Wisconsin State Fair opens; transportation, safety changes to know

The Wisconsin State Fair runs Aug. 4 through Aug. 14, and there are some changes for 2022 when it comes to getting there and getting in safely.

Because of driver shortages, the Milwaukee County Transit System isn't running its freeway flyers from park-and-ride lots. The shuttle out of Waukesha County isn't running this year either. 

No matter what it takes, dedicated fairgoers are doing what it takes to get there.

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"From the second it ends you start counting down ‘til the next year," said Art Frey of Greendale. "The bands are great, the food is amazing, they always have something new on a stick, so you always have to go try the newest thing."

"This is the place to be, it really is," Bob Lucano of Wauwatosa said.

2022 Wisconsin State Fair

"I started sponsoring ‘Girls’ Day’ on Thursday about 20 years ago, so I gather all my girlfriends, and we drink and we eat and we dance," said fairgoer Jeanne Kleman. "I try to come every day. I’ve never made it, but I try to."

Lucano, though, has completed that challenge of attending every day – every year since he was a child. Driving himself, he says, is part of that tradition.

"I don’t miss a day. If it’s raining, it doesn’t matter," he said. "I always have my certain area I park in, I don’t have any problem finding parking."

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There are other ways to make it to State Fair Park, including a new bar and restaurant shuttle program with seven area locations. 

"Just getting a ride is the best case scenario," said Frey.

"Some places have done shuttles in the past, but this year we actually reconfigured our gates and restructured them, so we actually allowed for a little more room for those buses and those shuttles," said Tess Kerksen, the fair's director of public relations.

While some usual buses are unavailable, all roads lead to the same fair – bringing people back year after year.

"MCTS did not run their Freeway Flyers this year, but they do still run their amazing local routes so that’s definitely something for people to check out," Kerksen said.

"The music, the food, the people," said Lucano. "I mean, I’ve been to other state fairs in other areas – this is the best, it really is."

If taking a shuttle, the Wisconsin State Fair recommends travelers get ahold of the bar, restaurant or hotel ahead of time to know how they are operating. 

No matter when you arrive, buying tickets online can save time. For details on hours that the Wisconsin State Fair is open, check out the fair's hours of operation page.

Safety enhancements, policies

Wisconsin State Fair officials introduced several additions and enhancements to existing safety protocols for 2022.

The addition of MVB3x vehicle barriers is one of the new safety enhancements that fair staff have put in place to aid in defining pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Gate and entrance configurations have also been updated to increase safety between pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Additionally, the new layout allows for a better flow as fairgoers enter and exit, delineating fairgoers who have pre-purchased tickets from those who still need to purchase tickets.

While visiting the state fair, all bags must be 9"x10"x12" or smaller. Exceptions will be made for diaper bags as well as bags holding carry-in items for infants and other medical reasons. As always, all bags are subject to inspection. 

Following bag inspections, fairgoers will walk through magnetometer metal detectors that will be in place at every entrance. To make entry quicker and more efficient, the Wisconsin State Fair has outlined what is permitted and not permitted to bring along. Fairgoers are encouraged to leave unnecessary items at home. The full list of items can be on the fair's website

Food and entertainment

With hundreds of vendor locations, there are more than a thousand food and beverage options to choose from at the Wisconsin State Fair.

This year, over 80 of those options are brand new. From the Chicken Bacon Ranch Waffle Stick to the Gummy Bear Brat, there is something for everyone on this list.

READ MORE: Wisconsin State Fair 2022 Sporkies winner: Peño Pretzel Popper Brat

Search for food and beverage items at Wisconsin State Fair with ease using the Food Finder tool on the fair's website. 

The 2022 State Fair Main Stage lineup is also available online.