Tulsa State Fair not for everyone, but go anyway

The Tulsa State Fair is a tradition well over a century old, though I doubt anyone was selling car insurance or hot tubs there until more recently. The fair runs for eleven days, and attracts over a million visitors each year.
It was while staring at a butter sculpture depicting some uncanny-looking individuals that I started to wonder if irony played any sort of part in the organization in the Tulsa State Fair. The butter sculpture is one of many so-midwestern-it-hurts attractions; livestock competitions, pick-up truck sales and vendors upon vendors of deep-fried guilt food make up a portion of the remainder. It occurred to me that, at some point, state fairs might have become a caricature of themselves, flanderizing until they were so distinctly midwestern that it became almost morbidly appealing for people like myself.
None of this is meant to insult the people for whom the fair’s attractions are especially appealing. I do imagine, however, that a sizable portion of the fair’s visitors are like me: viewing the fair as an annual occasion to immerse yourself in an atmosphere you wouldn’t ever usually prefer.
Really, if you’re a college student or anyone else just headed to the fair for some fun, you’re more likely to find it in the rides and games than anything else. The good news is the fair has plenty of both; the bad is that the two can get expensive pretty quickly. Ride tickets were $1.25 a piece — with some discounts for buying larger quantities — and I personally never found any rides that cost under three tickets. In fact, I managed to blow my tickets pretty quickly on a couple rides, one a kind of “egg-roll” where passengers were revolved over the park, their cars spinning head over heels, that took 8 tickets each. They don’t even take tickets for the “extreme rides,” where I saw prices like $30 per passenger. The games and booths, meanwhile, offered some serious prizes with some serious luck required to get them. Keep in mind that entry to the park, and just parking nearby, weren’t free either. Add to that a wine slushie and some other food items I purchased, and you might understand why I was regretful I hadn’t determined a budget before attending the fair.
My friends and I managed to enjoy ourselves there for a few hours. If we’d planned a little better, we might’ve been there the night of a concert or show we were actually interested in. Instead, I tried to deafen myself to the echoing voice of a young pop star who spent a lot of time feeding her underage audience “inspiring” quotes.
The fair is a great event, for perhaps a different audience than college students on a budget. I doubt many people at TU spend more than a night or two there, and even then I hardly see them perusing the more practical, boring stalls of the fair. I actually would suggest visiting the fair, especially if you’ve never been before. The fair can be a fun curiosity — a place to try strange foods and ride some rides you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Just maybe don’t expect to get as much out of it as your local Tulsan.

Post Author: Trenton Gibbons