Going to the Indiana State Fair has become a tradition in our family. This year when the kids and I brainstormed ideas of things to do this summer, going to the State Fair was high on the list.
So last week, after a freak storm caused the collapse of a performance stage that resulted in the death of five people and injuries to many others, we were concerned about our upcoming visit. Part of me felt guilty that I would be looking for fun at the scene of other people’s pain and suffering. It seemed wrong, in a way I can’t quite put words to. The husband and I mulled it over together (he’s much less emotional than I) and we reached the conclusion that our good time wouldn’t cause increased sadness to anyone else. Nor would our absence help anyone who lost someone feel better.
So it was off to the fair we went.
There is an art to surviving a State Fair held in the Midwest during August. Here is how my family does it.
1- First, bring your own beverages in a cooler. It’s hot and you need to stay hydrated. However, that could cause you to take out a second mortgage on your home unless you bring your own drinks.
Having an awesome plumber of a husband to pull the cooler around in a wagon (along with your last born)? That’s just a smart move and an incredible amount of luck.
2- The second important step to enjoying the State Fair is to pace yourselves. Don’t try to do it all, especially if you have offspring that is prone to whining. Which is probably all families with offspring.
You’ve got to pace yourselves and prioritize your visits. My children love seeing the animals (especially the World’s Largest Boar! and the World’s Second Largest Boar! Which I don’t have pictures of because there was such a large crowd surrounding them. I have no idea why.) But we did see many other, less grotesque animals as well.
Trying to keep the hands of an 8 year old animal lover safe and intact can be a hard job. Also, trying to convince a stubborn 4 year old that the State Fair doesn’t offer ‘sheep racing’ is another difficult task. But press on.
3- The third rule of a successful State Fair visit is simple: monitor what you eat. If more than 2/3rds of what you eat at the State Fair is fried, you will pay for it digestively. Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the HARD WAY.
And there is so much good food available. In fact, I think that’s the real reason the State Fair was created: to have an excuse to eat too much food that is not healthy for you.
4- Fourth rule, beware the Midway. Your kids can loose their minds in that bright, flashy, over-stimulated park-o-fun. And you can loose a week’s paycheck in the blink of an eye. When my oldest two kids saw this ride, aptly named “Freak Out,”
they held hands. Seriously.
This year we just looked at the rides and made plans for next year when everybody will be taller and hopefully richer. Next year we want to get each child an armband for approximately 24 billion dollars, which will let us go on unlimited rides.
Watching all the bright mayhem, the 8 year old made some pretty ambitious plans of her own for next year. Plans that involve being spun upside-down at a high velocity for several minutes. I have accordingly made plans to bring a bowl for her to vomit in and some valium for me.
5- The last advice I can give you about the State Fair, is that at some point you need to sing this song. Preferably when there are lots of people with overalls around or when you see the Fair with it’s neon lights in your rearview mirror as you drive away, happy, tired, and full.
Good-bye Indiana State Fair. See you next year.