Posted by Sarah Mutscheller on 22nd Oct 2016
I have never done the State Fair of Texas with kids...until this year. Let me repeat that I HAVE NEVER DONE THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS WITH KIDS. Until this year, the idea of going with my kids sounded like my worst nightmare...sweating while wrangling kids in large crowds. Ummm...no thank you! But this year I decided it was time. Time to try. My youngest is about to turn 5 and my oldest is now 8. Surely I can manage this, right? Well, we did it...we went, we saw and we conquered and now I am going to share with you the ONLY way to take your kids to the state fair. (Now please note, my oldest is 8 so would these rules apply to older kids? I just don't know. You are going to have to be the judge of that, but if you have kids under the age of 8...this is for you...well, for you next year. Yourself in one year. Stick with me...you will get it in a second. So follow along:
STEP 1: SKIP SCHOOL. Yep, take those kids right out of school to go to the fair. And I don't mean use the "fair day" that the school gives you. Cause hello, everyone else with a "fair day" will be there. I am talking about picking a unsuspecting day where no one will be there with their kids because they are all law abiding citizens that take their kids to school. We chose a Tuesday. Just a random Tuesday. It was October 18th, 2016 to be exact. And guess, what? It wasn't crowded! Thank you Jesus! Now all you working mamas are thinking "But Sarah!...I work!" And this is where I am gonna have to tell you that you need to take a day off too. Or if you are super naughty, you can even call in sick. But be warned...if you call in sick you can't post that precious pic of you and Big Tex on Facebook. That WILL give you away. And when you show up at work the next day...no raving about delicious fair food. Again, dead giveaway. My partner in crime and I are working mamas and we both took a day to go.
Now here is the issue...step one can't be repeated this year. Which is why these tips are for next year, because the fair ends this Monday...so gone are all the unsuspecting, school skipping Tuesdays.
STEP 2: ROLL UP TO THE GATES RIGHT AT 10AM! Don't mess around on this one, okay? We were pulling up right at that time and we got the sweetest parking spot right by the gates. It was awesome-sauce.
STEP 3: DO ALLTHE FREE STUFF FIRST. Just head right on over to that petting zoo. Now this is the part that might get dicey if you have older kids, but I am telling you, I am closing the gap on 40 and I still love to see a giraffe. I mean, who doesn't want to feed a giraffe and pet a buffalo? (We did both of those, hello, awesome!) But I get it, your 12 year old might be suffering from the "too cool" syndrome. If so, I got nothing for you. Find another blog post.
The next free thing on your list is the cute little fake farm set up...the official name is the "Children's Health Barnyard" And admittedly, this is pretty toddler focused. But GUESS what???? Everyone gets a free snack at the end. YES! This snack is going to become crucial to your survival. You need these kiddos to hang in there until corn dog time.
Then take that snack straight over to whatever free show they have going on near the petting zoo. Last year it was a dog show. I didn't see it, but that is what I heard. This year it was some horse, rodeo thing. At one point there was a man standing on horses while they were running. He even jumped something. So, yea, get that snack and go enjoy.
All of these free things get SUPER crowded, but if you get there on a Tuesday at 10...no crowds, no problem! Do you see a theme here?
STEP 4: Bathroom break, Big Tex pic, and visit whatever the special is at the Hall of State. This year it was the Taylor Swift experience. It was fun, but my four year old kept asking when Taylor was going to get there. I had to gently explain it was just her dresses and she wasn't actually going to be showing up.
Tips for getting a great Big Tex pic: People! This is not a selfie situation. You need someone else to get this picture or you will not get all of Big Tex. You need all of him. So get your friend or a stranger to squat low and shoot up at you and whoever you are with. That is the only way you are going to succeed. Good luck.
STEP 5: Go eat. Get something fried. A fletchers corn dog is a must. Wese good here?
STEP 6: Guess what? About this time you realize it is in fact noon. Do you know what happens at noon? The RIDES OPEN! But the key to success with kids before you enter this wonderland of crap games and rides that you pray are secure is to set expectations. Explain to them that each kid gets to ride 5 rides. (Sarah, why only 5? Well, because the tickets you have to purchase for each ride cost one million dollars each and that is all you can afford. Money does not grow on a tree people.) Now it is time to tell them about the games. Crush their dreams and explain to them that if something is too good to be true, it probably is and that is how the games are at the fair. So if they want, they can choose to use their limited tickets on a game (and that means one less ride), but that the game will end in not winning anything and they will be left devastated with 6 less tickets.
Then you go ride rides. Remember how you told them they could only ride 5 rides? Well, you end up letting them ride 6 rides because apparently you are bad at math and bought more tickets then you needed and you have enough for 6 rides.
STEP 7: YOU ARE DONE! That is right. You can leave. We made a quick stop to see the trains and use the bathroom by them. But then we walked straight out as the after school crowd was making their way in. SUCKERS!!! And the best part, our amazing parking from that morning paid off as we were leaving too.
BOOM! FAIR OUT!!!
(Disclaimer and shout out: I was only able to enjoy the fair to this extent due to the knowledge that my dear friend shared with me. She is a fair expert and connoisseur who has faired it up for years WITH HER KIDS and even multiple times a season. Thank you Ginny Vietti. Thank you for being the planning extraordinaire that you are and for allowing your crazy friend Sarah tag along to reap all the benefits of your brilliance. You are a fair angel.)
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