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How to do the Arkansas State Fair with children 

Arkansas's biggest annual event is back with more to see and do than ever. Here's how to have a great time without losing your head.

click to enlarge ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

One of Arkansas's biggest and most anticipated annual attractions is back Oct. 14-23 with ten more days of rides, games, contests, fun foods, concerts and more! There is nothing like watching a child's face light up with the thrill of so many fun new things to take in. But all that excitement can overwhelm little ones—and parents trying to keep up with them. Here are a few strategies for navigating the Arkansas State Fair while keeping smiles on everyone's faces.

click to enlarge ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Have a solid game plan
Spend some serious quality time on the State Fair website and determine your family's "must do" activities. The site makes it super easy by allowing you to create an account and add events to an itinerary. This way, you can see it all laid out, which helps you zero in on the best day to go or a particular area of the fairgrounds to focus the bulk of your time in. Once there, if kids start to feel pulled in several directions at once, it'll be easier to stay on track by reminding them of those attractions they're dying to see. Want to get a leg up on planning? We've got a sampling of hot new attractions below! Note: The fairground layout has changed this year, and there will be two kids' areas. Look carefully at the map!

Don't try to fit it all into one trip
Got a long list of "must dos"? Don't sweat it. Racing from one attraction to another won't be fun for anyone. Slow down and take your time, allowing kids (and yourself) to savor the experience. A full day can be too much for small children, and checking everything off the list isn't worth it if it means cranky kiddos. If you can, spread your visit across a couple of days—discounted and free admission days mean multiple visits don't necessarily add up to multiple entry fees. And if you can only do one day, focus on things that are special to this year, like performances or new rides. We promise funnel cakes will be back next year.

Go early
This is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: The earlier you go, the smaller the crowds are. (Weekdays are less congested than weekends, too.) Yes, the bright lights are more dazzling at night, but bigger crowds can leave everyone more frazzled than dazzled. If there's something grown-ups just have to see during prime hours, consider a getting sitter and going it alone.

click to enlarge ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM
  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The fair's motto this year is "no better way to spend a day." Check out this sampling of hot new attractions and start planning your best day ever!

  • Rides! There are five new rides slated for this year, including three for bigger kids and two for young'uns: the famous Flitzer roller coaster, the Extreme, the Crazy Dance, the Puppy Roll and the Charlie ChopperNote: As of press time, these are tentative.
  • Wolves of the World This traveling wolf pack—all rescues—is sweeping the nation. A family of trainers explains their history and behavior. including one hero who saved a girl from drowning.
  • Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team You might recognize this Chicago stunt tumblers from the show America's Got Talent. Now see them in person!
  • The Moogician Who would've thought a dairy farm would prove to be such fertile ground for an aspiring magician? In addition to his moogic, families will love his moosic and cowmedy as well.
  • Food, food and more food! A few news ones to try this year include: chocolate-dipped corn dogs, chicken enchilada parfait, Jamaican sausage in a cone and sweet tea on a stick. (Let us know how that last one works out, okay?)

For more info, to create your itinerary, and to buy tickets, please visit www.arkansasstatefair.com.


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