By Courtney Rhodes
SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah State Fair has been a tradition since settlers held the first one in the 1850s. The fair offers Utahns the chance to showcase and sample the best the state has to offer, from concerts to produce and livestock competitions, rodeos, and animal exhibits from Utah farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs.
Looking back at the 2010 edition of the Utah state fair, which promoters described as “uncommonly good,” one can almost hear, smell and taste the annual event.
During its 10-day run, the state Fairgrounds came alive with the sounds of teenage screams from the midway, children’s excited laughter, and the noises of animal calls from the barns and pens. These sounds mixed with smells of roasted kettle corn and barbeque, the staples that bring most Utahns to the fair.
Special events and exhibits also are particular attractions for some of age groups that might feel left out. The PRCA rodeo and the demolition derby are tailored to older crowds during the evening, while exhibits like little hands on the farm are popular with young children and their parents.
Not only does the fair offer a variety of entertainment, but it also helps to create wonderful memories. “My favorite part of the fair is seeing all the animals, but this year my favorite part was catching a catfish in the pond. It was my first time fishing,” said 6-year-old Emily Smith.
Not only was Emily excited about her catch, but her father, James, was as well and could not stop smiling during the whole experience.
Another fair participant, Ashley Middleton, said, “I love the state fair and have been coming since I was a little girl. This year I came with my friends and rode the fair rides, but the best part of my day was getting to hold a baby pig. It’s something I will probably never forget.”
But traditional farm attractions are not the only things that bring people to the fair.
“The best part of the state fair is the food,” said Susan Hickson from Tremonton. “There is no other place where you can find kettle corn, hotdogs, caramel apples, chocolates, and barbeque in one place. It’s the worst food a person could eat all in one place and it’s the best place to be.”
For those who might wish to be daring and try something different, this year’s fair also offered more exotic Southern fare, like frog legs, alligator, and crawfish.
Among the traditional fair exhibits are some non-Western highlights. Shows featuring sea lions, monkeys, lemurs, alligators and exotic cats were scattered throughout the fairgrounds. At these shows the audiences packed into the bleachers and crowded around the show ring to catch a glimpse of these foreign animals in action.
“It was extraordinary to see a sea lion that close up and especially at the state fair of all places,” said Salt Lake City native Gale Larsen. “Being in a land-locked state, people have to travel hundreds of miles to the coast to see exotic animals like these, but this year I got to see one and only had to pay 9 bucks.”
Whether it’s the foot-long chilidogs, 50-pound watermelon, or the opportunity to get up close and personal with animals of all kinds, the Utah State Fair has something to offer everyone.