July…soon it will be a distant memory. It seems as though summer is going by way too quickly, but the arrival of August means one thing: the Wisconsin State Fair! Gates open August 3rd and the fun continues through August 13th. So, break out the elastic pants and gear up for cheese curds, cream puffs, music, rides and animals! In other words, get ready to have some great family FUN!
Game-Changer Tip: If you can only spend one day at the fair and have flexibility in your schedule, consider Monday, August 7th. It’s Kohl’s Family Value Day, so adult admission is only $5 and kids under the age of 11 are FREE!
Fortunately, the Wisconsin State Fair is a short road trip from Green Bay.
You can travel via I-43 or I-41. Both have areas of construction, so it’s personal preference. Check out construction zones here.
General Parking is available for $10 per vehicle ($5/motorcycle). Enter Gate 1 at S. 79th Street and W. Greenfield Avenue, Gate 7 on Kearney Street (I-94 Frontage Road) or Gate 9 at S. 76th Street and W. Pierce Street. All parking is first-come, first-served basis.
THE FARE OF THE FAIR
Now that we covered the logistics, let’s get down to business.
I love food, so naturally this is where I want to begin. In my humble opinion, these are items you should not exit the gates without trying.
Original Cream Puffs The Wisconsin State Fair and the Original Cream Puffs are nearly synonymous. This classic has been a staple at the fair since 1924. In 2016 over 300,000 cream puffs were purchased! These delicious pieces of heaven even warrant a drive-thru! Yep, you read that right! Place your order by 9 pm the previous night (order online or call the Cream Puff hotline at 414-266-7111) and swing by the drive-thru between 6 – 8 a.m the following morning. The Drive-Thru is located inside Gate 6, near the U.S. Cellular Main Gate. However, I still love purchasing them from the Original Cream Puff Pavilion. Watching the pastry chefs work their magic making these tasty treats is so much fun. The kiddos love it, too!
Cheese Curds Don’t even talk to me if curds aren’t near the top of your list. You can go the more traditional route with Leine’s Beer Battered Cheese Curds at Saz’s or you can venture out more with Poutine Cheese Curds at Duke’s Poutine. Perhaps, beer-battered, pretzel coated cheese curds are on your bucket list as well. You can find these at Tropics.
Corndogs and Other Foods On-a-Stick The corndog. Another quintessential example of an iconic fair treat. A favorite among kids and boy, does it bring back childhood memories for adults.
However, if you are a fan of food On-a-Stick in general, the Wisconsin State Fair is the place to be. The list of On-a-Stick food options is simply amazing. These are just a few that you will have a chance to try:
- Beer-battered bratwurst On-a-Stick
- Deep-fried bacon and cream cheese On-a-Stick
- Deep-fried macaroni and cheese On-a-Stick
- Deep-fried olives On-a-Stick
- Deep-fried snickers bar On-a-Stick
- Donut holes On-a-Stick
- Pork chop On-a-Stick
- S’mores On-a-Stick
Roasted Corn Another fair & summer classic. Extra butter, please!
Milwaukee Bucks Milk House You’ll need something to wash down all the delectable treats. Be sure to stop by the Milwaukee Bucks Milk House and sample the various flavors of milk! What flavor do you think they will introduce this year? This is always a fun stop for the younger kids.
NEW INTRODUCTIONS! It’s always fun to see what crazy, yet delicious concoction you will find at the State Fair. Click here for the full list of new foods. Below are just a few that caught my eye.
- Apple pie nachos
- Buffalo chicken grilled cheese sandwich
- Cricket chips
- Deep-fried nutella
Gluten-Friendly Eating out can be challenging for families with gluten allergies. Fortunately, the Wisconsin State Fair recognizes that and there are many gluten-friendly options!
The WonderWheel — NEW THIS YEAR!!
This is not your average Ferris wheel. The WonderWheel makes its debut at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2017 and this is an attraction you will not want to miss! Located on the west side of State Fair Park, the WonderWheel features 36 fully enclosed, brightly colored gondolas. Each gondola has a capacity of six people, and one gondola offers accessible seating. Rides cost $5 per person.
The ride stands 15 stories high and featuring 528,000 vibrant LED lights, offers a breathtaking view of the city, with visibility of 10 miles or more from the top of the wheel. Wisconsin State Fair is one of only three fairs at which the ride will be featured in 2017.
The Giant Slide
FUN! FUN! FUN! 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of this ride. For only $2.50/ride, you get 200 feet of family fun!
Amazing views! One-way tickets are $4.50, and round-trip is $7. Tickets are available at each end of the SkyGlider near the Exposition Center and on North Grandstand Avenue.
