In mid-August, the Iowa State Fairgrounds come to life, drawing in visitors of all ages. Families will find plenty to do on any of the 11 days of the festivities, but without planning, you can also end up with temper tantrums — from you and your child. I’m a seasoned Iowa State Fair visitor, both as a child and as a parent. Here are my tips for making the day more pleasant with your little ones.
What to Wear to the Iowa State Fair
August in Iowa is hot and humid, so you want to dress the whole family in cool clothes. Think light colors. Shorts and tank tops will keep your little one cool, but don’t forget the sunscreen. A hat with a big brim is a good way to keep the sun away.
What to Pack
Outside food and drinks aren’t allowed, but you can save some money by packing a reusable water bottle. Your little one can drink water for free by filling the bottles at the drinking fountains. An extra set of clothes comes in handy if your little one drops her corn dog in her lap or gets soaked at one of the water features on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Baby wipes and hand sanitizer come in handy for all the little messes.
If you have young kids, you’ll want a stroller or wagon. The fair means lots of walking, and you don’t want to carry a heavy child in the heat — especially with a stomach full of food-on-a-stick. You can also rent a stroller or wagon at the fairgrounds if you don’t want to haul your own.
Time Your Fair Visit
Is your child a morning person or a night owl? Does she get cranky in the afternoon? Your child’s regular schedule helps you plan your day at the fair. Check the Iowa State Fair schedule to find activities that match up with your child’s schedule and will keep her entertained. Balance the type of activities you do. For example, if she starts to get bored looking through the art displays, head down the hill a little to the Fun Forest where she can enjoy the playground.
The huge crowds make the Iowa State Fair make it a scary place for families with kids. Keeping your child in a stroller prevents her from wandering off and getting lost in the crowds. Explain the dangers to older kids. If you do get separated, visit the Robert G. Horner and Sheri Avis Horner Service Center in the Administration Building for paging.
Take a Break
Just because you’re spending the whole day at the fair doesn’t mean you have to go the whole time. Find a quiet spot in the shade, throw down a blanket and take a break. If you’re lucky, your little one may even fall asleep after all of the Iowa State Fair activities she’s enjoyed.
Keeping your child hydrated is also important. Fill that reusable water bottle at each water fountain you see. Regular snacks will keep her from melting down as you check out the Butter Cow or visit the livestock barns.
Family Fun at the Iowa State Fair
The Iowa State Fair has many family-friendly options. Planning ahead and pacing yourself keeps temper tantrums under control so you can leave the fairgrounds with lots of great memories.