Every county or state fair is a little bit different, with its own specialties and traditions. But what they all share is an ability to invoke the carefree joys of childhood on a hot summer day. Sugary treats like funnel cake and cotton candy mix with salty piles of popcorn. Carnival rides and midway games steal away the time—and kids’ hard-earned allowances. For days on end, communities celebrate what makes their town or region special with cultural showcases, culinary competitions, animal husbandry and maybe even a demolition derby or two.
With the fair’s roots dating back to biblical times, when merchants and pilgrims would gather from across the land to barter goods and enjoy their commonalities, the first American fair, as we think of it today, started in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in September 1811. From then on, similar festivals spread across the country, with tens of millions of people, young and old, attending them each year.
Take a look and relive your childhood with these photos of Americana at its best.
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