A tradition lasting over one hundred years, the Tulsa State Fair is an eleven day family-friendly event for all to attend.
It’s time for the annual Tulsa State Fair! The Tulsa State Fair kicks off the fourth Thursday after Labor Day and maintains its stay for eleven days. With such an extended timeframe, a large number of attendees are able to make it. In the past, the fair has hosted over one million attendees at the grounds.
Hosted Sept. 30 to Oct. 10 at the Expo Center on 21st St. between Harvard and Yale, this is “the city’s largest family event, providing educational experiences and entertainment,” as advertised on their website. The fair hosts a variety of rides, entertainment, agricultural and educational exhibits as well as competitions.
The history of the Tulsa State Fair is a long and detailed one, spanning further than the 1900s. Beginning in the 1890s as a simple street fair, the event was rebranded in 1903 as the Tulsa County Free Fair, hosted in the Western Association ballpark.
In 1913, official land was purchased through the Oklahoma Free Fair act to host on, though in 1923, this location changed thanks to a generous donation. That was the first year the Tulsa County Free Fair took place on the ground we know of today as the fairgrounds.
It was not until 1966 that the fairgrounds began to resemble today’s. This was when the River Spirit Exposition Center was constructed, the large building on the fairgrounds where a majority of the indoor events take place. This was also the year that the Driller Man was installed, a monument for Tulsa towering at 76 feet tall, according to the Expo Square website.
The 1970s brought improvement and rebranding for the state fair. Construction was completed for more seats in the stadiums, air conditioners were installed and the fairgrounds were officially renamed the Expo Square. Even when the fair is not in town, the fairgrounds are used year round for anything from horse shows to trade shows.
There have only been two instances where the state fair was forced to close, both during times of international turmoil. From 1917 to 1918, the fair was shut down as well as in 1942 to 1945. In 2020, amidst the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed like that trend would be repeated as many events throughout Tulsa were postponed or cancelled, but the state fair was still hosted. Instead, events, vendors and entertainment were extremely limited to minimize interaction.
This year, the Tulsa State Fair is back to full capacity, and many citizens have reported the excitement they have for this massive event to return to its glory. Vendors have also told 8 Tulsa that they are eager for the business the state fair will bring, especially after the last year of low sales for local businesses.
Masks are not required at the fairgrounds, but they are strongly recommended. Expo Square told Tulsa World that they have taken a few precautions, such as widening aisles and installing plexiglass, to mitigate COVID-19 spread. They are also hosting a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic in partnership with the Tulsa Health Department.
One thing that has changed this year from the past is that there is no longer a free shuttle service to and from the fair. Instead, paid parking is available at the fairgrounds, or free parking around the area, if you are willing to walk.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for youth, military and seniors. Children under the age of five can get in for free. Be sure to attend before it’s gone!