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Inject some weird into your Wisconsin State Fair experience

Everyone who’s been to the Wisconsin State Fair knows the layups — the obvious stuff you do every year. See some animals. Abandon your diet. Listen to many, many … many cover bands.

Rather than rehash the usual, we decided we could be more helpful by pointing you toward the more unique aspects of this year’s event. So read on, potential fair-goer, and find things to do, things to eat and one day in particular that strays far from the beaten path.


Ester Flonaze Drag Queen Bingo & Variety Show
2 p.m. daily @ the Lakefront Brewery Beer Garden

How does the first drag queen to perform at Wisconsin State Fair raise the bar above bingo in year two? Make it a variety hour. In an interview with WISN 12, Ester specifically mentioned adding couples games, and it sounded like the process of imagining all the possibilities wasn’t quite done yet. One thing you can absolutely count on: a good time.

“Every time I do it, I just want to make people more and more comfortable,” Ester told WISN. “It’s just bingo. I’m just having fun. I’m giving away prizes. I just want people to be able to come and get along with everybody. That’s really my goal when I do this: just to bring people together.”

Mark Hayward: Yo-Yo Tricks & Juggling
Various times, Aug. 4-9 @ the Wilderness Resort Family Variety Stage

Sure, the State Fair has champions. Many of them are livestock. But how many are WORLD champions? Mark Hayward is. And his audience interaction is much, much better.

The 1995 Masters Division World Yo-Yo Champion has appeared on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” Now, you can see him bend the laws of physics to his will at “The Afternoon and Occasional Evening Show With Pretty Much Just Mark Hayward.”

The Milking Parlor
Various times daily @ the Ag Village

Where does milk come from? Yes, the grocery store. Before that. OK, you probably know. But have you ever actually seen it happen or have a real live milking professional explain the process to you? Probably not.

The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board wants you to leave the grounds having a better understanding of what is arguably our state’s most important ingestible liquid. There are demonstrations on the hour between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Cows get the odd-numbered times, and goats — yes, GOATS — get the even-numbered times.


Let’s do this from least adventurous to most. First off, you’ve got your Clam Chowder Fries at Goonies Fish & Beer Shack. Sounds off-putting initially, but stop for a second, and the idea gets more palatable. Then you’ve got your Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Chicken On-a-Stick at the Bud Pavilion. Definitely for the more gastrointestinally hearty. Also, Pickle-Flavored Cotton Candy at Pickle Barrel (duh) for those who always thought spun sugar needed to be more brine-y.

OK, now, you’re not ready for this. You think you are. You think, “Hey, the State Fair has weird food every year. You can’t surprise me.” Here we go:

Bug-crusted desserts.

The Bug Apple available at All Things Jerky. (Photo courtesy: Wisconsin State Fair website)

We’re not talking about things that look like bugs so you can pretend. Actual bugs. As in the Bug Apple at All Things Jerky and, when you need to cool down, the Arctic Bug Blast Slush at Exotic Meat Grill. The latter includes a scorpion, which we assume has been de-stingered. Probably worth asking.

Sunday funday

In scouring the Wisconsin State Fair lineup, we stumbled on a nearly full day of offbeat options: Sunday, Aug. 14. Use the food and entertainment we already covered to fill in any gaps, and you have a pretty fantastic Fair finale:

  • 2:30 p.m. — Whole Yachta Love @ the Bud Pavilion. Yacht rock played by musicians that look like the cast of a “Below Deck” spin-off? Yes, please.
  • 3:45 p.m. — The Squeezettes @ Major Goolsby’s Heartland. Power polka pop is both wonderful alliteration and highly entertaining.
  • 6 p.m. — Flex at the Fair @ the Bank Five Nine Amphitheater. It’s more than a bodybuilding and physique competition; it’s a celebration of people who didn’t touch any of the Fair’s food options.