Carnival rides at the fair

Carnival rides at the fair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this, the 100th year of the Kansas State Fair is happening. This year’s theme is “It never gets old!“.  For someone like me who enjoys working with both children and older adults, and who hope to never become so grown-up I forget how to have fun – this is a great theme.

There is so much to experience at a fair: carnival rides, performances, food vendors, carnival games, exhibits, marching bands… Learning opportunities are included for children and adults. The birthing center, petting zoo, lab experiments and tons of demonstrations are included in the Kansas State Fair schedule.

A fair can provide a range of sensory experiences, skills, games, memories and music. Traveling to the fair ground can be fun. But, for those who can’t or would rather not,  you can still plenty of fair time experiences you can share.

Share the movie of “State Fair”.  This Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is set at the Iowa State Fair. It will bring memories of “old” days at the fair, offer opportunities to see how fairs have changed, and offer some fun tunes to sing.

Sing “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis”.  Have fun replacing “We will dance the “Hoochie-Koochie”. I will be your “Tootsie-Wootsie.” with other fair experiences.

Listen to hurdy gurdy and calliope music which can easily be found on YouTube. Find out who has heard this music. Who knows, there may be a hurdy gurdy or calliope player in your community!

Hold a cow pie/patty throwing contest. No you don’t have to throw the REAL thing. Make a round, brown bean bag and loosely fill it with beans . See who can throw the “cow pie” the farthest.

Have carnival games. A few ideas are:

  • Ring toss onto bottles of soda pop or juice
  • Horse shoes
  • Bean bag toss
  • Bowling
  • Squirt gun race to knock an empty paper cup off a table

Display homemade items. Art work or crafts, quilts, items built by hand – celebrate the talents people have.

Pie tastings can be fun. Have various flavors and types of crust. Vote for the preferred pie.

Have a meal of fair foods: hotdogs, ice cream cones, corn on the cob, caramel apples, funnel cake.

Ask 4-H or others to share animals for a petting zoo. Can’t do live animals? Find some pictures to share and tools used in their care for older adults. For children, break out the farm books.

Read fair related books and poems. Young children might enjoy “Maisy At the Fair” by Lucy Cousins, “Berenstain Bears Ride the Thunderbolt” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, “Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival” by Michael Bond or “Spot and His Grandparents Go to the Carnival” by Eric Hill

 *Do you enjoy these fair time ideas? Then sign-up for “Bright Ideas” – a free newsletter filled with resources like this that you can share. 

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