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5 Tips on Surviving the Fair with Small Kids

Before I was a mommy I had traveled all around our beautiful country. One of my favorite things to do was always the State Fair! From Texas to Oregon to Florida the state fair holds great memories for me.

This year I got to visit the Florida State Fair for the first time with my best friend and our kids 3, 5, and 6 years old in tow. They had no idea what the Florida State Fair would hold for them and on the day we decided to go it went something like this: “Hey kids, what do you think your favorite thing at the fair will be?” Response: “CANDY!”

Now, for all of my life, I don’t actually ever remember there being candy at the fair. Fried Oreo? Check. Gigantic corn dog? Check. Cold Beer? Check. Candy? Hum, not sure. And actually, once we got there they forgot all about candy thank goodness.

Here is the low down of the state fair as enjoyed with two moms and a 3, 5, and 6 year old and some tips we came up with to help your trip go smoothly.

1. Pack a few familiar snacks.

I packed GoGo Squeeze, organic crackers, and organic gummy bears (for a treat in case we didn’t find candy). As an adult, I can handle, and was excited, about finally trying the Donut Burger (check out this photo before the kids deconstructed it and ate the donut part only) and other fair food offerings but your little monkeys may actually refuse the oddities we adults crave. Yes, even fit moms like to indulge in fair food! The 5-year-old did eat a donut-less burger at the Donut Burger Stand and we purchased 4 different types of sandwiches there to sample between the 5 of us, but for the other two kids, the unfamiliar food offerings meant their lunch consisted of ¼ of a donut and fries. NOTE: The fair does say no outside food or drinks allowed, but they let us through with the kids stuff since they were young.

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2. Visit the animals.

When we arrived at the fair and there wasn’t candy falling from the sky the 6-year-old was disappointed and actually said he wanted to leave! While my friend stood in line for wristbands, I took the kids to the poultry and rabbit barn. Mood changer. They got to pet the prize-winning bunnies, hold baby chicks, and when I had them sit in the bleachers and watch a cow auction they got to eat their familiar snacks with treat gummy bears.

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3. Get a ride wristband for at least one of the adults.

There are many rides your kindergarten age and younger kids cannot go on, but there are also plenty that they can if you go with them. Don’t be cheap, buy the wristband and avoid tears when you have to say no to the Wiggly Worm for one kid while the other two run off and have a good time. Most rides in the kid area you had to be 36" to ride but if you were 36-42" you had to have an adult and most 46"+ you could ride alone in the kid area. There was also a toddler area but we didn't make it over there. Also, going on the big Ferris Wheel squeezing the kids tight while we enjoyed the view from the top was a major mommy highlight!

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4. Bring their water bottles and locate a fountain.

We had a hard time finding places to fill up water in the rides area where we spent most of our time standing in the sun. A lot of food stands had self-serve soda machines but no water in them. The day started out cool but heated up quickly, so water was a definite must to keep the kids from melting down.

5. Know where the closest bathroom is before you start your activities.

The lines weren’t that long on the little kid rides but a fair is a BIG place for short legs. At one point, we rushed to a big outdoor bathroom to find it was locked! The six-year-old is really good at holding it but I was pretty tempted to let him go behind a tent when the bathrooms were locked! We later located a port-o-potty but it was quite a walk.

BONUS TIP: Park by Gate 3, that's where the younger kid rides are. We took a stroller for the 3-year-old however when it was time to go and the kids were hot and tired and all trying to climb on or get a piggy back ride it’s nice that we weren’t far from the gate or car. It's definitely worth mentioning (though the kids didn’t notice this much) that parking was free and convenient!

We left the Florida State Fair with only one kid meltdown (a win in our book) and had an amazing time making new memories. At first, we thought it was weird that the kids were out of school for Fair Day (new kindergarten parents!) and were iffy about taking the day off of work and school, but it was definitely worth the new memories we made.

The Florida State Fair is definitely on our calendar for next year! We probably only completed about 5% of the fair activities, so you could definitely go multiple times and spend hours there with older kids. For their first experience, 4 hours was plenty. For information on fair hours, times, and prices visit www.floridastatefair.com.

Here is Regina and the 3 kids on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

About the Author

Andrea Bowe is the mommy of a spirited 5-year-old girl and co-owner with her bestie of FIT4MOM Tampa Bay and the Village Square Family Fitness and Enrichment Center in Tampa, Florida.

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