BEST BETS FOR KIDS
Kohl’s Activity Zone
The Kohl’s Activity Zone is full of fun and interactive activities perfect for families. This area will open an hour earlier this year! Open 9 am to 5 pm daily. You can find it on South Grandstand Avenue.
What can you expect at the Kohl’s Activity Zone?
- Kohl’s Color Wheels, an art-making experience presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum
- Kohl’s Design It! Mobile Lab, create unique hands-on projects highlighting design with Discovery World
- Kohl’s Wild Theater, conservation-themed theatrical performances from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee
- Kohl’s Building Blocks Program, a Penfield Children’s Center program that promotes the health and positive development of children and celebrates their unique abilities
- Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy Program, an educational display teaching children and families how to keep safe and healthy with help from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Sea Lion Splash
You have to experience the only traveling sea lion show in the country! This attraction will teach valuable lessons about marine wildlife and conservation while entertaining crowds of all ages. The sea lions are simply amazing. Watch them as they balance balls, shoot hoops, and perform handstands! 30-minute shows running throughout the day. Find it at South Grandstand Avenue.
We Energies Park
With interactive games and activities, kids will learn about electric and gas safety. Cooking demonstrations and up close and personal interactions with birds of prey are just a couple of things featured. BONUS: Stop here to get an identification wristband to keep your child safe at the fair! Energy Park is on the west side of the fair on Wetley Way at Center Street.
Take your family on an adventure through Exploratory Park! Here you will find hands-on stations for kids of all ages! UW-Extension will bring daily activities to spark creativity, including wildlife education and button making. The DNR will be on hand to share information on state parks, forests and natural areas.
A visit to Exploratory Park is the perfect opportunity for mom and dad to have a seat and relax while the kids play on the NEW Playground area (located in the center of the park).
Barns & Animals
No trip to a fair is complete without visiting the animals. Visit the cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats and more! The Discovery Barnyard is a must! The whole family will enjoy the exhibits and demonstrations daily from 9 am – 9 pm. Plus, BABY ANIMALS.
Cool Tip: To stay as cool as possible, visit the barns early in the day. As the temperature climbs throughout the day, the barns also heat up quickly.
Racing pigs. Need I say more? This is an event that is so fun for young and old, alike. The crowd participation makes it that much more enjoyable! With races running throughout the day, it’s easy to find a race that fits your family’s schedule. Pick a pig and get cheering! Found at the Racing Animals Arena.
WAIT! THERE’S MORE…
- The Rides! Spin City boasts more than 50 amazing rides and attractions as well as a Kiddie Area for the younger fairgoers. Money Saver Tip: If you have ride-a-holics in your group, it’s worth buying the unlimited daily rides wristband.
- Daily Parade, a fair tradition that kicks off at 3 pm daily with street entertainers, marching bands, tractors, and more. Visit any Fair Information Center for the parade route.
- K-9 Sports Arena, located in the Big Backyard, features shows and demonstrations hourly on the half-hour on weekdays with additional shows on weekends. See dog dock diving, frisbee, agility courses, Police K-9 units and much more!
A few more tips as you plan you trip to the Wisconsin State Fair!
Free ID Bracelets
As we mentioned above, be sure to stop by the We Energies Park to grab a safety bracelet. Last year over one million people entered the gates at the Wisconsin State Fair. These bracelets are a great way to help ensure kids’ safety.
Nursing Stations and Baby Care Areas
Families can visit one of three private, comfortable areas designated as Family/Baby Care Centers; one in the Exposition Center, one in the Guest Services Pavilion and one of North Grandstand Avenue next to Bell Ambulance. Each center offers an area for nursing mothers as well as a diaper changing station.
Stroller and Wagon Rental
Don’t have room for the stroller or wagon in your car? No problem! Rent a single stroller or wagon at the Guest Services Pavilion or Transit Center.
Missed the pre-sale discounted tickets? No worries! Check out these Admission Deals for more info on how to save on regular admission prices. Discounts vary by day. See website for more details.
- August 3: Wells Fargo $2 Day
- August 7: Kohl’s Family Value Day
- August 13: Veteran and Military Recognition Day
Forgot your sunscreen? Don’t sweat it! Look for one of three FREE sunflower sunscreen stations located throughout the Fair Park (1. in SpinCity 2. near the Guest Services Pavilion and 3. in front of We Energies Energy Park). Sunflowers will be stocked with SPF 30, suitable for attendees one and older.
Need a break from the heat? This 200,000 square foot facility is air-conditioned. A stop here will also allow you to browse one-of-a-kind merchandise, products and home-improvement solutions.