Wisconsin State Fair is arguably the most kid-friendly of the Milwaukee-area summer festivals – tons of free things for the kids to do to affordable food to enjoy, plenty of rides and games.
If you’re planning a trip to State Fair this summer, here’s what you need to know.
Hours, Bag Policy and Stroller Rentals
The dates for the State Fair this year are August 4-14, and general admission hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday. SpinCity, the intermediate space with rides and games, opens every day at 11am; closing times vary.
At the gates, all bags are subject to search and metal detectors will be used. Visitors are allowed to carry foodalthough cans and glass bottles are not permitted.
Strollers and trolleys are permitted on the fairgrounds, and they are also available for hire. Single strollers are $12, carts are $17, wheelchairs are $25, and electric scooters are $60 ($40 after 4 p.m.).
Accessible restrooms are available in the Exhibit Center, Wisconsin Products Pavilion, Grandstand Avenue and First Street, and Central Avenue and Second Street. Family restrooms are located in the North Concourse of the Expo Center.
Free activities for children at State Fair
There’s plenty to do for families looking to keep their kids entertained for free.
The Youth Art Exhibit in the Lobby of the Expo Center is an exhibition of artwork by students in grades 6-12 across Wisconsin. There’s also a free make-and-take art space for kids to enjoy.
There is a stage with youth group performances and project displays by Wisconsin youth ages 12-19 in the Youth Expo Hall at Grandstand Avenue and Fifth Street.
There are baby farm animals and family activities in the Compeer Financial Discovery barnyard in the farming village of Sue Wetley Court, south of the lower barn.
There are hands-on activity stations for kids and outdoor activities like hopscotch courts, a water feature, a dragonfly bench and a mushroom refuge in Exploratory Park on the south side of Main Street, in front of the Original Cream Puff pavilion.
Dog shows and demonstrations, including dog dock diving, Frisbee and agility lessons, will be held in the K-9 Sports Arena in the Big Backyard.
There will be cow and goat milking demonstrations, as well as a story hour with Alice in Dairyland at the milking parlor located in Ag Village, on the southeast corner of the Livestock Stable on Central Ave.
We Energies Energy Park, on Wetley Way at Center Street, is a family-friendly, laid-back setting that features interactive games that teach about staying safe around electricity and natural gas, as well as game shows that boost energy literacy, identification bracelets for children and solar-powered racing cars.
The Wilderness Resort Family Variety Stage, on Wetley Way in the Big Backyard, offers family entertainment, such as jugglers, comedians, magicians and music.
The Saz’s Racing Pigs, at Second Street and Badger Avenue, race daily at 11:15 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The giant slide, SpinCity and other rides at State Fair
From the iconic Giant Slide to the midfield, SpinCity, there are tons of rides at State Fair.
The giant slide has been a tradition at the fair for over 50 years. Located on Second Street at Central Avenue, each ride down the 200-foot slide costs $3.
The Pig Slide, at Sue Wetley Court, near the Compeer Financial Discovery Barnyard, bills itself as the world’s largest piggy bank. Two trips on the slide cost $1.
There are pony rides for $10 at Sue Wetley Court near the Compeer Financial Discovery Barnyard.
There are several locations for the Salto Power Jump – trampolines with bungees that kids can jump on for $10. One is at Wetley Way opposite the K-9 Sports Arena, the other on Sue Wetley Court and the other at the Expo Center.
People can ride the Sky Glider for $5 one way and $8 round trip. Tickets are on sale near the exhibition center and near the entrance to SpinCity.
WonderFair Wheel is the tallest moving Ferris wheel in North America, standing 15 stories high. It’s located on Wetley Way at Second Street, and rides cost $6.
SpinCity is the fairground rides and games area, where there are nearly 50 rides, more than 25 games with prizes and concessions. You have to pay for tickets to get on, and each ride and game costs between three and seven tickets. A $40 wristband allows people to take unlimited rides. The ticket office is located at the Grand Walkway, south of the US Cellular main entrance to the fair. For smaller children, the west side of the Grand Walkway has several rides with minimum heights under 48 inches tall. New this year, there will be a SpinCity Sensory Matinee from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, August 8, when the lights and sounds are reduced.
