Coming to the Fair with young ones in tow? A little advanced planning can help you make the most of your day. Here are some tips and not-to-be-missed activities for the elementary-aged and younger at the fair.
- Buy your tickets before the fair starts. Tickets can be purchased at Food Lion, online, the N.C. Museum of History, State Farmers Market and at Gate 9 at the Fairgrounds. It’s no fun to stand in line and purchasing in advance means designated fast-track admission at the entrance gate. Kids under six years old get into the fair free. However, with an Kiddieland area designed with young riders in mind, they will want to get on the rides. Before the fair you can purchase unlimited-ride wristbands for $25 ($10 off) or ticket sheets for $10 for 18 tickets (45 percent off). Most smaller rides take 3-6 tickets each. Try out the two new rides parents and kids can ride together – the Dumbo Elephants and the Mini Trooper.
- Take the bus to the fair. All the bus services offer free bus fare for children. Park and ride locations include Triangle Town Center and Cary Town Center. Services run from White Oak Station in Garner, Chapel Hill and Durham. Check online for details.
- Rent a stroller or wagon at the Fair at Gates 1, 8, 9 and 10. The vendor will take a deposit of collateral such as cash, driver’s license or car keys. Mobility Concepts at Gates 1 and 10 will accept reservations on their website.
- Parents can bring diaper bags, lunch bags, wagons, strollers, and other personal items to the fair. All bags are subject to search at the gate. Water bottle filling stations are available near Casey’s Clubhouse and in the grassy area in front of the Kerr Scott Building.
- Take a picture of your kids at one of the selfie stations located near Dorton Arena and across from Kiddieland. These selfie stations are pretty cool – and gives you a picture of your kids in case you get separated. Talk to your kids about asking an officer for help if they become separated from you. The gates and information booths also offer stickers to help us reunite parents and kids that get separated.
- The best things in life are free – at the fair this includes the free entertainment that comes as part of your gate admission. Kid-pleasing grounds acts include Bubble Wonders in Kiddieland, Canine Stars in the Rand Grandstand, the Fire Safety Show in Kiddieland, Kachunga & the Alligator Show, Pirates of Colombian Caribbean near Gate 11 and the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show in the N.C. Forest Service Area. Check out the daily schedule for times. On your visit, be on the look out for the friendly giant ladybugs at the Flower Garden Show, the Giant Chicken and Ostrich Rider roving near Gate 11 and Rock-it the Robot in Kiddieland.
- Make visiting the competitive exhibits fun. Screenshot or print out a scavenger hunt, Deep Fried Bingo or the State Fair Selfie Challenge to bring to the fair. Completed scavenger hunts can be turned in at the Expo Center for a State Fair Adventurer ribbon.
- Visit the Field of Dreams, the fair’s miniature farm. This year’s theme is Holidays on the Farm and with four specialty gardens, this year’s exhibit will help children make the connection between the food they see growing and the food they love to eat. Take time to grab a family picture in our photo area, which is holiday-themed too!
- Meet Big Smokey Bear. He’s located in the N.C. Forest Service area. There is no other Smokey Bear like him and, like magic, he can talk with you and your kids.
- Finally, Meet Casey Cardinal. He will be at his Clubhouse several times daily. Bring the kids (and yourself!) by for a hug and a Casey button.
For more free ways to enjoy the fair, check out this list of 100 Free Things to Do.