This year has been full of travel, but I’ve done it all without my husband. Except for one trip to Decatur, Illinois for a marriage conference, I’ve driven, flown, taken the train or walked everywhere that I’ve visited. In August, I attended the Minnesota State Fair for the first time and I took ALL of my children. Yes, even the ever elusive teen attended with us, and we had a grand ol’ time! It rained quite a bit, but that didn’t stop our fun!
Usually, I go into situations like these with a very strict plan, and a map to hit all of the best places in the least amount of time. This time was different. We were on a tour thanks to the Rosevill Visitors Association, and got to see a bit of the layout of the fairgrounds and some of their more popular spots before it got too crowded. We hit Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar, Math on a Stick, the Agriculture Building and the Eco Experience. It was a delight for both the eyes AND stomach, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time that we visit. Maybe not yearly, but definitely again.
If you’re new here, you’ll need to understand that I’m not afraid to travel a lot with my children – alone. Not because Mr. Houseful doesn’t love it, but because he still works full time outside of the house, and because he can’t always take off as long as we want to. This trip, I loaded up our car, which gave out on us in Beloit, Wisconsin, and then I switched to a Kia Sorento from Drive Shop and we were on our way. That’s a story for another day though.
We arrived at the fair first thing in the morning, and were given a bit of background about the fair, including top sellers, new booths, and general history. You can tell that Minnesotans really love their fair! Our first stop was to Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar, where we learned that the cookies came from a couple of years of testing dough. They also have the ability to churn out 190,000 cookies per hour at full capacity! Yes, the cookies are indeed really good. I just needed a COLD glass of milk to go along with them, and I would have been in heaven. I didn’t make it to the Dairy Barn quite fast enough.
Part of my love of travel includes going to places and finding more information for my #WeSowWeGrow initiative. The agriculture building was AMAZING, and we had a little bit more of a show about bees, and SUGAR BEETS and CHRISTMAS TREES! My youngest urban farmers loved touring this building and laughing heartily at everything that they already knew, and getting wide-eyed with all of the new information that they took in. The ladybug loved hanging out in the bee area, and searching for the queen bee as she laid eggs in the hive.
Here are my tips for doing the Minnesota State Fair or ANY state fair with children:
1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
You’ll need them. I wore my Keen sandals, jeans, a tee and a poncho that I was given because using an umbrella while walking around is not he business.
2. Skip the kiddie rides.
Yes, I said it. They are WAY to expensive. Most rides were five dollars for less than 2 minutes of a ride, and well, that can get expensive when you have more than one child. If you only have one kid – weigh your options and steer clear. I’m not hating on the rides in general, just the fact that 100 dollars could easily be spent AND YOUR KIDS WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED! Oh, I’m sorry. I was yelling.
3. Buy food that is shareable.
Ask the vendors for the food boats, and then share all! Try food that you wouldn’t normally get on a regular day out to eat, but still save room for those special items. Like Sweet Martha’s Cookies and that TURKEY LEG of course!
4. Let the kids lead you.
The twins wanted to stop and decorate Christmas ornaments in the Agriculture Building. As much as I love Christmas, I wasn’t really keen on sitting for too long, as I had more area to cover. Guess who sat?
5. Bring an older kid along and bribe them to be your helper.
Nathaniel was mine, and he basically got to eat and do everything he wanted in exchange for me not losing my head over three squirmy and inquisitive kids. Sure he kept a solemn face the entire time, but he didn’t starve!
6. Be fluid.
It’s one of the things that I learned in the Navy. Hard-core plans are always going to be ruined. Know that things will change, and that change is okay.
7. HAVE FUN
Seriously. Have fun. We spend so much time being the adult and so stringent in our regular lives, that we don’t always let go and laugh as much as we should. I had a blast dancing in the rain and people watching with my children. We even imagined where everyone was from since we had such a diverse group of media with us that day.
Do you have any more tips that you can share in regard to working state fairs? We’re happy to have TWO under our belts now. Can’t wait to add more!