Prepare for the Fair- How to Survive Fair Season in Comfort!

Tis the season to be showing. The kids are nervous and excited, and you’re overwhelmed. You have to remember drop off times, show times, prep times, and paperwork- all while not neglecting your other parenting duties.

Although we always look forward to fair season, it can potentially be a very stressful time! Even still, our family loves it. My kids relish the time with their friends, and enjoy all of the competitions. Through the years, we have found out that we have needed some basics to survive the fair in comfort, especially with four children! Here are some of our must have items to save our sanity.

Personal Items:

  Hand Sanitizer-

This year, a very untimely break in the water main by the fairgrounds left the fair without water for almost two days. This was of course a big problem to the food vendors, but also when it came to sanitation.

After so many handshakes, poultry feeding, stall cleaning and other equally dirty jobs, this presented a real problem. Having hand sanitizer saved my sanity, and my conscience, on several occasions.  In fact, I keep a travel bottle in my purse, and a larger bottle in the glove box of my truck for refills or an incident when lots of people need to use some.

 Bug Spray-

We may live in the “desert” but in monsoon season, we have mosquitos the size of c-17s! Not to mention the flies that inevitably come with livestock. Don’t be bugged all during the fair! There are natural and chemical options depending on your preferences too.


Although you may spend a good amount of time in the barn area, there are inevitably times when you have to venture out into the sunlight. I also suggest making sure that your sunscreen is sweat AND waterproof. You may not be planning a beach trip, but what else can you expect when a group of kids are washing heifers at the wash rack all at once?

Small Fan-

Here in New Mexico, we lucked out with temperatures this year. With no humidity, and being inside a barn for most of the fair, we hit the climate jackpot. However, I remember how utterly miserable the fairs in Florida were! Between the 100 plus degree temperatures and humidity, a fan and a mister were required to survive fair week. There are several battery operated small fans and misters that will keep you sane and cool without breaking your pocket book.

Toilet Paper– 

TP is a must have for all of our trucks. You never know when nature may call, and at least here in NM, a restroom may be hours away.

Even though most fairgrounds have facilities, that doesn’t always mean that the toiletries are always restocked. TP is one of those easily portable items that is better to have and not need, than need and not have.  Several manufactures make tube free toilet paper. This is usually cheaper, and easier to store in a vehicle or fair kit. 

Baby Wipes- 

These things aren’t just for babies anymore. Baby wipes come in handy for a variety of applications. From wiping your kid’s face to cleaning out a heifer’s ear before the show, there is no shortage of ways to use these. 


Coolers are a great way to save you money. It is easy to bring snacks, drinks, and even dinner in a cooler. For most purposes, a good quality cooler will more than suit your needs without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy name brand one.

All in all, this will help you spend so much money on food and drinks at the fair, and eat healthier during fair week.


Let’s face it, parents have their hands full on a regular day. Add in show gear, and livestock and you need all the help that you can get.

A wagon will be a lifesaver when it comes to saving trips and bringing your supplies into the show barn. Plus, you have the added benefit that kids think it is cool to ride in. For younger kids, this is a great way to keep them contained without the fuss.

Toy Kit for Kids-

Young kids can easily get bored at fairs. Often there is a lot of waiting, and preparation that they can’t be a part of yet. For our kids, we fill backpacks (hint don’t use their school backpacks. They will inevitably get dirty.) with a variety of sand and dirt approved toys. For our kids, the Schleich toys are always a hit. They go great with dirt, are tough, and washable. Since they come in a wide selection of different animals, they can build a cow town, rodeo grounds, or even a fantasy land in the dirt and shavings right by you.


Comfort Items:

 Folding Chairs- 

Easy to store, simple to use, you just can’t beat a folding chair.  Without a doubt, these chairs beat the bleachers when it comes to comfort. Another good aspect is that they do not take up much room when collapsed and also come in a variety of sizes, even for kids!

If you plan on spending a lot of time at the fair, it may be worth it to spend a bit more for a zero gravity chair. These things put recliners to shame! Your back will thank you. Now if you REALLY want to get fancy, or know you will be spending a lot of time in the sun, they also make chairs with shade covers.

Folding Cot-

Fairs are exhausting, often both mentally AND physically. There is nothing wrong with stretching out or catching a quick nap. Folding cots are also especially useful for people with young kids.


Other tips:

 Plan your meals.

I just have to admit, there is a majority of fair food that is simply just epic. We all look forward to it every year. With that said, there is only so much friend goodness that our bowels can stand before they rebel. Planning your meals in advance will not only save your pocket book, but a lot of indigestion as well.

But wait, “Ain’t nobody got time for that” this IS fair season after all!

 We know that you don’t have time to cook traditionally during the fair. During this time, we premake our breakfast, freeze them and then microwave them in the morning. My favorite recipe for this is the breakfast burrito.

When it comes to dinners, the crock pot and Instant Pot are your friends during the fair. With a crock pot, you can turn it on and forget it. The instant pot, although it does take a little more babysitting, can produce AHHHmazing meals in a tiny bit of time. Hello fall of the bone ribs in less than an hour.

 Pack ahead.

Get as much loaded and staged the night before as you can. Between running around for livestock, papers, equipment, other projects, and not forgetting your kids, you will be BUSY on drop off day! Get the papers, the equipment, the projects loaded up the night before. It will save you time and your sanity!


As important as ALL of these items are, there is one thing that you absolutely can NOT leave at home! A GOOD ATTITUDE! Fair is a fun, but stressful time for all involved. The kids are nervous, the parents are tired, the volunteers and 4-H agents are all on the brink of collapsing due to lack of sleep. It is too easy to succumb to a downright dismal attitude. Be sure to keep your spirits up, and be a help, and a light, to those around you! 

This is by no means an all inclusive list. One thing that we have also found is fairs, and thus your family’s needs, vary wildly from location to location. What are some of your “must have” items for your family’s fair survival kit?


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