Prepare for a family day at the fair

Local fairs dot the landscape in late spring, summer and fall, offering fairgoers plenty of attractions and rides to fill warm days and evenings. Families who plan ahead for the festivities may be able to improve their experiences.

Purchase passes in advance. Some fairs enable visitors to purchase entry tickets, parking passes and even game vouchers online. There are advantages to doing so, such as bundling discounts. Buying tickets in advance also cuts down on time spent waiting in line.

Devise a basic plan. Look over the list of attractions and activities to gauge what you want to get out of the fair. Some fairs post their calendars online. With kids in tow, you’ll likely want to check out any children’s rides or animal exhibits and interactions. Create a generalized plan, but be flexible, especially when going with other families.

Think about safety. Fairs attract thousands of people and that can lead to confusion if children become separated from their parents. Write your mobile phone number down and put it in your child’s pocket or bag, so he or she doesn’t have to memorize it. Consider finding the tallest attraction at the fair, maybe the ferris wheel, and make that the meeting point if anyone becomes lost. Snap a photo of youngsters when you arrive so that you’ll have a recent image and know exactly what they are wearing if you need to engage law enforcement.

Time your visit. If the fair runs during the week and into the weekend, weekdays are likely to be much less crowded. Also, while not ideal, a cool day or one with a slight drizzle will cut down on crowds and improve the ability to see more things and get on more rides.

Factor in food. Fair food is an indulgence to enjoy when fairs come around. Rather than go overboard, pick one meal or item that the family will enjoy. Bring a backpack, if permitted, and fill it with bottled water and other light snacks so that you can tame hunger pangs and not bust the budget at the food court.

Understand game odds. Fair games are largely designed to earn the event money and not to cash out prizes to all participants. The chances of winning the grand prize, which may be a giant stuffed giraffe, usually are low, so it’s best if children do not become overly concerned with winning a prize. Play the games for fun and memories and not to walk away with the biggest prizes.

In addition to these suggestions, parents can make sure they bring insect repellent and  sunscreen to the fair. Dress for comfort and not fashion.

These strategies can help families make the most of the county fair this year.

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