When we lived in California we were nine hours from the Sacramento, the state capital, and by extension the state fair. In the 24 years I lived there I never went. Now we live just outside of Indianapolis and somehow the proximity to the fairgrounds where the Indiana State Fair is held compels me to go.
Last year, we went on an outlandishly hot day while I was ridiculously pregnant. For reference Hank was born less than a month later. I was not impressed. Maybe I was over the heat and lugging around 50 extra pounds of bouncing baby boy (and belly) with me at every turn. Anyway, we thought we’d give it another go this year and were more happy with our overall experience. If you are planning a trip to the Indiana State Fair, there are some tips for navigating it with kids below but first this is what our 2019 fair trip looked like.
sWe ended up with an extra ticket so we decided to invite one of Harp’s very dear friends to come along. Grey also happens to be our neighbor who was a frequently flyer in the Brisher house this summer. We were happy to have him with us to give us some kid equilibrium and he’s got a way of seeing things differently that my three so it’s always fun to hear his perspective.
This year we skipped the rides all together and focused on the giant farming equipment, sweet pink piglets, literal buckets of lemonade, deluxe funnel cakes, and enjoying each other as much as possible. Oh and collecting every free pair of sunglasses the vendors had to offer.
Enjoying the Indiana State Fair with Kids
If you have teenagers, I can’t help you because my oldest is 9 (going on 19 or so she thinks) but this is a short of list of the biggest hit with our littles.
Maybe it’s because at this point in their lives, my kids are city mice but they lose their mind at the ability to sit on a ride mower. Full disclosure, I did not know if my kid was supposed to be on this stuff but the John Deere rep seemed to enjoy Indy’s full-on freakout about a massive combine and how open he was the learning about what each one did.
Ok, so…the critters are actually my favorite part. It’s no secret that one of the reasons we landed in Indiana is my lifelong dream to have my own chickens and goats and recently, alpacas. They stink, so warn the kids and don’t forget to hit the hand sanitizer on the way out but the fair is full of every kind of animals from pigs to ponies with trick dogs and the Budweiser Clydesdales in between.
Ok, after the baby goats, fair food is the reason I even put it on the summer bucket list. The kids went for footlong corn dogs because they are all bottomless pits and Guy always walks the whole fair to end up at the Indiana Beef tent for some local brisket. I take a bite of everyone’s food and this year I ended up at the Sati Babi booth for some marinated meat on a stick and a pina colada shakeup that I didn’t have to share. Treats were fancy funnel cakes of the turtle and Oreo varieties. We ate everything before I got any pictures but hopefully that’s testament enough.
The Glass Barn is a really cool building where you can learn about how soy beans are grown in Indiana and all their uses. This year it was an interactive scavenger hunt so the older kids were really into completing each step. Real farmers also do talks about their experience growing crops here which is interesting for me the listen to but I don’t know that the kids had the attention span yet to get much from it. Also, it’s air conditioned with a lot of spots to sit down so it’s where I head when a baby needs to nurse instead of sweating to death with a tiny heater pressed against me.
Indiana State Fair Basics
Each ride ticket is $1.75 and all the smallest rides were still several tickets. The least expensive one we saw was $3.50. We rode exactly zero rides this year but last year we went on a wristband day and ended up going that route. Wristbands cost $30 if purchased in advance and allowed Harper to go on any ride she met the height requirement for. We didn’t get one for Indy because he was too short to go on pretty much anything. Wristbands are only available on certain days and you can check the Indiana State Fair website for a list of dates. There are two ride areas. One features rides aimed at novice ie: young riders and another for the daredevils.
Like the wristbands, tickets can be bought in advance. At the gate tickets for are $13 but they can be purchased before the fair opens for $8 each. Kids six and under are free. Alternatively, you can buy a family pack which includes four tickets and a parking pass. There are several days throughout the fair where certain
Parking costs $8. If you feel strongly about where you park or don’t want to drive around the entire fairgrounds in traffic, you can check the parking info page to figure out which entrance gate is best. When you buy the family pack, it’ll tell you which gate you are required to enter through. Alternatively, you can park at Glendale Town Center for free. The fair provides a shuttle from the rural lot every 20 minutes during fair hours.