Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Fair.
The Wisconsin State Fair is set to kick off its 163rd year. For the next 11 days, you can get as much fried, on-a-stick food as you can, while visiting animals and vendors from around the state.
Last year, the fair broke an attendance record with more than 1 million people visiting. The new year brings new changes, such as 72 new food choices, a K-9 Sports arena, and an app to help you navigate your way around the fair. Here’s what you need to know before you head to the fair.
Eat Your Heart Out
Fried Food Galore
There are exactly 100 items offered on a stick this year, including the new additions of shepherd’s pie, Cajun shark, and fish and chips. These three items are part of the 72 new items to try throughout the fair.
The second annual “Sporkies” Food Competition brought together 30 unique food items to be judged in a handful of categories. On July 29, panels of five judges chose the winner of the “Golden Spork” award. Of the 30 entries, eight were chosen for the final. The finalists include a chicken-n-waffle cone, deep-fried maple bacon cookie dough, dolce panino (peanut butter and jelly sandwich), Granny Smith caramel apple shake, loaded twister dog, Lulu’s Caribbean crepes, and a peanut butter bacon bison burger. The winner was the dolce panino from La Coppa Gelato for Best Tasting, Most Creative and Grand Champion.
Cream Puffs For Life
This year marks the 90th year that cream puffs have been sold at the Fair. More than 387,000 were sold in 2013. If cream puffs are your favorite part of the Fair, be sure to pick up your #PuffLove tattoo at the Original Cream Puff Pavilion. Snap a picture of your tattoo and post it on Instagram. If you include the hashtag and tag @wistatefair, you could win fair admission and cream puffs for life.
This year, the fair has add an Official 2014 Wisconsin State Fair mobile app. The app has the full schedule of shows, contests and events for all 11 days. Throughout the park, there will also be designated “Cow-Fi” Wi-Fi hotspots. The “Cow-Fi” is free and available in the Exposition Center, Central Park, the Wisconsin Products Pavilion and the Guest Services Pavilion.
A trip to the Wisconsin State Fair can also include a visit to Australia. Aussie Kingdom is a show that entertains and teaches the audience through kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburra birds and other Australian wildlife. Check out a show at 12:30, 2:30, and 5:30 p.m. daily.
Kohl’s Activity Zone
The Kohl’s Activity Zone features activities for the whole family, including theatrical performances, DIY projects, educational games, art and design projects, prizes and more from the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World, the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Penfield Children’s Center. The Activity Zone is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily on South Grandstand Avenue.
K-9 Sports Arena
Check out the K-9 Sports Arena for your chance to see dogs dancing, going through Frisbee and agility courses, dock diving and more. Located in the Big Backyard, shows happen daily on the half-hour mark with additional shows on the weekend.
New name, same game
What was formally known as the Herb Kohl Milk House now has a new name. It got a slight upgrade last year when the Milwaukee Bucks joined as a sponsor and changed the name to Herb’s Superb Milk House. With the new partnership came a new location on the south end near the exposition center. But when Kohl sold the Bucks in early April, the name of the vendor went with it. But don’t worry; you can still get your flavored milk for 25 cents at what’s now called the Milwaukee Bucks Milk House.
Aretha Franklin, Lady Antebellum and a whole lot more
There are more than 30 different stages and areas for live music at this year’s fair. The Main Stage offers a wide variety of shows, from classic rock (Peter Frampton, the Happy Together Tour) to country (Phil Vassar, Alabama) to ‘90s (the Summerland Tour featuring Everclear Soul Asylum Eve 6 and Spacehog) to Christian rock (MercyMe). Two of the biggest shows are Aretha Franklin on Tuesday, Aug. 5, and Lady Antebellum on Saturday, Aug. 9. The Bank Mutual Amphitheater’s headliners include Here Come the Mummies, the Red Hot Chili Pipers, Herman’s Hermits, and Vanilla Ice. Thirty other stages at the fair will also host live music.
Sweet Days and Deals
On opening day (Thursday, July 31), if you donate two non-perishable food items or make a cash donation you can get into the fair for only $2 before 4 p.m. with the Wells Fargo $2 Day benefiting Hunger Task Force. Then on Friday, Aug. 1, people from anywhere but Wisconsin can get in for only $12 with an out-of-state ID as part of Discover Wisconsin Day.
Heading to the fair on Wednesday, August 4? Bring some school supplies or a cash donation until 4 p.m. to receive $4 off an adult admission as part of the UW-Madison Day. Check out the list of approved school supplies to bring that will be donated to Milwaukee Public Schools.
Sunday, Aug. 10, is Miller High Life Veterans and Military Recognition Day. Any veterans or military personnel and up to three family members will receive free admission after presenting their military ID before 4 p.m.
More Sweet Days
Sentry Foods Day on Saturday, Aug. 2, will feature many free products and beef samples. On Sunday, Aug. 3, learn everything about the UWM Panthers on UW-Milwaukee Day. Monday the fourth is all about sweet treats with Jelly Belly Day.
A new day added to the fair this year is Wisconsin 4-H Day, celebrating the Wisconsin 4-H’s 100th year.
Prairie Farms Day on Thursday, Aug. 7, will showcase a sample of World Dairy Expo award winning dairy products, while Patrick Cudahy Day on Friday, Aug. 8, will feature bacon and other deli meat samples. Pick ‘N Save Day on Saturday, Aug. 9, will also feature samples, prizes and activities for everyone.
With all the construction around Milwaukee and the Zoo Interchange, you might be a little worried on how you are going to get to the fair. But fair officials say that the construction in front of the fair has been completed in time. The 84th Street freeway ramp and Kearney Street opened last Saturday night. But, if you are still looking for the perfect way to get to the fair, check out the DOT’s list of routes.