We received 3 tickets and unlimited ride wristbands for the Florida State Fair in order to write this post. However, all opinions are 100% my own and were not influenced by this ticket. We have been to the fair once before in this parenting journey. It was a fair in Miami with my mother in law. I really wasn’t prepared for the experience and I think part of me was glad it was over. I just didn’t love the Miami fair. That said, I decided since it has been almost a decade it was probably time to try the fair out again. We learned a lot on this visit and I want to share some tips for your first time at the fair to help you enjoy the experience.
Tips for Your First Time at the Fair
I can only speak from our experience. Make sure to do what works best for your family.
Tips for Rides at the Fair
There are a large variety of rides at the fair. It can be a bit overwhelming to manage expectations if you aren’t prepared for the number of rides at the fair. Let me share a few tips and a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for rides.
Know your child.
Does your child handle rides well? Not all rides are created equal. There are some definite fear factor level rides at the fair. If there are sensory issues, how will the ride mesh with that? What is their fear threshold? Some of these rides are pretty scary. It’s important to know your child can handle and what will be too scary for them before you buy tickets or ride armbands. How well do they do with rides that spin? There are quite a few rides that thrive in the place of spinning. Whether they are for smaller kids or thrill rides for adults, spinning is a fair thing. If you know your kids don’t handle spinning well be prepared for this before you head to the fair. Can they handle a ride without you? There are some rides at the fair that will require your child to ride without you with them. There are also certain fun houses where your child may get away from you. (I had a worker tell my children they weren’t going together because it wasn’t her job to play to parental insecurity…) It’s important to figure out what your threshold is before heading into the fair so that you don’t have to have these conversations at the fair.
Know your budget.
Do you plan to buy a few ride tickets to give them a chance to enjoy a ride? Would it be better for your family to buy the ride wristband for unlimited rides or will you be riding less rides and be able to only pay for tickets? Take some time to look at the ride map before heading into the fair to decide what your game plan is.
Be ready for lines.
Depending on the time of day you go there will be lines. These lines can get longer depending on crowd levels and popularity of the ride.
Watch the ride before you go on it.
There was a funhouse at the fair we went to. I stood and watched it as I waited on the kids to come down. Every single child that came off the slide was rubbing their elbows. My son now has a very large bruise on his elbow. I wish I would have watched the ride at the end before sending them up there. Do yourself a favor and watch a ride to make sure there aren’t any hidden safety issues or to know if it does things that will be too much for you.
Prepare for animal-related attractions.
There will be animal related attractions and experiences at the fair. This could mean pig racing as pictured above. It could also include petting zoos, exotic animals in smaller enclosures, and the opportunity to ride animals. There are a couple of things you want to keep in mind.
- Bring cash with you if you plan to feed any of the animals. The fair we attended had food for the animals for $2-$3 per container for the animals. This may vary depending on the fair you attend.
- Some animal rides will cost anywhere from $5-$20 depending on the animal. – If your child is going to want to ride a pony or a camel or anything else the fair might have, make sure to bring cash to pay for those opportunities.
- You cannot touch all of the animals. – Prepare your children for the ability to touch animals but also prepare them for when they will not be allowed to touch them.
- Bring hand sanitizer. – If your children have the plan of touching animals, you will want to bring something to clean their hands with. Some will have hand washing stations but it can help to have you own on hand.
Prepare for livestock experiences
Groups like 4H and FFA will show their animals at the fair. This can be a great chance for your kids to get close to animals they may not always encounter. It’s also a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the animals you see.
- They might give birth. – There are pregnant animals at the fair. There is a real possibility that you will see a live birth during your time at the fair. You can learn more tips about animal births with kids here.
- They will poop, pee, sneeze, and all the other things kids will laugh at. – These are real animals in a real setting which means you may have a long conversation about jumbo cow poops or the lake of pee that comes out of a bull. Be ready for it and be ready to laugh with the kids.
- They smell like what they smell like. – The livestock will smell exactly like what it is. Don’t be surprised by this. (Coffee beans in a ziploc bag can be a great things to smell if you want to clean your sinuses out.)
- There are people with the animals that kids can ask questions to. – With all of the farm organizations and competitors there with their animals, you have people that you can talk to about animals. We loved seeing the different animals.
Prepare for fair food.
There are some very creative food options at the fair. I will share some of the things we learned in the process.
- It’s not food allergy friendly. – Be honest and prepare yourself for a food environment that is not food allergy friendly at all. Either clear the ability to bring in something friendly or plan to find a way to eat outside of the fair.
- Bring cash – Many of the vendors will require cash. Make sure to bring cash with you if you intend to eat at the fair.
- Be ready for a food adventure. – Whether you get a jumbo turkey leg, chow down on a fried pickle, or devour a mega mozzarella stick you are sure to have some fun trying out new foods at the fair.