State Fair buildings for shopping, food and air conditioning
At some point during a typical visit to a state fair, you will likely need shelter from the weather, either to avoid the rain or to cool off. Along with various animal barns and a few other smaller buildings, here are the main buildings you can relax in while shopping, eating, or viewing exhibits.
The Expo Center is the largest building. It features food, free samples, activities, official merchandise, and vendor aisles.
The Original Cream Puff Pavilion is the central location for cream puffs. There are also other treats, such as brownies and cookies, for those who don’t like cream puffs.
The Wisconsin Produce Pavilion is a great stop for baked potatoes, apple, cranberry and ice cream treats, pretzels and a few Christmas tree displays.
Corn on the cob, cream puffs, flavored milk and other kid-friendly dishes
For many people, an exhibit at the State Fair is about food. There are over 200 dining venues spread across State Fair Park, with over 800 dishes. Here are some must-haves for kids.
The iconic Dairy is back after a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus. Located near the Expo Center on South Grandstand Avenue at Main Street, this is where people can buy their favorite flavored milk for $1 a cup.
Cream puffs have been sold at the fair since 1924 and are the most popular State Fair food. They can be purchased at the Original Cream Puff Pavilion by queuing inside the building (the line is long but usually fast) or at the express window at the north end of the pavilion. There are also two take-out kiosks for quick cream puffs along Grandstand Avenue. A cream puff is $5, with 3 packs available for $14 and 6 packs for $25.
For people who must have food-on-a-stick at the Fair, there are your typical corn dogs and caramel apples as well as fried treats, Oreos and Twinkies. Here are some of the more unusual offerings.
- The Brownie Waffle Stick is a Belgian waffle baked around a white chocolate chip brownie, served on a stick, dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup. It’s at Waffle Chix on South Grandstand Avenue.
- At Fried Fruit & Fried Olives on Grandstand Avenue between Main Street and Benno’s Micro Alley, visitors can purchase their choice of fruit, in a batter then fried, and dusted with powdered sugar, cinnamon or chocolate. The treat is billed as “healthy on the inside, fun on the outside”.
- For Wisconsin residents who have had enough of the typical cheese curd, the Lakefront Brewery Beer Garden on First Street (in the Big Backyard) sells a Footlong Cheese Curd on a stick.
- And for those who can’t decide between their favorite carnival-inspired dishes, pickle-flavored cotton candy is available at the Pickle Barrel, which has several locations in the exhibit center and one in the Original Cream Puff pavilion.
- Pommes frites are apples that are sliced, fried and coated in sugar and caramel. They are available at Handmade Burgers in the Big Backyard.
- Cookie pie slices are exactly what they sound like (pieces of a giant cookie). They are on sale at the Milk House and come in Cow Pie Brownie and Cookies & Cream flavors.
- It seems odd that it’s never been offered before, but according to the State Fair, this is the first year that frozen ice cream has been available. You can get vanilla or chocolate, in a cone, dish, or with toppings to create a sundae, at Camp Bar on Central Avenue and Center Street (on the west side of Central Mall).
- A Gummy Bear kid, with a Gummy Bear infusion and topped with honey mustard and Gummy Bears, will be at Leadfoots Race Bar and Grill on Grandstand Ave. between Second St. and Benno’s Micro Alley.
- Cedar Crest (located in the Wisconsin Produce Pavilion) sells a flight of ice cream – your choice of 4 different flavors.
Giant Pickles can be found at Pickle Barrel locations in the Exhibit Center and the Original Cream Puff Pavilion.
Corn on the cob roasts are available at a few different locations, including the most popular – New Berlin Lions Club Corn Roast at Central Ave. & Second St.
The State Fair Food Finder is available on the Fair’s website and lets you search for your favorite dish or filter by many helpful topics such as gluten-free, vegetarian options, kid’s portions, and Wisconsin staples.