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Navigating the MN State Fair with a child who has medical complexities

Sweet Martha’s cookies. All-you-can-drink milk. Everything to eat on a stick. Farm animals of all ages, shapes and sizes. Who doesn’t love the fair?

The great Minnesota get-together, the Minnesota State Fair, runs from late August through Labor Day, and planning to spend a day there can be daunting for any family, especially with a child who has medical needs.

Pediatric Home Service wants to ensure your day at the fair goes as smoothly as possible, so we’ve compiled a list of helpful things for a family who has a child with medical complexities to know as they venture to the fairgrounds. We want this to be a day you’ll 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:

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:

  • Wheelchair, scooter & stroller rental
  • Wheelchair recharging stations
  • Midway and Kidway ride guidance
  • Special entrances and seating for entertainment
  • ASL interpreter lineup

There is battery charging available on site and staff in the garage are able to help with simple wheelchair repairs.

Know where to find the first aid buildings

The Fair has two medical aid stations to provide first aid. These areas will also allow you to store labeled meds or formula that require refrigeration and use their space to take a child out of a chair for changing, stretching, etc.

For serious illness of injuries call the police at 651-288-4500.

  • Medical Aid West: 8 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., across from West End Market on the south side of West Dan Patch Ave. Between Randall Ave and Liggett St.
  • Medical Aid East: 8 a.m. to 9:45 p.m., inside the north end of the 4-H building on the east side of Cosgrove St.

Get an ID bracelet

Make your first stop (even before a pronto pup!) one of these locations for a free ID Bracelet (use the fairgrounds map to help you find your way):

  • Care & Assistance Center
  • 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.

Keep your skin protected

When you’re at the State Fair all day, it can be easy to forget that you’re being exposed to sun as you walk through the booths and buildings – sometimes during times of day when the sun is strongest. This year, there will be free sunscreen at the State Fair this year, available from dispensers at all 11 information booths. Keep an eye out to ensure you’re reapplying every few hours!

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.

A couple other tips we’ve received along the way

  • Steichen’s Grocery store is a convenience store near the barns that carries all sorts of things like diapers, food, batteries.
  • Children with poor immune systems shouldn’t go into the barns and all folks who go into the barn need to do good handwashing.

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? We’d love to see pictures from your fun day out and about. Share your pictures on the PHS Facebook wall and tell us your favorite part of the day, or use the hashtag #PHSKidsThrive.

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 so we can pass it along to fellow fair-goers.

Originally published: June 28, 2015

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