It’s not fall in the South without hitting up your local state fair, most of which kick off this month. Southern Living photographer Gary Clark logged dozens of hours capturing the magic of the fair. Here, are some of the insider tips he picked up along the way. We’ll raise a funnel cake to that.
You’ll need a good two-to-three days to really take in the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. Only have one day? Start in the back at the botanical gardens and work your way forward. Make sure you don’t miss the demolition derby, and stay for the fireworks. They’re a great way to end your day.
The swings are classic. The lines get really long at night, so ride during the day. You’ll get a good look at what else the fair has .
The Louisiana State Fair has some of the best shows around. This was a family-run circus out of Florida.
Fair food has come along way. Candy apples now come in as many flavors as Baskin-Robbins has ice cream flavors. Indulge in red velvet funnel cake and the Krispy Kreme double cheeseburgers with bacon, and hand-dipped footlong corn dogs. Don’t worry about counting calories, you’re going to be walking and screaming them off anyway.
Don’t forget your camera at night. A long exposure and tripod go a long way to making stunning color Spirographs, like this image from the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport. If you don’t want to carry a tripod, get one of the smaller gripping tripods that can wrap around lamp posts or smaller poles.
What’s your favorite state fair experience? Tell us in the comments!