I HAVE FOUR MORE STATE FAIR TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY! So if that is the only reason you clicked on this post, then by all means skip straight down to the bottom for details. Then come back to the top and at least skim anyway because I’m going to ask you to leave a comment and your comment DOES have to be relevant if you want to win…
I’ll admit it: my son is my favorite of my two children.
That is, when my daughter’s not smoking up the swim lanes or slogging through a big-girl chapter book or otherwise being awesome. Well, I also love her when she’s just being. But whatever, even she has favorites.
A Boy, A Barn, and a Budget
I picked up my boy early from preschool so we could get an early start on date night, bedtime being at 8pm or as close as we could manage. We had to stop by the ATM first, because unfortunately the free tickets the marketing guy gave me in return for blogging about the California State Fair did not include parking, food, rides, concert passes, horse racing, or any of the other hundreds of things you can spend your money on. Geez. Never having been to the State Fair before, I wasn’t sure how much money we’d need to experience the Big Fun that is promised. I figured if I burned through $50 in three hours it would still be cheaper than dating my husband, who drinks beer and can’t babysit for free if I’m out with him. I hit the Fast Cash option for $60 and challenged myself to go home with $10 still in my wallet.
Guess what I spent? $60.
Here’s how that went down:
Children under 4 get free admission to the fair. And my ticket was free, courtesy the marketing guy. Parking is $10. We scored a covered space in Parking Lot B not too far from the entrance.
We went immediately to the monorail to get a big-picture view of the possibilities. Cost: $4 for everyone over 4 years old. Cash only, no tickets or wristbands.
Yes, cash only. No tickets or wristbands–that was a theme of the evening. I knew Robin was probably too short to ride any of the rides I would like, so I didn’t bother buying unlimited ride wristbands (these are $30 by the way), but I did think some tickets would come in handy for the slide and possibly the games. Maybe we’d splurge on the harness-assisted trampoline jumper that allows you to go really high and do flips–this one is approved for people as small as 20 pounds!
Yeah, no. The Turbo Jump is seven bucks, no tickets or wristbands accepted.
Ride tickets: 1 for $1, I bought 20. Price per ticket goes down if you buy 25 or more. Most rides–those that accept tickets, anyway, grumble grumble–are 3-5 tickets. Except on Tuesdays when they are all $1.
On our way to the giant slide a game hawker mock-whined, “Aw, c’mon Mom, let him play a game!”
Right on cue my son says: “Aw, c’mon Mom, can I play?”
An Evening of Yes
I had decided that this would mostly be an evening of Yes. Yes until the money runs out. Yes unless we’d otherwise miss something The Boy deems a priority. At age 3, one can lose sight of priorities pretty easily.
Game: $3 per play (some are up to $5 per play). We picked a game with no other competitors so one of us was sure to win. No tickets or wristbands accepted.
Giant slide: $2 per person, no tickets or wristbands accepted. Also there is a 42″ height limit but no one stopped my 40″ son, who was bound and determined.
I was scared out of my wits. I even like roller coasters and flip-upside-down rides but the giant slide is just all kinds of old school dangerous.
After the giant slide I had to find shade. Robin announced he was out of energy and needed to eat so he could be “in of energy” again. We found shade, misting fans, and food at the Promenade Stage area, where a country band was playing. I bought Robin a pizza slice and a Sometimes Beverage because he was such a brave boy.
Robin’s dinner: $6.50
While I waited for the shaking in my hands and legs to stop, I weighed my options for grown-up food. How was it possible that I had exhausted my budgeted $50? I considered a burger, gyro, fish taco, fried shrimp and chips, corn dog, giant turkey leg, tri tip sandwich, ribs…
…then remembered I had promised ice cream as well. It was A Priority. So, a maple bacon sundae sufficed for my dinner. Robin didn’t eat much of it since he was back in of energy again. He played air piano along with the band.
On to the barn! Robin was whining for more rides at this point, but I wanted to educate him about what some would say is the main point of the state fair–the animals. To get to the Cavalcade of Horses we first wandered through an area (a nice shady area, I might add) called Jewels of the Jungle, where a science teacher from Robin’s school was reportedly showing snakes. We didn’t see the teacher but we did pause to see snakes, iguanas, and a tarantula behind glass. Ho hum. Where were the gorillas, Robin wanted to know.
After a minor flap at the bathrooms, outside of which I apprehended some bratty boys spitting over a railing at people in the wine garden, it was on to the horse barn, finally.
At this point Robin was entering his loopy zone. I wanna do this I wanna do that! Kid, we need to do something free. Is what it is.
The Cavalcade of Horses is great for an hour or so of free entertainment, assuming it’s not too close to your bedtime. At the top of the 7:00 hour a drill team performed, about a dozen teen girls who filed in on their horses and did various combinations of riding in line, splitting into two lines and zipping back together again, on whistle commands.
Then was the carousel of breeds, which sounds more interesting than it is. First up, the Morgan horse. The Morgan horse is 14-15 hands high and descends from blah de blah de blah. Actually I would have loved to see all the breeds and learn about them but RIDES.
I steered us toward the kiddie rides by way of the livestock barn. This is something I would like to have researched beforehand so I could say more intelligent things besides, look Robin it’s a goat! And…there’s another goat! These things over here? They’re cows.
Some of the kiddie rides came from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. But you know what’s even more interesting about these? You can use tickets for them. All of them! Robin went on most everything by himself but we rode together on this boat that goes side to side, then twists around while swinging so it feels like you are going up and down a big wave. The price for that particular minute of fun–4 tickets each, which equals EIGHT DOLLARS.
Rides are what The Boy wanted to do and it was a rare Evening of Yes. Coming on Dollar Ride Night would have been smarter but whaddya gonna do? Go again Tuesday, is what.
How to Win Tickets
I have a pack of four tickets to give away. Giveaway date is Sunday, July 21. I will do a random drawing. This gives you one whole week, plus the final weekend, to go to the fair.
To win, please do at least ONE of the following:
1. Post a picture and brief story to the Memories page of the California State Fair website. Then come back to my site and comment on this post. You can say, “Posted a pic!” or “Did it!” or something of the kind. In addition to winning my four tickets, you could have your photo used in a billboard or TV ad for the fair.
2. Answer any of these questions:
What is your favorite ride at the fair and is it cash-only?
What is your favorite fair food and what is your justification for buying it?
Which of your children or pets is your favorite?
What should I see next time I go to the fair, if I bring Other Child (though I’m seriously considering going by myself just to chill in the wine garden)?
3. Follow my blog and post “followed” or something similar in the comments section. You can follow in one of these ways: Use the Subscribe button to sign up for emails whenever I post something new (spam-free). Or follow using your WordPress account. Or follow me on Twitter @TootSweetSu, where I tweet my posts.