Exploring the Oregon State Fair: Fabulous Food

A Fair Without Food? Unthinkable!

What would the State Fair be without food? That's unthinkable and fairgoers seem to agree.  While nutritionists may cringe at many of the foods served, fairgoers think it's worth the splurge to get the whole State Fair experience. They consume food at the fair in prodigious quantities. For example, in 1962, officials estimated that in the course of nine days at the fair, the public would consume approximately 95,000 pounds of meat. Of the total amount, 40,000 pounds would be ground into hamburger and the rest would be served in hot dogs, steaks, and other cuts. The Bakery estimated it would use 18,000 dozen burger buns; 3,200 dozen hot dog rolls, 3,500 large loaves of bread, and 600 dozen doughnuts would be consumed. The fair evolved over the years to match the tastes of those attending. Thus, in 1983 the State Fair opened 11 new restaurants in an area called “The International Food Fair.” Featured entrees included pizza, Irish baked potatoes, Swedish Pastry, and Mandarin Chinese. Still, by 2003, the most popular food at the fair was the common hamburger!

A man eats cotton candy

Proving that the State Fair is for the young at heart, 70-year-old Efin Podgornoff of Gervais enjoys cotton candy at the 1964 fair. (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Records, Scrapbook)

A man holds a piece of pizza a a woman watches

While this guy holds a slice of pizza at the 1985 State Fair, he appears to be all ham.  (Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center)

A boy and girl eat ice cream cones

Oregon Governor Mark Hatfield's children, Mark Jr., 4, and Elizabeth, 5, enjoy some ice cream with Oregon Dairy Princess Linda Jean Schild at the 1964 State Fair. (Oregon State Archives, State Fair Records, Scrapbook)

A menu for a State Fair food booth

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This 1967 menu for John Boston's Concession Stand at the State Fair offers a jumbo hamburger and a slice of pie for under a buck. That leaves a nickel for a tip.  (Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center) View a 1971 St. Vincent de Paul snack shop menu with prices.

Crowds of people walk by food booths

This undated shot shows crowds at the State Fair food booths to the right. The Grandstands are to the left. (Oregon State Archives)

A popsicle stand at the State Fair

If you have ever heard the saying "let's blow this popsicle stand," this is the place to do it at the State Fair.  (Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center)