Jillene’s Blog: State Fair Survival Tips

I grew up blocks away from the county fairgrounds in my hometown. We were so close that most summer nights during the fair, if I wasn’t at them, I was falling asleep to the demolition derby and tractor pull roars. When I was in my early 20s, I worked for the county license center (aka the DMV… but that’s a story for a different day) and I was always the first to volunteer for a shift at our booth at the fair. For a couple years, I lived blocks away from the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis, where I once again got to experience what it was like to be walking-distance from the greatest days of the summer. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a county fair, a state fair, or a pop-up fair. I’m there, with a face full of corn dogs and mini donuts!

Because of my passion for them, I feel like I also have a responsibility to help those less familiar or comfortable in these uncharted waters. I know some people who purposely leave town when the fair rolls in, so I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. With my lifetime of experience as a fair-goer, I’ve learned some things along the way. With the Wisconsin State Fair coming up, now seems like a good time to get these Jillene Approved Fair Tips in your hands…

  • Wear comfortable shoes. This is by far the most important thing you can do for your well-being when you head to the fair. Just trust me and don’t wear cute shoes. You’ll regret it, quickly.
  • Do not come hungry to the fair. I repeat: do not come hungry to the fair! You know what it’s like to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, right? This is 100 times worse! Start your fair day with a normal breakfast or have a snack on the way. You are about to be overwhelmed with food choices, and you aren’t going to want to be hungry when you’re faced with decisions like that. Which leads me to our next tip…
  • Do not eat the first thing you see at the fair. (Unless, it’s the one thing you’re coming for and it’s a tradition that you find it first. In that case, you’re allowed to indulge.) Give yourself time to find what you really want to eat, because there are a lot of choices and chances are you have a budget and stomach that can only handle so much.
  • Map out your meals. The Wisconsin State Fair has a “food finder” tool on their website where you can search for individual food items and popular fair vendors. I guarantee if you don’t prepare, you’re going to be full by the time you find what you really want to try.
  • When it comes to non-food items, my tip is the complete opposite of what you read above. Let your inner “impulse buyer” go wild at the fair! There’s no room for, “I can come back and get this (insert unique item here) later.” Get it now! This is the only time of year you can justify spending an entire paycheck on a magical mop. Let it happen!
  • Invest in a fanny pack. The pack is back and you might be surprised how many people you see wearing them at the fair. They are an easy, not to mention safe, place to store your cash, ID, and keys close to your body. (An optional thing to invest in is a wagon. If you have children that have outgrown strollers, a wagon doubles as a way to haul them around and all the items you’re taking home so you don’t waste time running back to the car.)
  • Lastly, try and go to the fair more than one day/night. The State Fair and your local county fairs only happen once per summer. Enjoy them, as many days as you can!

Connect with Jillene Khan here.