The Unicorn Mamas are BIG fans of the State Fair. We call this week we’re heading into “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. It is seriously our Christmas. After Craft Beer, our love of the State Fair is one of the biggest things we have in common. We might be a little obsessed. We wanted to bring you a little “Guide to the State Fair” from a parent perspective.
Be sure to read to the end. We have an awesome giveaway!
// Tried and True Favorite Kid Friendly Food //
There are the obvious choices, Sweet Martha’s Cookies, Cheese Curds, etc. Here are a couple of things that we each find our families love each year.
Beth – Ollie’s favorite food year round is a Corn Dog, so Corn Dogs (not Pronto Pups) top the list and there is a stand just about once a block, so you won’t be far from one at any given time. Something about the State Fair Corn Dogs are magical. Runner up: Tot Boss Tator Tots. While a new vendor to the State Fair, Tot Boss has had a food truck in the Twin Cities for a couple of years now and Ollie is a big tator tot fan, so I felt it was reasonable to include them as a tried and true favorite!
Jen – World’s. Greatest. French Fries. Everyone loves them, they are easy to walk around with, and they are fairly mess-free. Just skip the ketchup.
We also looooove the the Corn Roast stand. I could eat that all day.
Plus: The aforementioned cookies. Sweet Martha’s FOREVER!
// Best Free Activities //
Let’s face it, you pay a lot to get in the door (don’t forget you can get discounted tickets at Cub Foods through this Wednesday!), you pay for all your food and beverages and ride tickets. Here are some things we love at the Fair for kids that are FREE and FUN.
Beth – Last year we spent close to an hour at Alphabet Forest. Ollie loved taking time to read books and rest a bit and he loved the spelling activities (even though he was still under two), we played with the letters and spelled his name and he thought it was the best thing ever. Runner up: Walking around Machinery Hill and sitting on lawn mowers or other big machines. We spent a ton of time doing this as well, the vendors don’t mind and even expect that kids will want to climb on their things.
Jen – Avery and Callie also loved the tractors last year. I think we spent a solid hour plus letting them climb in every. single. one. Because they are all sooooo different.
The fair also has some great activities in the Eco Building. They loved the YOXO table where they could build all sorts of fun things with reused materials. One of them definitely had a fit when we left.
// Best Shopping for Kids //
There is so much shopping available at the State Fair. At the recent Blogger Fair preview event we learned there are close to 800 shopping vendors and a wide variety to choose from and many of them are kid friendly! Here’s a couple of good picks from us.
Beth – Every year since Ollie was still in the womb we have stopped by this adorable shop in West End Market called Greg’s Toys. Greg is a retired grandfather who makes wooden cars, trucks and boats. They are quality toys and Ollie loves every item we’ve ever got for him. It’s fun now that he’s older, we let him pick out his own.
Jen – I second Greg’s Toys. We have bought gifts from his shop a few times. Big selection and really well made toys!
Having little girls, I love to play dress up with them. Anytime there is a fun looking hat, scarf, or glasses, we stop. And usually buy. Like this hat.
If you are brave enough to brave the Grandstand, you will be rewarded with a ton of cute options for the kiddos. And if you feel like you are going overboard on the spending, just do what I do: Hide it until Christmas!
// Favorite Tradition //
Every family has a yearly tradition it seems. Here are a couple that we love!
Beth – We love the merry-go-round near the Grandstand. It was the first ride we ever took Ollie on and I hope to keep taking him on it until he’s old enough to roll his eyes at me forcing him to do it!
Honorable mention goes to the Skyride, Nate and I have always loved riding it and we brought Ollie on it for the first time last year. He didn’t hate it at least!
Jen – We have been getting Christmas ornaments each year we go to the Fair. Last year was the first time Avery got to help choose which one we bought. It was so fun and I can’t wait for her to help again. Plus, they are the most loved ornaments that get prime seating on the tree every year.
// Photo Stops //
Beth – There are so many fun places to take pictures with your kids! Fairchild, the mascot, turns 50 this year. If you get a picture with him or his nephew, Fairborne, you can get a commemorative button!
The TPT (PBS) booth also has characters that provide for photo opportunities with characters, like Curious George. Just be aware that sometimes seeing these characters in larger than life form can be a little bit overwhelming for some kids (cough…Oliver…cough.)
Jen – I hope we can find a fun TPT character to take pictures with this year! The girls love pretty much every show on that station.
When Beth and I were on the fairgrounds taking pics for the blog, we found these cool statues around. I don’t know how long they have been there, but it was my first time seeing them.
And here’s another favorite:
// Most Looking Forward To //
And finally we wanted to each share what we’re most looking forward to doing with our kids at the Fair this year!
Beth – I’m excited to get Ollie some Mini-Donuts this year. We haven’t done it before and donuts are his favorite. I think he’ll be thrilled to get his very own bag to enjoy! I’m also hoping to bring him over to the Kidway to try out some of the smaller, age appropriate rides. I think he’ll enjoy some of them a lot!
Jen – We tried some rides at the Kidway last year. Avery loved them. I’m hoping to take the girls on the Giant Slide this year. And making that a new tradition.
// Best Tips //
We both are EXPERTS on the Fair because we’ve both been going for years. Here are a few little tips we love that will hopefully make your Fair day go a little more smoothly.
Beth – Visit the animal buildings first thing in the morning, they are far less crowded and it’s less hot, so the buildings aren’t as warm and smelly.
Honorable mention: the Lactation Station at MyTalk 107.1’s booth. This is a great place to go if you have a little one under two or so and need to change or feed them. They have a wonderful set up for mamas, whether nursing or not.
Jen – Download the State Fair app on your phone. I used it constantly last year. Mostly to remember where the food was that I wanted to eat. Plus: its FREE.
Also: Park and Ride. So easy. Hassle free. Plus the kids love riding the bus.
We have an awesome giveaway! Enter to win 2 tickets to see Bonnie Raitt at the Grandstand on September 5th (Labor Day)!! Plus 2 entrance tickets to the Fair. And a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book!
We will notify the winner Monday, August 29th! Good luck!