For much of human history, people in the same community have gotten together regularly to honor the past and look ahead to the future. Summer and winter solstices and harvest festivals have been celebrated for thousands of years — many of which evolved into modern holidays and festivals.
The tradition has carried on to modern times in the United States. All 50 states have their own identity, culture, traditions, and celebrations. Communities will often come together to celebrate holidays, historical figures, music, art, and other aspects of the area that give it its own identity.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed state tourism websites to determine the best fair, festival, or event in every state.
Many of the events honor the cultural heritage of the people who immigrated to the state en masse. Home to a large German-American population, Cincinnati, Ohio, hosts one of the largest Oktoberfests in the world. New York and New Jersey hold feasts for Catholic saints, keeping alive the traditions of Italian immigrants who first came to the U.S. generations ago.
Other states hold festivals to celebrate the state’s natural resources and agricultural products. Traverse City, Michigan, holds the National Cherry Festival each summer since the state is the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S. And with miles of coastline, Virginia holds the annual Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, where people can surf, build sand sculptures, and enjoy the beach.
Some of these events aren’t exclusive to the state, but their size and importance really separate them from the pack. For instance, horse races are held in many states, but none can compare to the Kentucky Derby. There are massive music festivals all across the nation, but they just don’t have the cultural significance of Coachella in California or the sheer size of Wisconsin’s Summerfest.
In order to determine the best fair, festival, or event in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed lists of events from state and local tourism organizations as well as other sources. Events were selected based on a number of criteria, including attendance, viewership (if the event is televised), originality, and how well the event represents the state. Events have taken place continuously since the year listed, with some exceptions such as World War II or extreme economic hardship.
Attendance figures come from various media and festival sources and are based on the most recent available data. Figures represent the total combined attendance figures of all days of the festival or event. The dates for the event are for 2018.