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Published: August 16, 1998

* Most state fairs don't offer actual freak shows anymore, but strange things still happen.
* The New York State Fair (starts Aug. 27) features Brian J. Ruth, ''Master of the Chain Saw,'' a chain-saw sculptor who, as a stunt, once trimmed his fingernails with a Poulan Handyman Plus ES-300. * The Iowa State Fair offers Norma Duffield (Duffy) Lyon, a butter sculptor who in 1994 fashioned a 400-pound, full-body Garth Brooks. * Last year, the Minnesota State Fair offered 27 different foods-on-a-stick, including ''Walleye on a Stick.'' * This year, 77 state and county fairs will hold a National Best Spam Recipe Contest. Twenty other fairs have requested to hold to the event. * In 1995, George Steinbrenner, incoming chairman of the Florida State Fair, pledged to reduce admission from $7 to nothing by 1998. Adult price in 1998: $7.