Now, full disclosure: After our trip to the Fair in 2008, I announced that I would NEVER be returning. It was HOT. It was expensive. There was no shade. So last year, we didn't go at all. And I didn't miss anything. But since I won tickets, I decided to put on my smiley face & take the kids and have a good time.
We decided to go on a Tuesday because it's Kid's Day: Kid's under 12 get in FREE and can ride the rides for $1. We've been reading for weeks about how the State Fair lowered food prices by 25%. If you don't have a big family, you might not even notice the price reduction but when you're buying for 5 people, it adds up. So, that was appreciated. We actually bought sodas for $2.50. That was previously unheard of! Don't get me wrong, though. Food prices are still ridiculously expensive. If someone can please explain this to me, I would love to hear a reason besides "because people will pay THAT much".
The Fair opens at Noon, but rides don't open till 2pm, so if you get there early you have plenty of time to eat & walk through the buildings & see all the exhibits first. We really wanted to see the Dinosaur exhibit but the line was huge and we could see that it was pitch black inside & hear that it was also really, extremely LOUD, which is a no-go for the toddler and the Sensational one. Luckily, there were some other really cool outdoor exhibits.
We finally made our way to the kid's rides which is where we spent the rest of our afternoon. Our soon to be 8 year old is in that weird spot of being too old for a lot of the little kid rides but not old enough for the big crazy roller coasters, but he was still able to have fun. The 5 yr old, on the other hand, loved every ride. I think the kid's area was designed with his age group in mind. Then there was my poor little Shrinky. She is almost 3, but is a tiny-might. At just 35 inches tall, she was unable to go on any ride aside from the carousel & the boats, which was a bit of a bummer.
For the most part it was a fun day, but I have some things I want to say to the people in charge of the State Fair:
-The pricing is insane. $10 for parking?? $12 entrance fee for adults, $8 for kids?? $30 ride wristbands??
Drop the parking down to $5 and the entrance fees to $10. People run out of money in their first 30 mins at the Fair as it is now, why not try to keep the customers there longer by NOT gouging them at the front gate?
They'll spend more inside, I would almost guarantee it.
-There is NO SHADE. If this thing gets moved, I highly suggest somewhere with trees, where everything isn't concrete. Or transplant some trees for goodness sake! People will stay longer if they're not starting to pass out from dehydration halfway through the day.
I don't think we'll go again next year unless we win some more tickets. We'll forgo the State Fair & wait a couple weeks & drive the 30 miles to Woodland and enjoy the FREE admission & ample shade at the Yolo County Fair. It's unfortunate, but I heard this sentiment from many, many fair-goers. Wake up, Fair Board! You need to make some changes, and make them fast.