Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Child Friendly State Fair Visit

Tomorrow is the start of the Great Minnesota Get Together - the State Fair. It brings back memories of all the years that either I took the children in my care to the fair or I joined the family to go as a group. We found that being well prepared made for a day of fun rather than a day of frustration. Here are a few tips and some links to the fair website.

Safety First
  • Sunscreen, shade and plenty of water: We lathered up before we left the house and then multiple times throughout the day. Everyone had their own hat and we'd take some breaks in the shady areas. When they were very small we had a big wagon with a sun shade. We brought our own water with us, which I believe you can still do. Keeping hydrated is important. There are places to rest and freshen up - I recommend taking advantage of those throughout the day.
  • Bring along a small first aid kit. You never know when you'll need an anticeptic wipe or small bandaid. There are first aid areas throughout the fair but if you just need a quick little something it can be eaiser to take care of it yourself.
  • In a backpack I had extra clothing just in case we needed something, the first aid kit, sunscreen, water, hand sanitizer, camera and a sketchbook with colored pencils. It was an easy thing to carry or place in the wagon. The sketchbook was really a nice addition so the children could draw if they wished. I'd even include rain ponchos if the weather was uncertain.
  • Appropriate clothing is important. There is a lot of walking involved in any fair experience so shoes that really support you and the children are a good idea. Often the days are warm and sunny, so choosing clothing that breaths well and is comfortable but also protects from the sun is best. I would even dress us in similar colors just so I had a good visual on everyone.
Pace Yourself
  • The fairgrounds are large and spread out. Not all exhibits and areas are interesting to children or child friendly. Make a plan before you go. Because the animals were very exciting to us, we would start our fair experience at the barn area and then make our way to the DNR building and up to the children's rides area.
  • Take a break several times throughout the day. We would find one of the shaded areas and just have some relaxing, people watching time. Younger ones might nap and the older one would sit drawing.
  • We'd take advantage of the many side shows - music, puppet show, magic, dance - to sit down and take five minutes to rest. Then we were off again.
  • Keep to the children's regular schedule as much as possible - meal times, snacks, rest time.
  • There is a lot of special fair food to try but it can get to be too much. We preferred to do a little sampling of the fun food on a stick, sharing a few nibbles of some special foods while also choosing those healthier options that are available.
Fair 2011 State Fair Information
  • Little Farm Hands - education exhibit for children which is awesome. Here is a link to the PDF document about the exhibit,
  • August 22 is Thrifty Thursday with special STEM activities
  • August 23 is Governor's Fire Prevention Day and many special learning activities are planned.
  • August 24 is 4-H Day with a focus on the animal barns and 4-H projects
  • August 26 is Senior, Kids and MN State Patrol Day with an emphasis on safety and discounts for children and seniors
  • August 28 is Read & Ride Day celebrating public libraries along with family fun in Carousel Park.
  • September 1 is MN History Day with great learning experiences.
  • September 2 is Kids and Last Chance Day with a variety of special activities planned
  • Brochure Rack at Get all kinds of information before you go including the Fabulous Fair Alphabet Game Card and so much more.
  • You can also connect to a Fun Finder at which gives you a list of all kinds of fun that can be found each day. There is also a food finder if you want to access that as well.
  • Daily Schedules are available via the Fair website at, there is a schedule for each day.
  • Use your smart phone - for all types of information.

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