I love the fair! The smell of cotton candy, fried foods, and farm animals, the squeals of excitement from the rides and games, and exploring all the barns elicit a special nostalgia for me. Growing up, I showed dairy heifers in local fairs and regularly visited the Oklahoma State Fair; it was always magical and exciting. I love that I now get to enjoy the magic and fun with my kiddos and husband.
Attending the immense Oklahoma State Fair can seem like a big undertaking with little ones, but with the right preparation, you’re in for invaluable experiences and memories! Here are some helpful things I’ve learned the past few years about how to have the best experience with young kids at the Oklahoma State Fair.
1. BRING A STROLLER OR WAGON
Trust me, it’s necessary. Unless your kids are old enough to handle a lot of walking, your family probably won’t last long at the fair without one. It keeps the kiddos safe, contained, and comfortable, providing a more peaceful experience for both the kids and parents. It also comes in handy for transporting any of the goodies you get at the fair such as game prizes, freebies, art pieces, treats, etc.
My family and I are obsessed with our Evenflo wagon. Our favorite part is the trays in the middle–the perfect place to put those delicious State Fair Snacks!
If you don’t have a wagon or stroller or don’t want to transport one, you can rent them at the fair! Rentals are available just outside the SuperBarn, between Gates 1 and 2, and Gate 9 (behind the OK Expo Hall). If you’re going with this option, you’ll probably want to reserve it in advance here or by calling 262-677-2696.
2. Keep cool!
It’s usually still pretty warm in Oklahoma in September, and with all that walking it can be easy to overheat. In addition to the stroller or wagon, I recommend bringing portable fans — preferably ones that can easily clip to the stroller, like these. Stay hydrated, and don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses and hats for the whole family. When you need a break from the heat, some of the expo barns are refreshingly air-conditioned, which is lovely.
3. Buy your tickets online ahead of time at okstatefair.com.
The lines at the ticket booths can get long. If you buy your tickets online ahead of time, you can bypass the line and go straight to the entrance! This is a simple way to make the day just a bit easier.
Bonus tip: Check the website for Discount Day prices!
4. Consider ride ticket purchase options carefully.
Last year, we purchased the pricey all-inclusive ride passes, but then our kids were ready to move on to other parts of the fair after just one ride on the carousel — whoops. The rides look super exciting to the little ones, but a lot of them are geared more toward older kids, lines can be long and it is a busy area. Here you can view pictures, height limits, and ticket price costs for all the rides that will be available, so you can assess which ones will work for your family, as well as which ticket purchase options will be most cost-effective. The fair also has far more to offer than just the rides, so you won’t want to spend a bunch of money on tickets and then feel the need to spend most of your time there just to get your money’s worth.
5. Check out the schedule of events for the day you plan to attend the fair.
There is SO MUCH going on at the fair every day and there is a lot of ground to cover. It’s fun to just wander, but it can also be helpful to check the schedule of events online ahead of time so you don’t miss any of your family’s favorite things. The schedule of events can be found here.
Exploring the livestock barns is the highlight of the fair for our kids. There are cows, horses, goats, pigs, sheep, and many more animals to see! We love wandering the massive barns, hearing all the animal sounds, and savoring that glorious scent of hay and animal manure. We love getting to observe the animals’ owners prepare them for shows and seeing the animals be judged as they are led around the show ring.
When visiting the barns, just be sure to give the animals the right of way and don’t pet them unless you’ve been invited to do so. And be sure to check your shoes for animal poop before getting in the car at the end of the day.
Whatever your age or interests, there is truly something for everyone at the Oklahoma State Fair. It’s one of the highlights of the year for our family, and I hope it will be for yours as well! An abundance of further information can be found at okstatefair.com.
Sarah is a former high school English teacher, turned full-time personal assistant to tiny humans. She and her wonderful husband have a 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old-son, and baby boy due in October! They love going on all sorts of adventures as a family.