All-you-can-drink milk, $1. Scavenger hunts. Tractor rides. Watching a lamb come into the world. Everything to eat on a stick.
The great Minnesota get-together, the Minnesota State Fair, runs August 26 – September 6 this year. Planning to spend a day there can be daunting for any family, especially with a medically-fragile child who has special needs.
Yet it’s also a day you’ll all treasure. To focus on the fun of the day, do as much as you can before you get in the gates with these preparation tips:
1. Study up on accessibility
The Fair has parking, drop-off and pick-up and other arrangements for visitors with special needs. The Fair’s accessibility guide is here, where you’ll find information on:
- Wheelchairs to rent
- Wheelchair recharging stations
- Midway and Kidway ride guidance
- Special entrances and seating for entertainment
- ASL interpreter lineup
2. Know where to find the first aid buildings
The Fair has two medical aid stations to provide first aid. For serious illness of injuries call the police at 651-642-2280.
- Medical Aid West: 8a.m. to 12:30a.m. 1834 Dan Patch Ave., across from Heritage Square
- Medical Aid East: 8a.m. to 9p.m. 1424 Cosgrove St., north side of the 4-H Building
3. Plan ahead and save
- Get discounted tickets at Cub Foods
- Check out discount days and the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book
- Consider using mass transit or carpool
- If you’ll bring oxygen, prepare with tips from this PHS blog post
- Talk with your PHS clinician for other guidance specific to your child and family
Talk with your kids about what they’d like to see and do. It’s challenging to do the entire MN State Fair in one day, so plan to focus on entertainment, exhibits and even food that most interests your kids—all under the clever guise of educating them about our great state!
5. Get an ID bracelet
Make your first stop (even before a pronto pup!) one of these locations for a free ID Bracelet:
- Care & Assistance Center
- Guest Services Office in the Visitors Plaza
- Any information booth
Your child’s bracelet will have his or her name, pertinent medical information and your contact info for the day. The information is stored inside the bracelet on the child’s arm and can only be accessed by cutting bracelet off arm, so you don’t have to worry about your child tampering with it.
6. Learn from other parents
The Education building is full of freebies from coloring pages to stickers and school supplies—plus a reusable bag to stash it all in.
This brave mom took her four kids to the MN State Fair and lived to blog about it. For instance, she found the best unisex/handicapped accessible restroom is in Eco Experience. Read all her tips.
Other moms offer advice on how to do the fair on a budget. Their tips can be found at http://twincities.momslikeme.com/members/JournalActions.aspx?g=152633&m=113301&grpcat=
7. Take photos and share the stories of your day with PHS
What’s your can’t miss stop at the MN State Fair? What works for you and your family? Do you have tips, based on your fair visits and other travels? Any places that have been especially accommodating?
We’d love to hear from you.