by Mandy Teerlink

The whirlwind scent of the fair tickled my six-year-old nose. We walked into a big white tent, and I saw them. The ostriches. They were huge. Their long pink necks stretched high above my head, and their fluffy bodies seemed so soft to the touch. I had never seen an ostrich before. Maybe once at the zoo, from fifty yards away, but never THIS close. I gaped at the gigantic birds, not really comprehending the magnitude of the moment until it was over.

Flash forward about sixteen years to the present day. I’m wandering around with some college friends, and this time we’re at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City. But it doesn’t feel the same. All I see is a bunch of farm animals falling asleep on the hay. Then I look more closely at a group of children huddled around a newborn calf. I remember the wonder I felt whenever I got to pet a new animal as a little girl. There was something about touching and smelling and experiencing a new environment that made it all so special.

Children need learning experiences like this in their lives. The State Fair is such an intriguing blend of rides, exhibits, and food. It can provide a great opportunity for children to learn about the world and experience new things.

Some great things to see at the fair are
• Farm animals
• Rides
• Craft exhibits
• Photography exhibits
• Science exhibits
• Booths selling all kinds of wares
• Concerts

Obviously there’s plenty to keep everyone happy. However, you need to be a little savvy in order to see everything worth seeing.

So here are some tips to make your fair experience easier:

1. Go earlier during the day, on a weekday. It’s less busy, and some of the exhibits close early.
2. Look up concerts ahead of time so you know who’s performing when. You might even get to see some bigger names.
3. Bring extra cash for food and tickets so you don’t have to pay a fee or stand in line at the fair ATMs.
4. Bring water with you, I guarantee all the walking will make you thirsty!
5. Bring hand sanitizer. Lots of dirty animals and rides!

Although the Utah State Fair finished up this last weekend, most counties in Utah hold their own fairs. Here’s a list of different fairs for the rest of the year.

Remember, the most important part of going to a fair is having fun and sharing memories!