Monday, August 30, 2010

The Great Minnesota Get-Together 2010

Hey Minnesota Mommies and Daddies!  The MN State Fair is going on right now and you need to get out there and enjoy it with your kids!  We went today, and it was very hot.  Unfortunately we didn't get to do EVERYTHING we wanted to, but did our traditional must-do's and made it home for nap time (me included).

We always (since having Sammy) start out at the "little farm hands" area, probably because we park on the north in and walk by it, and it's not usually busy in the morning.  Here our little farmer got to go through the process of planting and harvesting milk, eggs, and crops, then sell them to the grocery store, earn his "dollar," and then spend it on a treat at the end.  It was fun to see how much more he could do this year at age 2.5 compared to last year!  It's fun and all free.

 Had to take our photo in the plywood cutout at the end too!  This is one thing I love to do with the kids too.  There are so many of these things all over the fair, it's like going on a treasure hunt to find them.  I got photos of me and Sammy in probably more than a dozen of these things in previous years!

 When we found out that Choo Choo Bob's was at the fair this year, we decided we HAD to go.  We only made it just under 3 hours that day at the fair, and around 45 minutes of that was spent at Choo Choo Bob's!  We were there around 9:40 and they were not charging (normally it's $2/person), so we lucked out and got in free.  We would have paid though for that amount of entertainment with our train-crazy little boy.

 The model train inside was great, and there was a huge setup of wood tracks for the kids to play with too.  We stayed for a live show with Choo Choo Bob himself, which they have regularly throughout the day.
 Engineer Paul even stopped by and picked Toby right up out of my arms.  I have a feeling he's an experienced grampa.  ;-)  Toby liked his beard and glasses of course.

 Yup, another cardboard cutout photo-op!

In addition to Choo Choo Bob's, we did our usual traditions...ate some Sweet Martha's cookies, rode Ye Old Mill (now 97 years old!), and got our photo taken in the photo booth at the arcade.  I also got to ride the giant slide with Sammy, which was equally as fun for both of us.
(That's him in the orange shirt)  It's really not a bad deal at $2 per person.

The fair can get very expensive very fast.  I got my advance discount tickets at Cub Foods, but wish I had known that one advance ticket also works as a parking was $11 for parking at the fair this year.  Ouch!  Of course, you don't have to park there.  You can park and ride the bus for FREE!  Last time we did that we waited 45 minutes for our bus to show up though, so in the interest of time and our tight schedule today, we coughed up the 11 bucks.  It can add another whole fun adventure though if you have a little kid who loves buses like ours does.  ;-)

You can also save some money with the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book.  It's nice they list the coupons online here, so you can see if it is worth it for you.

Once you're in there is always a ton of stuff to see and do for free...climb on the tractors, see all the animal barns, and collect free pencils, stickers, buttons, etc in the Education building.  That's barely scratching the surface of course.  We were not there nearly long enough to scout out much else, but then discovering cool stuff and great deals is part of the fun too!

One way we save some money is by bringing our own water jugs.  I fill a few water bottles/jugs with ice and water, and when they run out, we re-fill them and have more ice water.  It leaves us with more cash to spend on food, rather than over priced pop and lemonade!  We even saw a family having a meal out of their cooler in the parking lot this afternoon on our way out.  One way to do it if you'd rather skip the food altogether, but then again food is a big part of the fair too!

Moms Like Me has a list of ways to enjoy the fair on a budget.

Hope you all are able to get out there and enjoy the fair, and if you're in another state, enjoy yours too!  The fair comes but once a year!

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