The storied history of the Wisconsin State Fair began in 1851 when the first Fair was held in Janesville, Wis. Approximately 8,000 – 12,000 people attended the first State Fair for the admission price of 10¢. Since then, almost a million Fairgoers enjoy the annual, fun-filled State Fair each year. Each year between 800,000 and 850,000 Fairgoers devour thousands of cream puffs, shop ‘til they drop, take in fantastic and diverse entertainment, experience life on a farm and create memories for a lifetime. Throughout the 157 years, the Wisconsin State Fair has created memories that have transcended generations and is steeped with the rich traditions of the State of Wisconsin – agriculture, racing, circus, entertainment and family participation.
Since 1851, the Wisconsin State Fair has migrated to numerous Wisconsin towns until it found its home in West Allis in 1892. For significant, historical reasons the Fair was cancelled five different times. The 1861 Fair, set to be held in Madison was canceled due to the Civil War as were the 1862 and 1863 Fairs. During that time the fairgrounds became a training camp for volunteer troops and was renamed Camp Randall. Years later, the University of Wisconsin–Madison football stadium would be built on that site. The next cancellation was in 1893 when the World’s Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago. Officials, anticipating a loss of attendance at the Wisconsin Fair because of that competition, canceled the Fair for a fourth time. The fifth and final cancellation happened in 1945 during World War II at the request of the US Office of War Transportation.