It’s that time of the year again … state fair season! From coast-to-coast, state fairs are popular events promising almost every kind of food on a stick imaginable, big-name entertainment, carnival rides, unique competitions, educational exhibits and more! There’s truly something for everyone in your family. If going to a state fair is on your bucket list or you want to maximize your experience this year, we’ve got some tips to help you make the most of your visit!

1. Plan Ahead – Must Do’s

With the crowds and size of the fairgrounds, you can easily become overwhelmed. Before you walk through the gates, make a list of your “must do’s” and “must see’s.” You’ll likely be able to find a daily schedule on the fair website or even a preview guide highlighting attractions, shows and events. Some state fairs offer downloadable apps for food, fairground maps, etc., allowing you to find your favorites with a tap of a screen. You won’t be able to do everything, so creating a strategy to maximize your day can help prevent leaving feeling disappointed.

2. Look for Fair Deals

From food to souvenirs, be prepared to spend some money but there are some opportunities to save at the fair:

  • Buy tickets ahead of time. Some fairs offer discounted admission tickets if you buy them early. Also, look online to see if there are certain days or times the price of admission is lower – like before 5 p.m. or the last day of the fair. If you plan on riding rides, check to see if wristbands or family fun packs can be purchased to help save on costs. And, if you plan to leave during the day, be sure to get your hand stamped for re-entry (if offered).
  • Carpool. Parking costs can be quite pricey. Carpooling with friends or family can help you cut costs.
  • Buy a refillable cup. Four to five dollars per drink can add up quickly. Look for vendors that offer refillable drink cups and offer reduced prices for refills.

3. Know What to Bring and Wear

You won’t want to carry a bunch of unnecessary items around all day, but you will want to pack the essentials:

  • Refillable water bottles
  • Sun protection – sunscreen, hats, etc.
  • Cash
  • Stroller, wagon, etc.
  • Comfy shoes, light-colored and sweat-resistant clothing, etc.

And, if the forecast calls for a chance of rain, be sure to pack the rain gear (umbrella, poncho, etc.)

4. Try Iconic State Fair Foods

It comes as no surprise that one of the main attractions is state fair food. You can find almost anything deep-fried, on a stick or both. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and try something new or different. That’s half the fun!

5. Catch a Show or Contest

From talent shows and concerts to educational demonstrations, you definitely won’t be bored. There’s always something for all ages. Check out the state fair schedule of events to see what interests you. You may even find a contest to enter – like yodeling or baking!

6. Stay Hydrated and Keep Cool

There’s so much to see and do but with the summer heat your fun day at the fair can quickly take a turn. Be sure you’re being safe in the heat by staying hydrated and planning breaks in the air conditioning. If possible, try to plan outdoor things like visiting the livestock barns for the morning and then head inside to view exhibits in the afternoon. Air conditioned buildings offer opportunities to get inside and cool down for a bit.

7. Beat the Crowds

With state fairs boasting record attendance numbers each year, it’s nearly impossible to avoid crowds and long lines all-together. Plan on getting to the fair early or even pick a less popular day of the week to make your visit more enjoyable.

In 2018, the Minnesota State Fair broke their overall attendance record with a total number of 2,046,533 attendees. The Iowa State Fair also broke their total attendance record in 2018, with 1,130,260 people passing through the gates.

Plan Your Trip!

State fairs are a place to indulge and immerse yourself in everything it has to offer. As events that began as a way to promote and display agricultural, each one has something unique to offer fair-goers. A road trip to a state fair close to home or across the country, could be just the fun-filled summer adventure your family needs!