Fair Game: Best Places for Carnival Fun

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Most grownups have fond memories of tearing into funnel cakes, riding the salt and pepper shakers until wanting to throw up, and attempting to grow a carriage-sized blue-ribbon pumpkin in the backyard. It’s time to pass the torch (er, deep fried Twizzlers) to the next generation. So pile the kids in the car and head out for a fair adventure at these D.C.-area carnivals.

Olivia at the Fair 2013 (1)

The Great Frederick Fair

Why it rocks: Head up I-270 for this fair fete, and check out a cake auction, kids’ harness racing and — fan favorite — the “Old Timers Day,” at which little ones learn about life before cars ruled the world. Families with animal lovers can even bid on a goat if you’re, by chance, in the market for an eco-friendly lawnmower/house pet/milk supplier.

When: Sept. 13-21
Where: 797 East Patrick Street (Frederick, Md)
Online: thegreatfrederickfair.com

Piglet Racing

Anne Arundel County Fair

Why it rocks: Square dancers, horse rides and car races promise a fair to remember in Anne Arundel County. There’s also a tractor parade so your little John Deere or International Harvester can watch in awe as their favorite equipment moseys on by.

When: Sept. 11-15
Where: 1450 General’s Highway (Crownsville, Md)
Online: aacountyfair.org

Ferris Wheel

D.C. State Fair

Why it rocks: D.C. might not be a state (officially), but who cares. Held at Barracks Row, this state fair gives kids the opportunity to enter their art and poetry for best in show. Meanwhile, dad can put his latest mistake (er, creation) to the test in the Homebrew Contest. Too traditional? They also have competitions for best-tasting Honey, Funkiest-Looking Vegetable, and coolest Hats for Newborns.

When: Sept. 28
Where: 731 8th Street SE
Online: dcstatefair.org

Ferris Wheel + Funnel Cakes

Stafford County Fair

Why it rocks: If the kiddos are dying to rip open the bags of Halloween candy you recently bought and stashed, then head south to this fair where the main attractions are the dessert stands. Indulge their sweet tooth with funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos and massive glasses of lemonade, to name a few.

When: Oct. 25-27
Where: 2135 Mountainview Road (Stafford, Va)
Online: staffordfair.com

County Fair HKR 2013

Virginia State Fair

Why it rocks: Follow the Puppetone Rockers’ roaming grand piano for action-packed musical goodness at the Virginia State Fair. Dad can even meet the stars of Lizard Lick Towing before the family heads over to see Dan “The Rhinestone Roper” Mink who holds world championship titles in gun spinning, knife throwing and whip cracking.

When: Sept. 27-Oct. 6
Where: 13111 Dawn Boulevard (Doswell, Va)
Online: statefairva.org

What is your family’s favorite county or state fair?

—Hilary Riedemann

Photos courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neill via Flickr, AJ Batac via Flickr, and Hilary Riedemann