Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

More State Fair tips for parents, kids

Posted October 16, 2010

I was on the news on WRAL-TV this morning to talk about the State Fair. I spoke with Sloane Heffernan and Renee Chou about some of the tips I shared earlier in the week.

But we talked about some other things, which I thought I'd share here. state fair 2010 Taking your children to the N.C. State Fair

How to avoid sticker shock: I think one idea that I heard from another mom is a great one. Give the kids a budget. Let them know before you go exactly how much they can spend at the fair. Tell them they can spend it on whatever they like, but that there won't be any more (and stick to that). If they come back to you asking for one more ride, one more game, one more ice cream cone, remind them of the conversation and budget and ask them where their money went.

How young is too young to go: I think that's up to you really. I wouldn't bring an infant to the fair primarily because when I had an infant, getting out of the house for a walk was a triumph. But I think there's just too much going on for a wee one. I would set my expectations low for toddlers and preschoolers. Some can handle a big day at the fair. Others can't. I took my older daughter when she was 18 months old and within about 90 minutes, we were both done and we hadn't even made it to the rides.

And one question that we didn't have time for ... At what age can you let a child roam the fair on his own? Again ... I think that depends on the child. Some 11-year-olds would have no problem with this. Other 11-year-olds would get into a lot of trouble. I think late tweens to early teens generally would be about the age when they'd be ready for some freedom. I might start with one of the exhibit halls first and make sure my child was with a group of friends that I trusted.

So those are some of my thoughts. I'd love to hear yours on what's worked for you!

(And thanks to Renee and Sloane for talking with me!)


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  • UNCW_Ash Oct 18, 2010

    One thing we did for our kiddos when they were young was to make "in case I get lost" tags for them. Not wanting them to be prominent and obvious to strangers, I made them small, laminated them and put them in a shoe or pocket. They contained our names and cell phone numbers and we explained to them to ask another mom or grandmother for help and show them their card. Thankfully they never had to use them, but they were ready in case we got separated.

    And buying tickets early is a must to save $$. We explained the # of rides they would each get and helped them keep up with how many they had left as we went. I think it's harder to stay on a food budget than a ride budget though!

  • shall6 Oct 18, 2010

    Sounds like you were there at about exactly the same time I was kelly! At 10:15 a.m., we waited about 15 minutes to ride the kiddie ferris wheel. But by the time we got off, the line waiting to get on was at least three times as long.


  • kellypratz Oct 18, 2010

    I took my 2 daughters to the fair yesterday and got there around 8:30 am., we went to see the animals first. It was nice to be able to walk around the fair without it being too crowded. By 10 we started with rides and the lines were already getting long. I do have to say the tickets are way too expensive. Spent $20 to ride the Ferris Wheel, me, my husband and 2 kids with the ride taking 5 tickets each and a sheet of 20 tickets cost $20. Ugh! but managed to play a few games and win my daughters a stuffed animal and left the fair around 1pm when the crowds were getting busy. My advice, definitely go early.

  • lwilhelm1 Oct 17, 2010

    Be sure to take the kids to the Flower and Garden show. There's a train garden and a small Thomas the Train. Also some great sculpture by the Barrel Monster sculptor, including a cool praying mantis. Ring the bells and look for the pink flamingos too. Check out the demonstrations and look at the Bonsai exibit.

    The Flower and Garden show is a quiet respite from the busy fair and it's open until the fireworks start. It'll be nicely lit after dark. It's located down by the Village of Yesteryear.

    You can see a little preview at my blog here: