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How to Survive the Fair with Small Kids

As we were driving to my kids’ childcare provider’s house one morning I saw that “FAIR THIS WAY” signs had been put up. And I made the mistake of saying something about it out loud. 

“Oh! The fair must be starting soon!” I said.

Then pipes up my 3-year-old, “I wanna go to the fair!” And those were the words I heard for five straight days. 

So, that weekend I decided to be FunMom and suggest that we all go to the fair on Sunday. 

Really going anywhere with a 3-year-old and 15-month-old is an ordeal, but when you’re going somewhere like the fair where it could be hot, crowded and has potential for sensory overload, it’s good to have a game plan in place to help you relax a little bit more and survive, er, I mean, enjoy the day.

Here’s how I survived the fair with small kids.

Don’t go. Just kidding. Sort of. Okay, here’s what I really did:


My 3-year-old could live on sugar all day, every day if I’d let him. And let’s be real, part of the fun of going to the fair is partaking in the sweet, gooey goodness that you don’t have in everyday life. But, in order to keep the sweets at a minimum (and my wallet in tact) I set the expectations ahead of time. I let him know that we would be having two treats at the fair and that otherwise if he were hungry we’d offer him snacks that we had brought along with us. (Some of our favorite easy snacks are uncured pepperoni and salami, cheese sticks, almonds, bananas and Lara Bars.) He did pretty well with these guidelines and he had the power of choosing which two fair foods he wanted to have.

Regular quiet breaks.

When you walk into a fair it’s like sensory overload. It might be hot, crowded, there’s loud music playing, lots of noise and chatter…and that can be a lot for little kids! It’s no wonder that they get irritable and fussy when stimulation is coming at them from all sides. To help alleviate some of these we scoped out the fairgrounds and found some places that were shaded and a little bit more far removed from the hustle and bustle. And every hour to hour and a half we went back to these spots to recoup. Yes, we stopped a lot. But having these mini breaks throughout the day helped the kids regain their cool. (Oh, and us parents, too).

Plan it out.

There is SO much to see and do at the fair that you could literally spend hours roaming around. But as we all know kids have a cool meter, and we want to get the fun stuff in before their cool meter runs out. So take a look at your state fair’s website and/or fairgrounds map and make a list of the things that you and your kiddos absolutely want to experience. For us, it was seeing all of the animals, checking out the kids interactive areas like the petting zoo and hands on activities and, for my husband and I, walking through the art exhibits.

Going places with kids can be hard work. If you went to the State Fair this year or if you’re planning on going, what are some of your survival guide tips? Share them by commenting on this post!

Good luck on your next family day!



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