County fairs, Wisconsin's hidden gems

Kristen Falstad

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on

County Fairs in Wisconsin are a highlight of the summer – a motivation to get through the grueling winters – and there’s something iconic about each fair that keeps visitors coming back year after year. Maybe it’s a concert, a special event, a salty snack or a delicious dessert. Here are just a few of the best hidden gems at Wisconsin’s County Fairs.

Grant County Fair

Sheboygan County Fair – For some entertainment at this eastern Wisconsin fair, check out the High Flying Pages Aerial Show, or if you’re brave and ready for some hands-on “air time” try out the zip line. Pretty sure it’s illegal to visit Sheboygan and not have a brat (okay, maybe simply frowned-upon) and since typical fair food is every variety of “on a stick” you could imagine, there are of course Brats On A Stick that you’ve got to try.

Oneida County Fair

Oneida County Fair – A staple in Wisconsin is Friday night fish fry, so why not feature one at a county fair? Also worth checking out at the Oneida County Fair is the Saturday night House of Blues & Brisket, a Native American Dance Exhibition under the Hext Theatre Big Top Tent, Saturday morning farmers’ market, a senior pavilion with cribbage and bingo, and a logging museum.

Sawyer County Fair – Visitors come for a delicious pancake breakfast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and stay for the Dairy Queen Dilly Bar eating contest, veggie racing and a llama show.

Sawyer County Fair

Grant County Fair – We’ve all played with a foosball table before, right? The soccer game where you move your players to score on the other team? The Grant County Fair takes this concept to a whole new level with human foosball at the Grandstand. Enter as a 6-person team for a chance to win $100, or just go to watch this hilarious, yet innovative event.

Dane County Fair –  Head to the La Movida Main Stage for unique contests, including a jalapeno eating contest (my mouth is on fire thinking about it), a taco eating contest, and an El Grito contest (which I think, if my memory from high school Spanish serves me correctly, is shouting).

Dane County Fair

Washington County Fair – Breakfast at the fair is sure to have an ‘egg’cellent turnout, especially when admission is free prior to 8 am. Washington County Fair’s impressive concerts don’t hurt either – this year’s must sees: Hunter Hayes with Julia Cole and Lee Brice with Lewis Brice.

Washburn County Fair – Participate in Washburn County Fair’s unique wheelbarrow contest: Get out your gardening tools and look for that old wheelbarrow. Fill it with your favorite combination of live plants and accessories. Each wheel barrow is judged on arrangement of plants and color combinations.

Washington County Fair

Door County Fair – Is there anything better than Door County cherries? I hear the cherry pie is a must at the Door County Fair, but that’s no surprise. For entertainment, check out the Pleasure Valley Pig & Duck Races or the on-site wood carving,

Pierce County Fair – The Pierce County Fair is held in Ellsworth – the Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin – so getting some deep-fried cheese curds here is a safe bet. Having grown up in Pierce County, I can attest to this. J

Sheboygan County Fair

Kenosha County Fair – The Kenosha County Fair is all about the contests (okay, maybe it’s a little about the fair food too). Participate in or come to watch the hay bale throwing contest, the barn quilt contest, the beer brewing contest or the All American Lumberjack Show.

Walworth County Fair – If you love bacon (who doesn’t?) this fair is for you. The “You Bacon Me Crazy Recipe Challenge” accepts entries in three categories: Smokin’ Starters (appetizers), Bring Home the Bacon (main/side dishes), and Hog Heaven Delights (desserts).

Walworth County Fair

Wisconsin makes the best of each season with festivals and fairs, but summertime county fairs are hard to beat. What keeps you coming back to your local county fair each year? Share with us on social media using #DiscoverWisconsin.

Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Having grown up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. Watch Discover Wisconsin TV Saturday mornings at 10 on Fox Sports Wisconsin. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)