Fall is in the air, but I’m still reminiscing about summer. My family’s end-of-summer tradition, like many Minnesota families, is the State Fair. I wasn’t much of a fair person before I moved to the Twin Cities. But my then-boyfriend-now-husband insisted we go that first month I moved here back in 2004, and I was in love. The crowds, the unusual food on a stick, the general celebratory vibe… I love it all.
We were eager to introduce the fair to our little one, but, honestly, the idea of taking a baby to the fair sounded like a terrible idea. Ladybug’s first fair was the almost-fair. You know, outside the fair where the vendors are set up on the street and people are coming in and going out of the fair. We wandered around those few blocks, bought some mini donuts, and counted that as Ladybug’s first fair experience. The next year, we brought her in the morning to all the kid-friendly stuff. Then we got our hand stamped on the way out so that we could come back sans Ladybug in the evening while she happily played at Grandma’s house.
This year we were going to take her for the whole day, so we started talking about it early. We happened to own Maisy at the Fair, so we started with that. I was disappointed, though, with the focus on “rides and treats,” things we tend to avoid at the fair. Not exactly what I was looking for in a fair book. But you work with what you have. We didn’t end up doing any rides at the fair, and our only treat was our traditional Sweet Martha’s Cookies. Mostly we looked at animals (we saw pigs being born in the Miracle of Birth barn), ate fair food (Ladybug still says this was her favorite part), and helped on the farm (the Little Farm Hands exhibit was another family favorite).
After the fair, we finally got A Fabulous Fair Alphabet from the library. I guess other parents had the same idea I did, so there was a waiting list. The book was chaotic and slightly anti-climactic (exit, yawning, zucchini). It was perfect. We especially loved looking for familiar pictures on the end pages. Of course it would take a Minnesota children’s book author to capture just what it is people love about the fair.
Maybe in a few years, we’ll check out Elisha Cooper’s Country Fair or Ted Lewin’s Fair!. They are a little text-heavy for my two-year-old, but they are great titles for older kids to get excited about the fair.
For now, we keep it simple. Here are a couple of shots of our day at the fair: