Fare for the Fair

It’s rainy out. Cold. Wet. Breezy. It must be Fair time. If you’re from Alaska, you know what I mean. For the rest of you reading this in the lower 48 or elsewhere, the State Fair here is a big deal. We eat, we play, we get soaked. It always rains at some point during Fair time.

Something else you can always count on at Fair time? Spending way more than you wanted to. All year, your mouth waters for a Turkey Leg or a Cream Puff. Then, when the Fair opens and you’re standing in those long lines, waiting, just waiting to get a bite of that long-awaited delicacy, you hardly bat an eye at the $12 price tag. It’s crazy. We all acknowledge it’s crazy. But, like junkies trying to get a fix, we’ll do anything for it.

It’s not just the food prices that add up, it’s all the other stuff. There are rides, games, crazy hair, face paint and bumper cars, just to name a few. So much fun. And so much cost. This year, I’m on the single mom budget. We have a house guest who comes every year to work the fair. In exchange, we get tickets and parking passes. So, I don’t have to pay to get in. I just have to pay for everything once I’m in.

I tried explaining this problem to my kids. Yeah. They’re nine, five and one. They have no concept of how much things cost. My daughter was mad the Tooth Fairy only left her a dollar. My son tried to rent a video with three shiny pennies. And the baby only wants to put them in his mouth.

“We can go to the Fair, but we can’t do the rides,” I try to warn them ahead of time.

Blank stares. “Whuh… what?” They ask, dumbfounded.

“We can’t afford to ride the rides this year guys. You just went to Bear Paw and rode the rides there. And, your Daddy just took you to the county fair in Indiana.” I explain.

“So… we can’t ride the rides?” They start to ponder this possibility.

“No, no rides. But, we can do other things!” I try to excite them.

“Ooh! Like the petting zoo?!” they ask in wonder.

“Yes!” I recall, hoping they won’t remember the pony rides directly outside of the farm exhibit.

“When are we going? Lets go tonight!” They then start rambling on about I don’t know what.

SO, my question/favor/begging of you is this: tell me what we can do at the fair for free. What things will excite my children that I won’t have to empty my pockets for? And, what route can I take where they won’t see the damned rides?

Oh, and even more fun… how much did you spend at the Fair this year? What was the worst damage it’s ever done to your pocket book? Any day after the Fair buyer’s remorse?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amy
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 06:53:44

    There’s still plenty of fun free stuff. The animals are always fun, there’s a Kid Zone building, the Austrailian animal building, the national guard booth. The SBS Lumberjack Show is fun. My kids spent a LOT of time playing with the wooden toys made by the woodworking club in one of the buildings you wouldn’t expect they’d enjoy. (Hoskins perhaps? It’s where all the quilts and crafts are) Various shows and dance groups in Pebble Corral or on Colony Stage. My kids also enjoyed going through Raven Hall (typically all sales booths) and gathering the free candy, pencils, chapsticks the vendors offer. There’s a cooking throwdown next to Borealis Plaza too, where you can sample and vote on the dishes…kids liked that. Kids liked going through the motorhomes and ATV’s too. Pack a picnic lunch and supplement it with a cream puff to make it feel like you had some special fair food. Add the $2 extra filling, and it will be big enough to feed the whole crew…for $9 you’ve had a day of it! Oh, and stop by the Lions Club Vision booth and get the free vision screening thing they offer. All 5 of us did it, and both the older kids failed. Off to the optometrist next, I guess! Have fun!


  2. Pattie
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:46:01

    This weekend will be our first Alaska State Fair…so I’m glad to know there are some free things!


  3. Mary
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 22:06:36

    I think Amy just about covered it. Sheer’s Lumberjack Show & the Kidzone are my top two. The Petting Zoo and the Barn round out my top 4. I’d also suggest anything/anyone playing the Bluebonnet Stage. It’s covered and close to the Barn. I’m headed out to the Fairgrounds for the next 2 days..YAY…Enjoy!


  4. Cheri Gillian
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 22:38:48

    Omigosh! The green parakeets cage in the Australian Outback animals exhibit! There’s a hundred of’em in there, whirring back and forth at one time. The kids can ENTER the cage, cup their hands, and a bird or two will fly over and alight there! It’s so beautiful and exciting all at once. That exhibit also includes totally cute baby kangaroos and a Kookaburra–yes, you’ll have to sing the song. 🙂


  5. Misty
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 00:43:58

    Go to the army booth. Kept all three of my kids busy for 30 minutes crawling all over the hummers and learning about all the weapons. great photo opportunity too. best of all its free! the sweet uniforms are happy to help out and take over explanations.


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