Call it the best lead-up to the first day of school that any kid could ask for. Call it, as organizers did for years, the “11 best days of summer” (even though this year’s edition lasts 12 days). Or call it, as they’ve taken to calling themselves, the “UnFAIRgettable My Maryland State Fair.” By any name, the Maryland State Fair, running Thursday through Sept. 4 at the state fairgrounds in Timonium, is certainly the high point of every Free State summer — and has been, for more than a century. Whether it’s letting farmers show off their prize livestock and vegetables, giving city kids the chance to milk a cow or see chicks hatch, thrilling young and old with stomach-dropping rides on the carnival midway, or bringing horse racing back to a track that’s been home to the sport possibly for nearly two centuries, the fair annually shows off the best of what Maryland has to offer. Naturally, visitors from the 1930s and earlier wouldn’t recognize much of what goes on in Timonium today. Although they’d likely nod their heads in bemusement at the traffic jams (some things never change), one wonders what they would make of off-track betting, deep-fried Oreos, rides that spin people around upside-down, and rock music blaring from the loudspeakers. Not to mention cellphones. Then again, they’d probably feel right at home among the giant tomatoes and the blue-ribbon livestock. Enjoy this photographic journey through several generations’ worth of the Maryland State Fair, looking at how things have — and have not — changed. For more info, go to marylandstatefair.com.
*Correction: A previous version of this photo gallery included the incorrect date for the Grand Parade. It is 6 p.m. Sunday. The Sun regrets the error.