TomR/Adobe the corn palace

South Dakota is home to the only building in the world whose exterior walls are decorated with spectacular murals made of corn and native grasses. Each year, the Corn Palace’s exterior is redecorated, a process celebrated with a days-long festival in August. Activities include live music, amusement park rides, and artistic exhibits.

Tennessee: Frey Fest (Knoxville)

Vlad/Adobe throwing axe for fun

Celebrate summer the Viking way at Knoxville’s annual summer Frey Fest. Norse-themed summertime activities include mead tastings, tarot card readings, axe throwing, and medieval costume contests.

Texas: Palomino Fest and Pro Rodeo (Uvalde)

CURAphotography/Adobe Tickets

Uvalde’s Labor Day rodeo celebration kicks off on August 29 and includes carnival rides, a grand parade, and a host of live local bands. Kids ten years and younger are free, and there is no admission fee between 5 p.m. and midnight on Friday.

Utah: Bear Lake Raspberry Days (Garden City)

vaitekune/Adobe branch of ripe raspberries

Bear Lake in Northern Utah is a favorite summertime getaway for water-loving residents. The end of July signals the area’s raspberry-gathering season, culminating in a lakeside festival with a pie-eating contest, cornhole tournament, and city parade.

Vermont: Garlic Town USA (Bennington)

PNPImages/Adobe music garlic bulbs

Whether you want to bring home fresh-harvested garlic, peruse booths with garlic-tinted cooking oils, or deck yourself in garlic-centric merch, you’ll find it all at Bennington’s day-long garlic celebration.

Virginia: Leesburg Festival of Crafts and Kites (Leesburg)

NordCry/Adobe kites flying on the sky

You’re more than welcome to fly your own kite at Leesburg’s annual celebration of arts, crafts, and kites, but you can also simply sit back and watch as others’ magnificent kites sail through the sky.

Washington: Lavender Weekend (Sequim)

Kotkoa/Adobe lavender bouquets and basket

Sequim and its surrounding areas are home to over a dozen lavender farms. While each farm has its own lavender events during Sequim’s Lavender Weekend, the city of Sequim itself hosts a centralized celebration at the public Carrie Blake Park, where admission and parking are free.

West Virginia: Appalachian String Band Music Festival (Clifftop)

Day Of Victory Stu./Adobe mini concert and music festivals

Enjoy five days of Appalachian music performed by homegrown local musicians as well as out-of-state and international musicians. You’re welcome to camp at the site, but the festival is popular enough that you’ll want to show up early to nab a spot. Just don’t get there too early: Lining up for pre-camping isn’t allowed until nine a.m. the Thursday before the festival starts.

Wisconsin: Bastille Days (Milwaukee)

Susan Vineyard/Adobe pile of crawfish and carrots

Each July 14, Milwaukee hosts one of the largest stateside Bastille Day celebrations. This American spin on the French holiday includes both French and Cajun food, arts, crafts, and music.

Wyoming: Frontier Days (Cheyenne)

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Cheyenne’s Frontier Days celebration is the biggest outdoor rodeo in the world. Enjoy the best of Cheyenne’s past and present by going for a whirl on the carnival rides, then stopping by the Old West Museum and Old Frontier Town to get a taste of the Old West.

Bottom line

Kirk Fisher/Adobe sun sets behind a festival

From the East Coast to the West Coast and the North to the South, each U.S. state has a fantastic summer fair for you to look forward to. Check out one of these fairs on your next stateside vacation — you’re guaranteed a unique experience. And, best of all, many festivals are free, meaning you can keep more money in your wallet.

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Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.