The LA County Fair is the largest county fair in North America with horseracing, Monster Trucks, big name concerts, rides & games, animals, crazy food and more.  Taking place from Aug 29-Sep 28, it packs a whole lot of family entertainment in one spot.  That also means it can get hot, crowded and overwhelming for little guys. Our guide helps you make the most of your family foray to the land of corn dogs and carousels.2898067772_3dd7e3e460_z

photo credit: Omar Omar via Creative Commons

When to go:
August 29th to September 28th, Wednesday to Sunday. Labor Day weekend, the fair is open on Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight and on Monday (Labor Day) from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Regular fair hours are Wednesdays noon to 10 p.m., Thursdays noon to 11 p.m., Fridays noon to midnight, Saturdays 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Insider Tip: General admission tickets are considerably cheaper on weekdays, which are also less crowded, so try to plan your visit from a  Wednesday – Friday, if possible.

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Admission & getting there:
Admission to the fair on weekdays costs $12 for adults, $8 for kids ages 6-12, $10 for seniors 60 and older, and 5 and unders are free. On weekends, ticket prices climb to $19 for adults, $12 for kids ages 6-12, and $15 for seniors. Also, be prepared to pay a parking fee. Parking  is $15, valet is $30. The LA County State Fair is located in Pomona; click here for detailed maps and directions.

Insider Tip: There are loads of promotions, so you can usually find discounted admission to the fair. If your kids happen to be night owls (and what kids aren’t) opt for the $5 ticket deal, which is $5 after 5 p.m. Wednesdays & Thursdays.  If you’re planning on attending a concert at the fair, head to the ticket kiosk on Rose Lane at 3 p.m. on concert days to try to score free, first come, first served tickets (concert ticket prices usually range from $20-$125).

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Planning your visit:
You’ll most likely want to stay for an extended amount of time, so make sure to pack sunscreen and plenty of necessary accoutrements to see your family  through a long, exciting day. If your stroller storage isn’t big enough, you’re allowed to bring a single wagon to tote items, (or kids!).   Wagons and strollers are also available for rent for $15 and $10 respectively, as are storage lockers for $1. Double strollers and wheelchairs are also available for rental.

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What to do:
Unless you plan multiple visits, it won’t be possible to see and do everything that the fair has to offer. Make a list of must-sees and priorities based on your family’s interests, and anything you have time for after that will be icing on the funnel cake! Returning kid-friendly favorites include the America’s Kids Living Library of Fun, a bigger than ever Farm section, where kids can enjoy petting and education barns, learn how to throw a lasso, watch pig races and more.  Don’t miss the Pirate Adventure with Pirates of the Sky show, the death-defying dives of Sinbad’s High Dive Show, Esmeralda’s Traveling Circus and the Wonders Under the Sea. And the rides!  From daredevils to tiny tots, there’s something for everyone.  For the under 4 footers, start at the Kiddie Carnival, with plenty of rides for the little ones.

Insider Tip: Tote a pocket-sized hand sanitizer or pack of wipes, so kids can lather up and keep germ free on the go, without having to visit a bathroom after petting farms and before eating.  Speaking of eating…

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Where to eat:
There are over 250 food and beverage booths at this year’s fair, and most of the food is a decadent departure from what you probably normally eat. Every food imaginable is either supersized, fried, put on a stick, covered in chocolate, or somehow given an over the top makeover! There is also an abundance of food trucks offering everything from crepes, gourmet Mexican food, sushi, BBQ and tacos – and even some healthy options like fruit smoothies, veggie laden salads and fresh grilled veggie flatbreads right from the farm. And of course, traditional fair fare such as cotton candy, grilled corn on the cob, funnel cake, Indian fry bread and fudge are abundant.  And keep you eye out for some newer additions – the giant Texas donut, Beer Batter Bacon, and deep fried Kool-Aid (beats us!) are all mind boggling.  They’re interesting to see, if not taste.

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Insider Tips: Bring your own water to stay hydrated, and to save money on overpriced plastic bottled water sold at the fair.

Bonus: If your little one takes a stroller snooze, pass the time by shopping ‘til you drop in five air-conditioned buildings that house 500 vendors at this year’s fair.

Most of all, bring the camera and have fun.  This is where childhood memories are made.

Online: lacountyfair.com

What are your tips for staying cool and having fun at the County Fair?

– Beth Shea

Photo credits:  LA County Fair’s facebook page, Starathena via Creative Commons, Omar Omar via Creative Commons.