Its time again for the DuQuoin State Fair- a true southern Illinois tradition. Once you are a parent, going to the Fair takes on a whole new meaning (and costs!) Here are quick tips to make it a day to remember.
Plan your trip in advance. It will only take a short time and will be well worth it. Check out the "lay of the land" Know where the restrooms are.
Check out the map and keep your eye out for the Refreshment stations, places where families can sit and relax
Bring the essential you will need and keep them accessible. Backpacks are always a good idea. If you have a young one, don't skip the stroller. You will be glad you have it by the time you reach the gates. Another staple is "wet wipes", even if your kids aren't diaper age. They are great on stick fair food, you can use them to wipe spills on clothing and are especially handy to wipe of chairs and benches when you are ready for a break.
Decide on your budget before you go. Know the costs before you go. The cheapest parking is $7.00 and that is for gates 3 and 4. If you go to Gate 1, parking will cost you $12. This year, for the first time, there is an admissions cost of $2.00 per adult ( 13 and over). Ride tickets are $1,00 and most rides require more than one ticket to get on. If your kids are older, you can talk with them and give them each their own budget. One might be more interested in fair food, while the other loves the rides. Be aware of any specials and although a $22 armband for rides sounds pretty expensive before you go, you might find it the best deal if you family really loves the rides. There is a kiddieland for younger children which is great. But remember, the fair is supposed to be an agricultural event and although the rides are enticing, there is lots more to enjoy and alot of it is FREE! The Fair offers a wonderful opportunity for kids to see animals "up front and close" and this year's FREE entertainment includes Alley Cats, Butterfly Encounter, Cirque Extreme, the Emerson Petting Zoo, Gavin the Hypnotist, Magic Mike and more.. Click here to see a schedule . The 1/2 mil track hosts a rodeo, tractor pulls, demo derby and motocross. And don't forget the petting zoo.
Bring cash- not alot of vendors accept debit cards,
Bring some of your own water and emergency snacks, Fair food is great, but also expensive. Bring some of your own to help keep costs down and tummies full! Prepackaged items are best because of the heat. Granola bars and fruit snacks are always great choices. It looks like it is going to be hot, so make sure if you take something that needs to remain cool, you have it in a cooler.
Get there early. Getting there early means parking spots closer to the entrance, making it easier if you have to go back to the car for something you forgot.You will avoid longer lines at rides and events and beat the evening rush of teens and adults coming to the fair for a night out. If possible, go on a week day and avoid the big crowds altogether.
Divide and conquer. While it is important for families to have together time, if your children are of mixed ages, consider splitting off at some point so one adult can go with the older children and another with the younger. If you are a single parent, consider "teaming up" with another family or ask a friend to go. This will reduce wait times when kids tend to get impatient and crabby.
Safety. Safety, Safety. Even the best family trip can get spoiled when someone gets hurt or lost. Bring your cell phone and for your youngest children, write the number on a small piece of paper and put it in their pocket. Point out people who work at the fair and encourage them to go to one of them or a vendor if they get lost. Avoid letting children wear clothing with their name. If you are letting your older kids go off on their own, set up a time/ place to meet and check in on a regular basis.
Pace yourself. You don't have to do everything. It is okay to save some things for next year.
Know when to call it quits. A big mistake parents can make is staying too long at
the fair. It is important to remember that kids, especially younger one, don't have the same stamina as adults. The ones you see running to the gates are often in their parents arms, being carried back to the car. Before exhaustion sets in and crying, tantrums or meltdowns occur, consider calling it quits for the day. It will help end the day ( and whole fair experience) on a good note and create memories your whole family will cherish.