A corn dog and a ride on the 100-foot-tall Giant Wheel. Cheering on the racing pigs. Dancing to live music at the free entertainment stage. Snapping a photo in front of a 1,000-pound pumpkin. The fun, the livestock, the food, the competitions — the State Fair of Virginia, which runs from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2, 2022 at The Meadow Event Park, means many different things to different people. For regional families, it’s a beloved annual tradition to look forward to as the seasons change from summer into fall.
“The fair is a great place to enjoy an authentic experience,” says Marlene Pierson-Jolliffe, the State Fair of Virginia’s executive director and vice president of operations at the Meadow Event Park. “Many families, especially those in urban areas, are so removed from agriculture and how their food is grown. The fair is not manufactured; it’s not something you see on television or on your phone. It’s a wholesome, immersive experience that takes in all five senses.”
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For more than 100 years, visitors have flocked to the State Fair of Virginia to take part in established traditions like livestock competitions and quilt shows and to create some new traditions of their very own.
“For instance, some families might decide to meet under a certain tree every year or to watch the sunset from a specific spot at the event,” Pierson-Jolliffe points out.
There’s something at the State Fair of Virginia that is appealing for all ages. For the youngest visitors, the dedicated Kidway area offers spinning teacups, flying elephants and other small-scale rides with lots of fun and flashing lights all in one compact area. Teens tend to gravitate toward Midway Madness, where they can hop on the big thrill rides and challenge their friends to carnival games. Meanwhile, parents and other adults can feel free to grab a craft beer or a glass of wine to sip while shopping wares from a diverse group of fair vendors.
“Seniors seem to enjoy the traditional agriculture exhibits and competitive arts, but mostly, they just love sharing the whole fair experience with their kids and grandkids,” Pierson-Jolliffe adds.
Many visitors wait all year to feast on funnel cake, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, sirloin tips and deep-fried cookies. But with tasty new additions this year like Brazilian-style grilled steak or chicken served in a pineapple bowl, waffle tacos, mini donuts, and a macaroni and cheese bar with a selection of topping choices, visitors just might come away with a new favorite fair food.
The State Fair of Virginia also accommodates families in thoughtful ways by providing comfort stations for nursing mothers, rest areas conveniently stationed throughout the grounds and free admission for children ages 4 and under.
The fair staff is always looking for ways to introduce new entertainment to wow families. “In our continued effort to provide entertainment value to our guests, we have invested in a first-class aerial artist-focused circus,” says Pierson-Jolliffe. “It is a high-end production and the fair will feature three shows daily with a seating capacity of 700 per show.”
Fair goers will also experience an expanded livestock facility, strolling performers, additional main stage performances and a petting zoo in the popular Young MacDonald’s exhibit. All easy ways to make some family-fun memories at the State Fair of Virginia.
The 2022 State Fair of Virginia runs Sept. 23 to Oct. 2, 2022 at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell. For tickets and event information, visit statefairva.org.