Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our Trip to the CA State Fair: The Good, the Bad, and the Overpriced

Last week MyFolsom.com had a little contest for restaurant reviews going on their website, the prize being a pack of tickets, parking pass, ride coupons & meal coupons for 4 to the CA State Fair. So, I entered and was one of the lucky people to win.
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.
The kids liked looking at the Insect Pavilion & the Aquaculture. We learned that Sturgeon are prehistoric, can grow up to 12 ft and live over 100yrs.  There was a Farmer's Market set up, and we also saw cows, sheep, rams & horses. Shrinky seemed really interested in the horses. Jude thought that was amazing but I told him ALL girls love horses. Duh.  I'd love to take the kids riding sometime, but that's a story for another day.....

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.


  1. I agree... the State Fair is WAY overpriced, and not much of a good time. I took the girls a few years ago, and haven't been back. Too hot, too expensive, and once evening comes and it starts to cool off enough to have some enjoyment, all the gang-bangers show up.

    Maeryn B.

  2. I agree. I didn't see much difference in the pricing on the food. $8.75 for gator on a stick?? And yeah, $10 for parking is a bit much. Plus, I was disappointed in the exhibits this year. Seemed like there were a lot less and smaller in scale.

    Other tips for cheaper pricing, sign your kids up for the Poppy Pals Club. I forgot I signed my oldest up way long ago. They sent him a free child admission ticket and a form for the Read to Ride. Read two books, give a brief synopsis (or for real little ones they can draw a picture), and turn it in at the place by the bathrooms at the main entrance. You get 2 rides free. And every year, in the garden area, they do the passport thing for kids and adults. Get all the fruit/vegetable stamps around the area and turn in the passport for a piece of fruit and a cold juice pouch. My kids even asked to do it this year.

  3. Those are great tips, thanks Sheryl!

  4. Texas state fair is the same way.

  5. Okay. Seriously. How are we not friends in real life?! Same name. Same small town. Activists. Foodies (most people I encounter turn their noses to chocolate and bacon, but not you). Bloggers. Feminist mothers who care. The list goes on! I'm pretty sure I have met you once or twice, maybe mutual friends perhaps?

  6. It looks like we have a lot of mutual friends! We'll have to meet up sometime soon :)
    My youngest daughter is not quite 3, maybe she & Lucy can play together.


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