I finally got around to going to the state fair this past weekend. On the last possible day, of course. It was beautiful weather and ended up being a great day overall. But anytime it is the last day for anything, especially the last day of summer for most of the families, you can imagine the crowds.
I have not been able to go for the past three years because I was down at school already before the fair even began. Which was absolutely devastating to me because no state fair is quite like the Minnesota State Fair. Or maybe my views are slightly skewed. Have any of you gone to a state fair out of your home state and been like ‘this isn’t as good’?
But one positive thing about not going to the state fair was that I didn’t have to deal with with the deep fried bonanza that covers every street or the sheer amount of food that you eat, usually ending in sickness or pain.
We actually have deep fried butter on a stick. And if that doesn’t just send a chill up your spine I don’t know what will.
Normally I don’t see a problem with occasionally breaking from my clean lifestyle to have something on the more unhealthy side of things, but I thought some of you would like to know if it’s possible to have a clean fair going experience and still have a really fun time, even with kids.
Before this year I honestly didn’t even know that there were several of these spots at the state fair because I had only ever been focused on the next food stand we were going to.
*Since these observations and experiences are all solely based on the Minnesota State Fair they may differ from state to state, but most fairs have relatively the same kinds of things so you can adapt these ideas to fit your specific fair.
Obviously, even with a clean lifestyle, food is still a very important part of any fair going experience. Before I went, I got a list of every vendor at the fair and went through it, crossing off the ones that were solely deep fried or nightmarish for your digestive tract.
I was genuinely surprised by the number of options I still had. However, unlike the usual food choices that run right along the main street, a lot of these places are off the beaten path so don’t be afraid to really wander around.
We ended up finding loads of places that had much more healthy options than the usual fair food.
Gyros, both vegetarian and meat versions
Smoothies with fresh fruit
Roasted cinnamon almonds
Frozen cider licks
Kombucha on tap
There were tons more of these hidden gems that I had never even known were all around the fair before. It actually made for a game in itself as we ran around hunting down the different food stalls that we could try something new at.
Going off the usual path we have taken at the fair in the past actually brought me to a lot of cool little street market places.
I am not talking about the usual street vendors at fair that are selling the big fluffy hats or multi-colored lightsabers but the vendors that are selling actual useful and interesting things.
I ended up in the international market area of our fair for a really long time. All of the different art pieces and knickknacks from different cultures was so interesting. There were traditionally made Aztec blankets. Local Native American Tribes ran a booth with dried food and herb bundles. There was a stand with classic German woodworking. It was absolutely amazing and the people who ran the booth were just as interesting when I asked about how they made a specific thing or how long they had been at this fair.
Although the actual stories and history of items may be what fascinates adults, the variety of colors and toys in this area kept the kid’s attention. A lot of the vendors were even demonstrating how to play a specific game or use a toy that they were selling at the booth which really drew the kids in.
THINGS TO DO:
This is probably the hardest part to keep kid’s attention during because you are not actively doing anything but staring and walking for most of this. But believe me, when I say it gets easier and there are things that kids will love looking at and can even do.
Mainly for the adults, we wandered around the horticulture building looking at the flower displays and 4-H projects that people had made. There were the animal buildings that had cows, chickens, sheep, and pigs. My fair specifically also had an entirely new market place that allowed you to test out tons of new products, play electric pianos, get a massage, all for free.
For kids, you have to really get outside of the cramped buildings to find more things targeted for them to do, not including all of the rides in the midway. Along the streets, there were huge set ups for kids. There was a place that allowed kids to create their own farm and even ride mini tractors. Some kids were pretending to be bees in a hive and learning the process of making honey. You could also color your own little paper mask any way you want to and wear it around the fair.
All of this stuff managed to fill our entire day to the max with no time to spare. We all basically fell asleep as soon as we got home. Although what we did was a lot different than our usual routine, it was still tons of fun and didn’t leave us bored for a second. No one felt as though we had missed out or had not gotten a true fair experience even though none of our stomachs felt as though we might burst or hurl. Which for my family, who has a very strict pattern of what we have done at the fair for the past 20 years, is really saying something.
When you go to your state fair you do not have to completely change your entire plan. You can make little changes here or there. Small substitutions that keep the day a little healthier than it usually is but still allows you to have all of the fun you possibly can while at the fair.