What has a photography contest, funnel cakes advertised with the phrase "YOLO," duck races and a NASA exhibit? The answer might surprise you -- the Utah State Fair!
Even with its opening week coinciding with Salt Lake City's first annual ComicCon, the last concert of the Twilight Series, the Greek Festival and a Utes vs. Wildcats game, the state fair's attendance refused to lag.
That first weekend, even Mother Nature couldn't keep Utahns from attending the 158th Utah State Fair, held in Salt Lake City. Since 1856, the Deseret Fair -- as it was first called -- has been attracting citizens of Utah and even other states to the Fairpark, and 2013 was no exception. Late Saturday, Sept. 7, and early Sunday, Sept. 8, the crashes of thunder mixed with the shouts of the crowd and the smell of popcorn mingled with the smell of the Great Salt Lake, but even then, there were lines at the ticket offices.
Walking through the fairgrounds, you can see the wide variety of entertainment offered, from a woman on stilts dressed as a farm-girl riding on the back of a golf cart to a clown making Spider-Man out of balloons. There were booths for common commodities like clothing, purses and photos, but you could also pass by vendors for caricatures, LED lighting displays and tin mugs filled with your favorite drinks.
And of course, a fair wouldn't be a fair without a good amount of rides and food. Giant neon signs with lights and music filled the grounds, telling you to eat Dippin' Dots, donuts and deep-dish pizza, or persuading you to walk over due to their mouth-watering smells and shouts of "Free samples!"
With the rides, the most popular seemed to be a Ferris wheel, the Tilt-a-Whirl and a giant slide -- a favorite with the kids, who said it was so scary it was fun.
Concerts were a big part of the Utah State Fair too. Opening night, Plain White T's played, followed by Amy Grant and Love and Theft to round out the week. Bridgit Mendler, star of Disney Channel's "Good Luck Charlie," also drew crowds. The same grandstand for the concerts was also used for an episode of "The Price is Right" and a free show of "American Pickers" during the two weeks the fair was held.
Other fair attractions included the rodeo, barrel-racing and a demolition derby. Miss Utah State Fair, winner of the first annual Utah's Own PRCA Rodeo Queen contest, was present to sign autographs. Both indoor and outdoor cookoffs filled the air with to-die-for smells of meat, baked goodies, chili and salsa to please the stomachs of children and adults alike.
All in all, what better way can you ask for to end the summer? Other than, of course, all-you-can-eat ice cream, a cow sculpture made of butter and cinnamon-covered almonds. All courtesy of the Utah State Fair.
In the end, we can only quote the giant billboard painted onto the side of a building in the middle of the fairgrounds -- "No goats, no glory." And considering the number of farm animals present during the past 11 days, we can assure you, there was quite a bit of glory.
Minna Wang is a recent graduate of NUAMES and is now attending the University of Utah. She likes to read, write and listen to music. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.