Indiana State Fair with Kids

Indiana State Fair with Kids can be a lot of things. It can be loud, stinky, hot, expensive, overwhelming and frustrating. We experienced each of these things yesterday so I want to share with you ways to cut down on these negative experiences.

Indiana State Fair with Kids

Indiana State Fair with Kids

Despite doing my research before we went, we still continuously ran into problems. On our way to the fair we stopped at a local CVS to get our $7 fair ticket. They haven’t sold tickets in three years. The article I read did not have a publish date so I hadn’t realized this was old information. The first problem started with waiting for an hour and a half in traffic on Bradford and 38th street. It continued by finding a side street to park on that was way too small for cars to park on both sides (but free parking). Thankfully someone with a State Fair Staff T-shirt was scalping tickets outside the ticket booth. $15/2 tickets. At the moment it was an awesome idea but looking back, I don’t think she worked for the Indiana State Fair.

Once inside the fair, we know to bypass all the food vendors on the way in because their prices were sky high. We head straight to the IN Dairy Barn where Sophie has colored a coloring sheet for payment of a kid’s meal (grilled cheese sandwich, applesauce, chocolate milk and a prize (a swirly straw). I also got a strawberry milkshake for us to all share that was delicious (that line was 30 minutes but the food was good and inexpensive). From there we headed over to the Purdue Extension building having heard they have free samples and prize winning horticulture. As it being my alma mater we always stop in to see what’s going on and I had a chance to talk to the Master Gardeners of Hamilton County about replacing our fallen tree. Also in this building were many Indiana food companies like U-Relish, Green Bean Delivery, Warrior Mix and HercuLean.

Indiana State Fair

Indiana State Fair

The Big Scare

August 12th was Hoosier Lotto day so we headed over to the Lotto Tent to redeem our free ticket (with state fair admission ticket). We did not win anything but it was memorable because I had my first ever scare of losing Sophia in a busy crowd. To paint the picture, the tram was not running because of the massive swarm of people at the State Fair. We’d walked up to the Lotto Tent to figure out how to redeem our tickets. As I was getting the ticket stubs out of the stroller pocket, my friend had asked someone how we might redeem the tickets and Sophie was gone. In a matter of 5 seconds my friend had said ‘where’s Sophie?’ I did a quick scan and she was no where around us. She then popped out from behind the trashcan we were right next to saying ‘BOO! I was hiding!’ It was heart stopping and we had a little talk about when we should play hide-and-seek.

After our loss at the Lotto Tent we headed to the back side of the fair where we spun every ‘spinny wheel’ we could find and ran through all of the misting fans. This was one of my favorite parts of the fair. Sophie got such immense joy from these simple things! We headed into the Glass Barn hearing that they had a VR pig farm and coupons for $1 off at the pork and beef tents. On that back section of the fair we also saw the Pacer booth and had fun getting up on the John Deere tractors. By now we’ve walked at least 3 miles at the State Fair. TIP: wear tennis shoes because you will walk and stand in line the majority of your time. 

I’d encouraged Sophia to ride on a fair ride in the kiddie area rather than getting her face painted ($10). She obviously chose the spinning dragons that took another half hour to wait for and made my stomach swirl for another half hour after. We stopped to get dinner around the kiddie area (an elephant ear for Sophia and my friend and a cheese burger from the rib eye tent for myself.) I would not recommend the cheese burger from that tent and I would not recommend a lemon shake up or a soda from anywhere in that area (I have been disappointed each year from any of the booths in that area.)

Indiana State Fair

Indiana State Fair

The night ended on a high note by seeing the winning hog (at 1136 lbs), the sheep in their pjs (it was cool at night and they’d just been sheered) and the super tall horses. My favorite part of the entire fair is visiting the horses. They’re so beautiful and kind. Number one on my list for next year’s visit is to see a horse event at the fair. It was about 10 o’clock when we headed out and felt uncomfortable walking back to our car. There were several police cars who had stopped people on the streets and lots of loud traffic on 38th street. We will never skip the $5 parking again.

Breakdown of Purchases:

For two adults and a child for 6 hours at the fair:

  • 2 scalped tickets: $15
  • Dairy Barn Food: $3 (with coloring sheet)
  • Salt Water Taffy: $8
  • 1 Kiddie Ride: $5
  • Elephant Ear: $6
  • Cheeseburger: $4.50 (with $1 off coupon)
  • 2 Flat Pepsi’s: $10
  • Tenderloin, fries and drink: $14

Total: $65.50

I’ve been going to the Indiana State Fair every year since I was 3 and have had fond memories of the fair every year. Our mistakes for making this year’s visit worse than the past: going on a Saturday, not getting the tickets online ahead of time, not parking in the lot, expecting too much from the expensive food vendors. Nothing is a failure when you learn from it. I hope you learn from our mistakes and enjoy the fair!

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Indiana State Fair

10 thoughts on “Indiana State Fair with Kids

    1. Looking back, we definitely saved more than we had in previous years but we’re on a tighter budget this year so it feels like SO much money! It was still a good time. 🙂

  1. Even though you had a hard time with the fair, it sounds and looks like your sweet Sophia will have amazing memories. We have a local county fair and never can walk away without spending $100 for the day if we go on the weekend. The prices are just killer.

  2. Hey girl! I just took my 2 kids to the County Fair yesterday and we spent close to $100! Even though I saved $2 on admission buy tickets online, parking free, and not eating a full meal there. My kids are so Pavlovian when they see food. All of a sudden they are hungry even though they JUST ATE LUNCH. While there, we got 2 snow cones, 2 lemonades, 3 corn dogs, and fries. Afterwards, we stopped by a McD for the potty and they each got Happy Meals. Oh well though. Memories sometimes cost a bunch to make LOL.

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