One of the many things you may not know about me is that I was a 4-H girl growing up. I spent ten years of my life raising rabbits, of all critters.
I really did enjoy the 4-H program growing up, and the grand finale of the 4-H year was the county fair. A week was spent sleeping in a camper, tending to animals, patrolling with friends, and scarfing fair food. I loved it.
I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that my girlhood love for the fair has carried over into my mommy years. Visits to the fair aren’t quite a carefree anymore, though.
My week stay at the fair is no more. Instead, we pick our favorite day and soak in as much of it as we can, then we come home exhausted and wait for it to roll around the next year.
It’s a grand day, but it does take some momma skills to coral five littles and advanced preparations to keep us from living solely on cotton candy and fried Oreos. At the end of the day, with happy and tuckered out children, all the work is well worth it!
Choosing the Right Day
Our county fair takes place around the first or second week of September. That means that the schools are already in session and we’re back into our homeschool routine. However, this actually works well for us!
One of the wonderful benefits to homeschooling is that it gives us a lot of flexibility in our schedule. We look at the fair’s schedule and choose the day that seems to be the most fitting for our family, not having to worry about anyone being absent from school.
For us, that means we go on “Stroller Day”. Kiddie rides are half-price for the afternoon, so we can afford to buy our littles the coveted ride bracelets. Tough white paper with brightly colored dots never looked so good.
We do rides for a few hours, and then tour the grounds. Animals, 4-H and school displays, antique tractors, and more are all admired more easily since fewer people are in attendance in the early afternoon.
Having the Right Gear
I electively chose of my own free will to take five children, ages nine and below, to the fair. By. My. Self. Keeping them accounted for and near me was crucial!
With the ages of our youngest two, I’ve found it easiest to keep our Baby C. in the Boba the entire time while little Miss H lounges in the stroller. At age 2, she really can’t handle too much walking. Miss A, who is five, is used to doing the walking now.
The Boba was really put to the test while we were at the fair. I had a baby in it for about 6 hours straight, only taking her out for nursing and diaper changes, and my back was never sore the entire time. Win for Boba.
Planning the Right Schedule
There’s a lot going on at a fair, and if it is a larger event, it might be too much to pack into one day. Our county fair is rather large, and we really can’t do it all in one day.
That means that we need to pick and choose what we see, taking into consideration what our children like best.
This year, rides were a top priority, then the school and 4-H displays, and most of the animals. We didn’t see many pigs and we missed the antique tractors and riding horses. But they got to enjoy their favorites, and it made the day work.
Packing the Right Food
I know, one of the irresistible indulgences of the fair is the food. But for us, if we ate fair food all day, we’d end up with stomachaches. One can only handle so many fried cheese curds, you know.
I planned for the littles and me to eat fruits, veggies, and nuts while we were there during the day so that when my husband joined us after work, we could just pick out whatever fair food we wanted for the evening.
My oldest daughter, Miss L, cut up watermelon, cucumbers, and carrots for me the night before. I made up a strong herbal tea to keep us hydrated and give us some extra nutrients. I seasoned some Brazil nuts for crunchy protein.
Then, that morning, I made up a batch of my Coconut Flour Power Cookies along with our morning smoothies. The extra cookies went with us since they are very filling.
My stroller basket was packed, but we never went hungry or got thirsty! In hindsight, I would have packed apples and pears instead of the watermelon for ease. But everything else was great to have with us!
Savoring the Right Treats
As committed as I am to real food, I have my fair food favorites that I just can’t leave without enjoying!
We decided we would eat dinner at the fair that evening, but truthfully, I don’t know that we’ll do that again. None of us really enjoyed the sandwiches we picked and we learned where not to buy french fries.
However, if I leave the fair after enjoying a famous donut, milkshake, and real fair french fries, I’m a happy camper. We each get one small donut, we share a few milkshakes, and we split a big container of fries. It’s just the right amount of fun without going overboard in our budget and our diet.