State Fair unleashes annual 11-day run of fun
The question isn’t as much as what’s new, rather: What’s new to you?

By DAN MUCKELBAUER - Freeman Staff

August 4, 2016


Submitted photo
Whether it’s deep-fried and hand-fed or a knife and fork are needed for something gluten-free, the State Fair has new food and familiar favorites - more than you can shake a deep-fried stick at.

WEST ALLIS - What’s new at the State Fair?

The deep-fried ol’ fashioned based at Water Street Brewery’s stand, for one.

“It’s a Wisconsin tradition somehow related to a delicious dessert,” said Kristi Chuckel, the fair communications director.

Maybe the better question is what’s new to you?

“We encourage people to come down and try something new,” she said.

That might be the sea lions, which made a big splash last year.

Or maybe it’s seeing “Here Come the Mummies,” nationally touring musicians dressed like mummies playing on the Bank Mutual Stage, one of the fair’s 30 stages.

But it's food that draws a lot of attention, from the ever-popular cream puffs with 400,000 sold each fair and roasted corn at the New Berlin Lions Club booth, which sells 100,000, to testing deep-fried fruit on a stick at, where else, the Fried Fruit on a Stick stand or a new Elvis chicken and waffle sandwich at the Lakefront Brew Pub & Eatery. The sandwich is a Sporkies entry.

What are the Sporkies?

It’s a competition among vendors with the name based on “spoon” and “fork.”

“This is the fourth year for the Sporkies. There are other fairs that have food competitions but we wanted to do something unique for Wisconsin. Our vendors are always creative with coming up with something fun. So we want to reward them not only for creativity but also for presentation,” Chuckel said.

A panel of judges will taste the entries. The panel includes Donny Most and Anson Williams, who starred on “Happy Days.”

They will be part of Happy Days Live, which will be on the Main Stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Henry Winkler will also be featured.

“They talk about their favorite memories and show clips and they take questions,” Chuckel said. “It’s a variety show with some singing and a lot of interaction with each other and interaction with the crowd.”

And it’s the variety of the fair that keeps people coming back. The average fairgoer is expected to visit three times and stay six hours during the 11-day run from Aug. 4 to Aug. 14.

“We’re not just music, we’re not just agriculture, we’re not just rides, we’re not just food,” Chuckel said of the fair’s four-legged approach to success, which again topped 1 million visitors in 2015.

There’s so much of it that Chuckel urges people to check out the website, where visitors can also find the food finder that tells you what’s new, like the bacon popcorn balls at Laura’s Gourmet Popcorn.

One thing that is new that really isn’t in the fair’s hands is that it should be easier to get to the fair.

The Zoo Interchange project on Interstate 94 has moved along and the 84th Street exits and on-ramps will be open.

But, Chuckel said mass transit is always encouraged.

There is free bicycle parking, motorcycle parking has been reduced from $10 to $5, and the shuttles from Washington and Waukesha counties are back.

Promotions also encourage people to try the fair on different days.

On Tuesday, seniors 60 and older pay $5 all day, $2 off the regular senior admission price.

Regular admission is $12, $7 for military and seniors 60 and older, $6 for youths 6 through 11, and free for 5 and younger.

Looking for a fair deal?

Admission specials abound

WEST ALLIS - Admission deals can be found on select days.

They include:

n Today - Opening day of the fair, is Wells Fargo $2 Day benefiting Hunger Task Force. Fairgoers get $2 admission when they donate at least two non-perishable food items or make a cash donation outside any fair admission entrance. The promotion ends promptly at 4 p.m.

n Friday - Celebrate Wisconsin Day presented by Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All fairgoers visiting Wisconsin from out of state can buy two adult admissions (12 and older) for $12 when presenting an out-of-state ID at any fair ticket window.

Monday - Kohl’s Family Value Day. All fairgoers will be eligible for discounted fair admission from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. thanks to a partnership with Kohl’s. Adults will receive $5 admission (a 60 percent savings) and youth  11 and younger will receive free admission.

n Tuesday- Humana Senior Recognition Day. Seniors (60 and older) can receive $5 admission all day - a $2 savings off of the regular senior admission price.

n Wednesday - Fairgoers can save $4 on one adult gate admission ticket until 6 p.m.during Meijer Day via Custom Coupon when you spend $40 or more at select new Meijer stores between July 26 and Aug. 10. Limit one coupon per offer. Promotion will end promptly at 6 p.m.

n Aug. 14 - For Miller High Life Veterans and Military Recognition Day, veterans, military personnel and their family members will receive free admission until 4 p.m. Fairgoers who present a Military ID (DD214, VA ID, Military Common Access Card, or Dependent ID) at any admission entrance will receive free admission for themselves and up to three family members courtesy of Miller High Life. There will be a limit of four free admissions per ID. The promotion will end promptly at 4 p.m.


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Rascal Flatts takes to the Wisconsin State Fair Main Stage on Saturday. Kelsea Ballerini opens at 8 p.m. Counry is just one of the music varieties at the fair, which has 30 stages throughout the grounds in West Allis.

Main Stage features usual variety

WEST ALLIS - This year’s State Fair’s Main Stage relies on a familiar formula of booking rising stars with longtime favorites.

It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit variety show.

Tickets are at the ticket booth at 77th Street and Greenfield. Call 414-266-7100 or visit

This year’s lineup:

- Shawn Mendes, 7:30 p.m. today, $29 and up.

- Halestorm with We Are Harlot, 8 p.m. Friday, $29 and up.

- Rascal Flatts with Kelsea Ballerini, 8 p.m. Saturday, $39 and up.

- Happy Together Tour with The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie; Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night; Gary Puckett & The Union Gap; Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere & The Raiders; The Cowsills; and The Spencer Davis Group featuring Spencer Davis, 7 p.m. Sunday, $25 and up.

- Newsboys with Francesca Battistelli, 7:30 p.m. Monday, $29 and up.

- Berlin and A Flock of Seagulls, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, $22.

- Happy Days Live featuring Anson Williams, Donny Most and special guest Henry Winkler, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, $25 and up.

- Melissa Etheridge with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11,  $29 and up.

- I Love The ‘90s Show featuring Salt-N-Pepa, Color Me Badd and Coolio, 7 p.m. Aug. 12, $29 and up.

- Phillip Phillips and Matt Nathanson, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13, Wisconsin State Fair ticket office, $29 and up.

- The Beach Boys (led by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston), 6 p.m. Aug. 14, $29 and up.