Fair mascot Casey the Cardinal is back and he’s got lots of tips for fairgoers. Read below to find out how to make the most out of the N.C. State Fair if you are a parent with young children in tow.
Stroller-drivers, we see you. We know that families love to come to the fair together. And that many of these families have children in the preschool and elementary-age range. If you fit this description then this advice is for you. Here are seven tips for enjoying the fair with young children.
Last year I missed out on meeting a lot of my young fans because I was all over the fairgrounds. This year, fairgoers will know where to find me daily during meet and greets at Casey’s Clubhouse in Kiddieland. Check your daily program for times and come on out and visit me, get your photo made and pick up a baseball card or mask. Join me for Casey’s Big Slide each day in Kiddieland too. Kids who slide with Casey get a ribbon to commemorate their experience. Slide with Casey at 4 p.m. on Preview Day, Thursday, Oct. 13, and then daily at 1 p.m. for the rest of the fair.
- Grab a daily program and map out some kid-friendly shows. Check out the Circle C Racing Pigs, International All-Star Circus Dogs, Cutest Show on Earth or dozens more. All shows are free with fair admission. Casey’s Tip: Grab some food to share and get to the show early. This means you get great seats and the food gives everyone something to do while you wait.
- Have a little daredevil in your group? Kiddieland is designed for small riders. Rides usually require between 2 and 4 tickets. Games in Kiddieland are also more geared for young fairgoers.
- Get a little “agri”-culture. Stop by the Exposition Center and visit the giant pumpkins and other horticultural crops. Be sure to show the kids the decorated pumpkins and apples. Finally visit the State Fair Ark located at the back of the Exposition Center and get a lesson in cow breeds and let your little ones try their hand at milking a cow at the N.C. State Milking booth. Casey’s Tip: The giant pumpkins are one of the top photo op areas at the fair. Go ahead and make it a tradition and get their photo. Cause your pumpkins won’t be so little one day.
- Kids can make connections between the food they eat and the crops that grow at Field of Dreams. Stroll through for different themed gardens: Subs and Spuds, The Gobble Garden, Pizza Patch and Taco Town. Kids complete the Field of Dreams activity sheet and receive a prize at the end. Guy Gilchrist, a cartonist that has worked on the Muppets comic strip, Loony Toons, Tom & Jerry and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, will also be at the Field of Dreams exhibit telling and illustrating interactive stories.
- Competitions and blue ribbon winners are the heart of the fair. Let your kids try their hand at cookie decorating or, our new competition, sugar cube building. Both events are for kids ages 4 and up. Competition times and ages are in the daily program. Participation is limited so be sure to come early to register.
- My friend Smokey Bear hangs out in the forestry exhibit area near Gate 8. If you came to the fair in the 1980s as young child, and now are bringing children of your own, you’ll want to take them to visit the talking 25-foot tall Smokey. Your kids will be amazed when he seems to already know their names! What makes this Smokey cool is he is the only one like him in the country. Casey’s Tip: Take a stroll through the Forestry Exhibit area and Flower Show after you visit Smokey. You will be surprised at all the kid-friendly activities including a hopscotch path. It just might become your family’s favorite area at the fair.
The Fair starts Thursday, Oct. 13. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, children and strollers are welcome.