Free Fair All: Counties Across the State Are Preparing to Welcome Visitors for a Fairly Good Time

11 minutes

Since 1841, state agricultural fairs have captured America's attention every fall. Many come for the deep-fried and oh-so-delicious foods and carnival rides worth a thrill or two, but agriculturists know these fairs house a wellspring of education and competition.

As more states initiated their own versions of the initial fair in Syracuse, New York, state fairs became a hub of educational and communal advancement for farm families in a time when many farmers were an isolated group. In 1892, Oklahoma City held the first Oklahoma Territorial Fair and other territory towns followed with their own versions.

As the state grew and developed, the fairs became for-profit events meant to sell products and advertise for their respective towns. What we know today as “free fairs” were developed in 1915 to allow a wider audience to partake in the event.

Today’s fairs are still rooted in agriculture, but have become the more inclusive gatherings most of us recognize today. While still housing competitions that call-back to their farm-fresh beginnings, they also feature events like carnivals, concerts, or rodeos.

Two of the biggest annual events in the state are the Oklahoma and Tulsa State Fairs, held every September and October, respectively.

For many, those fairs require more than an hour’s drive, so we wanted to highlight the free fairs in counties across the state so all of us can have a chance to experience fair fun, regardless of where you live.

August

Craig County Free Fair

July 27-August 3

In northern Green Country, the Craig County Fair in Vinita is held at the Craig County Fairgrounds. This expansive fair has exhibitions of animals including pigs, cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, and rabbits. Browse the indoor exhibits to see the baked goods and flower arrangements or get a little Western at the Youth Ranch Rodeo. Visitors might want to see who gets crowned at the Tots and Teens Pageant or watch sharpshooters blast their way to blue ribbons. July 27-August 3. Admission, free. (918) 693-0833 or craigcountyfairgrounds.com.

Get There
Craig County Fairgrounds, 915 East Apperson Road in Vinita or craigcountyfairgrounds.com

Ottawa County Free Fair

August 16-24

One of Oklahoma’s largest county fairs, the Ottawa County Free Fair at the Municipal Fairgrounds in Miami, promises entertainment for all. Watch exhibitions of cattle, goats, dogs, ducks, rabbits, and more. The indoor exhibits include photography, baking, flowers and plants, and a “Best of Wheat” bread-making competition. Head to the carnival, held nightly throughout the fair, for fun rides and food vendors. August 16-24. Admission, free. (918) 542-1688 or oces.okstate.edu/ottawa/county-fair.

Get There
Municipal Fairgrounds, 1129 East Street Southwest in Miami or oces.okstate.edu/ottawa/county-fair

Woodward County Free Fair

August 17-24

The Woodward County Free Fair in Woodward has all the classic show animal events, including cattle, pigs, and sheep. Unique indoor exhibits include horticulture and forestry, but be sure to check out the fine arts competitions, including illustrations and pottery. In case the food displays cause pangs of hunger, food vendors are available. August 17-24. Admission, free. (580) 334-6023 or woodwardeventcenter.com.

Get There
Woodward County Event Center and Fairgrounds, 105 A Temple Houston Drive in Woodward or woodwardeventcenter.com

Canadian County Free Fair

August 21-24

Unique events at the Canadian County Free Fair include the Stick Horse Rodeo, the Kiddy Tractor Pull, and Farm Hand Olympics. Held in El Reno since 1914, this fair is one of Oklahoma’s oldest free fairs. The fair hosts a rodeo, musical entertainment, and tractor races. August 21-24. Admission, free. (405) 262-0683 or canadiancountyfair.com.

Get There
Canadian County Fairgrounds, 220 North Country Club Road in El Reno or canadiancountyfair.com

Cotton County Free Fair

August 21-24

In the middle of the vast, and sometimes sparse Cotton county lies Walters, the county seat, which hosts the Cotton County Free Fair at the Cotton County Agricultural Arena and Expo Center. This fair includes typical fair events like livestock shows and culinary contests, but also showcases the adorable pets of the county during the pet show. Be sure to grab some classic fair fare, like funnel cakes and corn dogs. August 21-24. Admission, free. (580) 875-3136 or oces.okstate.edu/cotton.

Get There
Cotton County Agricultural Arena and Expo Center, 924 West Missouri Avenue in Walters or oces.okstate.edu/cotton

Stephens County Free Fair

August 21-24

The Stephens County Free Fair in Duncan has been held as long as Oklahoma has been a state. Join this sizeable free fair to stroll through the vendor booths, watch the annual crowning of the new pageant queen, and find your inner cowboy at the rodeo. This fair also features concerts, live comedy shows, and a dance. August 21-24. Admission, free. (580) 467-3824 or stephenscountyok.com.

Get There
Stephens County Fairgrounds, 2002 South Thirteenth Street in Duncan or stephenscountyok.com

Pontotoc County Free Fair

August 29-31

Featuring some of the most distinctive attractions on our list, the Blue Ribbon Bash Pontotoc County Fair in Ada is sure to delight any visitor. Watch kids strut their stuff in the kids’ Ninja Warrior contest, check out the talents of local pets at the PAWS dog show, or watch the bags fly at the cornhole contest. You can also stuff your face for free at the watermelon feed and catch some tunes during the concert. A carnival will be held intermittently during the fair. August 29-31. Admission, free. (580) 399-8661 or pontotoccountyfairada.com.

Get There
Pontotoc County Agri-Plex, 1700 North Broadway in Ada or pontotoccountyfairada.com

September

Carter County Free Fair

September 4-7

Head to the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore for the Carter County Fair in early September. Get your furry companion kicks at the pet competitions, which include a costume contest, races, and frog jumping. Check out indoor exhibits like pumpkin decorations, home garden food baskets, and the house plant entries. Stick around on Thursday for the stick horse rodeo at sunset. September 4-7. Admission, free. (580) 224-9626 or cartercountyfair.com.

Get There
Hardy Murphy Coliseum, 600 South Lake Murray Drive in Ardmore or cartercountyfair.com

Cleveland County Free Fair

September 4-8

Visit Norman for the Cleveland County Free Fair at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. Spend the day touring the livestock exhibits, making new friends at the petting zoo, or watching horses and their riders hoof it at the horse show. Don’t forget to stop by the extremely entertaining Celebrity Cow Milking contest before grabbing a bite at the carnival. September 4-8. Admission, free. (405) 360-4721 or clevelandcountyfair.org.

Get There
Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 East Robinson in Norman or clevelandcountyfair.org

Garfield County Fair

September 4-9

The Garfield County Fair at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center in Enid includes favorites including livestock shows, 4-H and FFA exhibitions, and concession stands. What makes this county fair unique is the “Fur Pet’s Sake” pet expo and adoption event. Sponsored by animal welfare groups, animal adoption agencies, and pet retailers, this event is set to find good homes for some less-fortunate companions. September 4-9. Admission, free. (580) 237-0238 or chisholmtrailexpo.com.

Get There
Chisholm Trail Expo Center, 111 West Purdue Avenue in Enid or chisholmtrailexpo.com

Pushmataha County Free Fair

September 11-14

Head southeast to the Pushmataha County Free Fair in Antlers. This fair features crafting and art exhibitions, including painting, origami, and home garden displays. Check out the county carnival for all the fried foods and sugary sweets that go with it. For more homemade eats like pie, cake, and snacks, visit the concession stand, which is open breakfast through dinner. September 11-14. Admission, free. (580) 298-5563 or oces.okstate.edu/pushmataha.

Get There
Pushmataha County Fair Building, 610 Southwest D Street in Antlers or oces.okstate.edu/pushmataha
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