State fairs in photos: Food, livestock and fun

Attending the state fair is a favorite annual tradition for millions of Americans every late summer or early fall.

The first state fairs in America began in the mid-19th century as exhibitions where farmers could promote their livestock and produce. Even today, agriculture ranks as a top U.S. export and creates 21 million U.S. jobs.

Over time, state fairs began to include amusement rides, carnival games, concerts and an assortment of food — everything from fried pickles to butter sculptures made to look like cows. See for yourself in these photos from previous years:

Blue ribbon on top of corn on the cob (© Getty Images)
A display of prize-winning corn at the Iowa State Fair (© Getty Images)
Women cheering for pigs running in a race (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
Cheering for a pig race at the Kansas State Fair (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
Girl standing next to a calf (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
A teenager and her calf took top honors at the Indiana State Fair. (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
Man looking underneath a giant pumpkin on a forklift (© Getty Images)
A competitor checks the underside of a 465-kilogram pumpkin as it is hoisted by a forklift during the Big Pumpkin Contest at the Iowa State Fair. (© Getty Images)
Cow made of butter (© AP Images)
A cow made of butter at the Iowa State Fair (© AP Images)
People walking with sheep in a ring (© Getty Images)
Contestants show sheep during a competition at the Iowa State Fair. (© Getty Images)
People riding a carnival ride (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
Thrill seekers take a whirl on a ride at the Texas State Fair. (© Joel Sartore/National Geographic)