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3 uniquely Arizona things to see at the Arizona State Fair

By Chelsey Heath
Published: Saturday, September 30, 2023 - 7:05am

State fairs certainly didn’t start in Arizona, although the fair and the fairgrounds predate statehood.

But if you visit the Arizona State Fair, you might see some things that are uniquely Arizona.

Contest entries

The fair features the winners of competitions of food, crafts and more, with entrants from across Arizona. Some of the entries reflect the Grand Canyon State.

Guitar in case
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
This prize-winning guitar by James Jarrel of Phoenix featuring the Arizona flag was on display in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Hobby rockets standing in front of tables
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
The Superstition Spacemodeling Society has an Arizona-themed rocket on display in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Art piece made with licenses plates to spell out Cardinals
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
This art piece made by Eva Mallory of Peoria was on display in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Quilt with panels showing southwest designs and cactus
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
This quilt by Marilyn Thibodeau of Tempe features cactus designs and was on display in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Art piece featuring a potted cactus
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
This art piece in the 6th Grade category by Anna Chesney of Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary also features a cactus and was on display in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Food

You may see these vendors at other state fairs, but Mexican food and Navajo dishes like fry bread speak to the history of the state.

Sign for food items available from food vendor
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
This vendor features dishes in the style of Sinaloa, Mexico, at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Carne Cafe Taco Stand sign on their booth
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
This vendor features Mexican dishes at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

Food vendors sign advertising fry bread
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
A food vendor at the Arizona State Fair on Sept. 22, 2023.

History

"Madhouse on McDowell" sign
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
The Veterans Memorial Coliseum once housed the Phoenix Suns, giving it the moniker “The Madhouse on McDowell.”

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum once housed the Phoenix Suns, giving it the moniker “The Madhouse on McDowell.” The Phoenix Roadrunners ice hockey team also played there.

The Suns and the Phoenix Mercury temporarily practiced in the Coliseum in 2020 while Talking Stick Arena was undergoing renovations.

The Arizona Coyotes even considered making the Coliseum their home in 2015.

Arizona State Fair grandstand
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
Arizona State Fair grandstand was built in the mid-1930s.

Grandstand events include the Native American Rodeo, featuring riders and ropers from around the state and country. Today's grandstand dates to the 1930s.

If you go

Open: Sept. 22 through Oct. 29 at 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix.

Admission: Starts at $15/person. Deals are available.

More info: azstatefair.com.

Arizona History Arts + Entertainment