Like most everything else, we have a tradition when it comes to the fair, and our tradition is to visit at least one fair a year. Sometimes we choose to do just the local fair that our village generally holds, or sometimes we go to one of the county fairs that take place around our area. My kids have never participated in a fair activity, but we still find joy in stopping by, being a spectator of everything the fair has to offer, eating some really unhealthy food, and letting the kids ride a few fair rides. The fair is far from the most cost-effective event we go to, which is generally why we try to only visit one day each year. With most anything we bring our boys to, preplanning is always involved to help ensure that our visit is as smooth as possible, and the fair is no exception to this.
Which Fair and Which Day?
We planned ahead that we would return to the Shelby County Fair, as we heard disappointingly through the grapevine that our local village festival was not taking place once again this year. So, with the fair location in mind, I started working on the ideal day and time to target our visit. I knew from past experience that different days of the fair are dedicated to different events, and rides do not run during all of the fairs open hours, so all that information obviously plays a role in the decision. Thankfully I was able to gather all the information I was looking for online as far as the schedule of daily events and when rides would be open. We choose to avoid the “kid day” as rides tend to be busier. I decided making the trip around the ride opening time on the “senior citizen day” would be our best bet. I confirmed the weather would be good and then once I knew it was official, I made the announcement to the kids.
Fairs are a generally busy place even on a slower day. It also has animals, tractors, and plenty of other areas that could be potentially dangerous to those like my boys who are a bit oblivious to potential risks in their surroundings. These types of places require at least one set of what I like to call “extra hands”, aka another person to help herd my kids and keep them safe. This year since we decided to visit during weekday business hours to hopefully reduce line waits for rides, my husband couldn’t go, but I hired my brother who is on summer break from school to tag along and help out.
What to do first?
I knew that once we got there, all I would hear from Damion was endless requests to ride rides. Well, basically, just his one favorite ride over and over. Damion loves the big slides. You know, the ones that you have to climb 25 steps each time and then finagle the bag with foot holes around each time just to make sure they ride down safely each and every time? Yeah, those. I knew that once we made it to that ride, it would be hard to exit the area, so I did my best to hold him off and build up to that part. I strategically made sure we arrived about 15 minutes before the rides opened so that we could stop by and look at the animals first (one of Drew’s favorite parts). Damion was obviously not a fan, but I was able to tell him that the rides were not open yet and upon looking over he could see that was true.
After allowing enough time for my two animal lovers to go through the petting zoo, it was time for the rides to open and our group to head that way. The wait to get our ride stamps was the longest, so we got the hardest wait out of the way right at the beginning. Stamps were not the best option as my boys with sensory issues proceeded to try and wipe off their stamp directly onto their nice clothes, but that was a problem I could deal with later. Past years have been fairly smooth in regards to getting them through the rides, since they all just rode the kiddy rides. This year the older two are finally at a point where they are both tall enough and interested in some of the bigger rides. They were still good sports and rode some of the small rides still with their brother, and thankfully I came prepared with helping hands so that we could split up as needed for them to try out some bigger ones.
Ending and Exiting
We let the boys end the ride portion of the visit doing their favorite ride, the slide, multiple times in a row. Thankfully lines were pretty much nonexistent during our visit for that attraction, so I was able to stay up at the top and my helper stayed at the bottom while the kids just circled back onto the ride. After many good rides down the slide, I gave them a countdown to the last time. They have gotten pretty good at understanding the last time countdown and at the end, they didn’t put up a fight when we were ready to leave. We snagged a few treats on the way out and then headed for the exit. All-in-all, another fun, albeit, somewhat exhausting trip to the fair.