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10 weird facts about the Wisconsin State Fair

  1. Abraham Lincoln spoke at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1859.

Lincoln slept on a cot at the end of an office counter with a screen for a wall because his train arrived in Milwaukee after midnight and the room reserved for him had been given to someone else. Lincoln handled the situation well and said, “I shall sleep like a top.”

In his speech he asked, “How can labor and education be the most satisfactorily combined?” it was thought that the two were incompatible. He also spoke of interconnectedness of farmers, merchants, and other businesses.

  1. The state fair has been going on since 1851.

In the early days it was sponsored by the State Agricultural Society. It and was started to showcase the state's advances in agricultural machinery and products.

  1. The State Fair was cancelled in 1861, 1862, and 1863 because of The Civil War.

It was also cancelled in 1893 when the World's Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago and in 1945 by request of the U.S. Office of War Transportation because of WWII.

  1. The State fair has been held in West Allis since 1892.

The first State Fair was held in Janesville in 1851 and was held in other locations around the state until it found a permanent home where it is held now, in West Allis.

  1. The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest continuously-operated motor racing circuit in the world.

The one mile-long track opened in 1903.

  1. Early State Fairs were primarily about education.

Early fairs were where farmers could learn progressive farming techniques from other farmers and experts.

John Sweet Donald an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics held a campaign to get farmers to keep records. He had a jar of marbles and would ask visitors to guess how many marbles were in each jar, then challenge them by asking if this was the same way they kept track of their finances—by guessing.

  1. Multiple presidents have visited the Wisconsin State Fair.

In addition to Lincoln, who spoke before he was elected president, President Rutherford B. Hayes visited when the fair was held at Camp Randall in Madison in 1878. President Howard Taft visited West Allis for the fair in 1909.

  1. Cream Puffs were introduced to the State fair in 1924.

That year, the Fair teamed up with the Wisconsin Bakers Association to create the fair's glass-windowed Dairy Bakery, designed to promote the use of Wisconsin dairy products. Cream puffs were among 34 products offered and had pulled ahead as a favorite when there was a shortage of whipping cream during World War II.

About 350,000 cream puffs are consumed at the State Fair every year.

  1. The Snowflake logo was launched in 1972 to show that the park is open year round.

A “W” was added to the snowflake design in 2011.


  1. The largest attendance was 1,030,811 in 2014.

Attendance for the first State Fair in 1851 was about 10,000, which, at the time was the largest gathering in state history.