Can you smell it in the air? The hint of fry-bread wafting downwind? The sweet aroma of fresh roasted cinnamon nuts hanging lazily in the almost-autumn afternoon? Hot horse manure lurking as omnipresent as the scent of fresh-baked dog food on the outskirts of Edmond?
Your olfactory senses have not lead you astray: Indeed, the most magnificent time of the year has once again arrived. Yes, dear reader, welcome to the GREAT STATE FAIR OF OKLAHOMA!
It’s been four years since The Lost Ogle discontinued the (in)famous Oklahoma State Fair Photo Contest, but we still have a deep-set love for this yearly event. Although the Fair has made huge strides over the last decade or so to make it more family friendly and less sketchy, there’s still plenty of weird shit going on. Take a few puffs on your preferred medicinal strain and follow this guide to get the strangest possible experience out of your GSFoO trip, which runs from September 13th through the 23rd:
Easily one of the weirdest parts of the State Fair, year in and year out, is the 4-H and FFA exhibits at the Oklahoma Expo Hall. Do you wanna see some big ol’ misshapen gourds, bug collections, or dioramas made by grade schoolers about gun safety? Well, get your ass to the 4-H exhibit. It has been my one don’t-miss State Fair tradition for years, because it’s like a Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not mini-museum curated by rural Oklahoma.
Live Animal Surgery
One minute, it’s all cotton candy and rickety rides. The next minute, after wandering into the Oklahoma Expo Hall between 1-4pm each weekend, you’re watching a dog get its balls cut off. No, seriously. Professional veterinarians will be onsite spaying and neutering dogs and answering your questions, if you’re into that kind of thing…
Okie Karaoke[extreme Sally Struthers voice] Do you like to watch karaoke- sure we all do! Look, we’ve all seen our fair share of singers stumbling through their lines at the dingy hotel and dive bars of the metro. But State Fair karaoke is a beast unto itself. If you’ve ever felt a sick but enjoyable sense of schadenfreude while watching a khaki shorts bro who is six Jager shots too deep and struggling to warble through ‘Lips of an Angel,’ then come on down to Centennial Plaza and watch the show.
Yes, There Will Be Arm Wrestling
In case you had doubts that adults would be participating in sanctioned arm-to-arm combat at the Great State Fair of Oklahoma, rest assured that men and women will 100% be doing just that on Sunday the 23rd from noon to 5:30pm at the Spirit Stage.
There’s a good chance that if you’ve been going to the GSFoO your whole life like me, you’ve probably seen a dozen or so pig races at minimum. But while they’ve been normalized, it’s still pretty weird when you’re sitting there in the stands, cold Bud Light in hand, the edible has just hit, and you’re watching these clueless little piglets chase each other around a sawdust-laden track for the sweet reward of a Fun Size Snickers bar. We all know what happens to the losers, but nobody wants to say it. And then we get a bacon-wrapped hot dog and a lemonade from the midway and don’t think twice about it.
Student Art Exhibits
Sometimes, you need reminder of those middle school days, when you’d write in your journal and complain about how your parents just don’t understand you. If you’re old, crusty, and childless like me, it will all be very strange and confusing. Visit the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center for a refreshing dose of angst and anime fan art.
Live Shark Encounter
It is to be expected that horses, cows, goats, rabbits, and the everyday livestock will be present at the State Fair. But did you know there will be a freakin’ SHARK there? That’s right, if you go to The Bandshell at certain times, a living (and presumably very sad) shark will be swimming around a fishtank while being gawked at by slackjawed suburbanites with corndogs. I’m not saying call PETA, but maybe somebody should call PETA.
If for whatever reason you find yourself at the State Fair at 9:30 am on a Sunday, and you aren’t there because you’re a carnie or showing off your livestock, there will be ‘Come As You Are’ church services. Presumably, they will be praying for no rain or stabbings, and for the winner of the annual Jelly-Off to remain humble.
The Haunted Mansion
Look at that goddamn Grim Reaper, you know this is gonna be sweet and strange.
Space Oddity – The Ultimate David Bowie Experience
It’s kinda crazy to think that a Bowie cover band is playing the last night of the Fair. I mean, David Bowie was a wildly successful and influential artist, but his conceptual and artsy styles of music don’t seem like they’d jibe too well with the stereotypical sleeveless shirt-wearing fairgoers who are there to see Foghat. Speaking of which…
Let’s be honest, there are plenty of good and clean reasons to go to the fair every year, but deep down inside, most of us go because we like to engage in the cruel spectacle of people watching. Just remember that if you’re laughing inside at someone else because you think they’re a weirdo, you’re ten times uglier than them.