Lessons Learned At The Fair

Written by Debbie Riek, Education Coordinator | Aug 5, 2010 4:35 PM

If you and your child are interested in animals, the fair is for you! There are contests you can enter if you have animals. You have to train them and wash them and sometimes even sheer them! You can win prizes like ribbons – like first, second, and third place.

100_3194If you don’t have animals and you still want to learn about them, you can check out all the different exhibits and animals and look at the different breeds of animals. That means all the different kinds of animals. It is even free! At the Lebanon Fair we saw rabbits, roosters, chickens, geese, peacocks, pigs, cows and ducks. There was even a place to see where baby chicks were being born. Some had already hatched and some were just waiting.

If you have never seen a cow before this would be a great experience because you would get to see something you have never seen before which would make you think of things a little differently.

There are shows there that are really fun to see. There are acrobat shows and shows about animals.

Going to the fair is really, really fun. The fair is also about having fun with your family. If you are a kid, this can be a great experience for you.

100_3200Every year, my family and I go to the York Fair. I grew up in Pittsburgh and this experience was just not available to me as a child. I am always amazed at the richness of these events and how nicely they highlight the beauty, ingenuity, and creativity of our state. The York Fair was where my daughter Maddie, who is 5, truly realized her love of animals and signed up for 4H. It was where Olivia got to pet a lamb when she was two. It was where Grace watched expectantly as baby chicks emerged from their eggs, wobbly and wet. I love the fair!

The fair to me is about rich experience. If you have a farming background, the fair is about celebrating your story. If you don’t, like my children, the fair is about hearing and learning the story. Olivia is right when she says seeing things you have never seen before makes you think about things a little differently. For children, these experiences widen their thoughts, help them organize their ideas, and help them make sense of the world around them. I remember hearing a family at the fair one year try to convince their four year old that the cow they were looking at was a real cow, even though it wasn’t in a book jumping over the moon.

So…what can children learn at the fair? And how can you capitalize on these experiences as an adult who cares about them?

  • Go to your local fair! It really can be an economical evening out for your family. Try to find evenings or days when fees are reduced. At the Lebanon Fair, parking was free and everyone got in free on the week day we attended until 4:00 PM. Other fairs feature discounts on certain days.

  • When you arrive, go to the Fair information booth and see if they have an entertainment schedule and any events for kids. At the Lebanon Fair, they had a really fun scavenger hunt for children that Olivia enjoyed. She collected stamps from different areas in the fair and turned her completed form in for a Hershey Bar! If there isn’t a scavenger hunt provided by the fair you visit, make one on a piece of paper to seek out a cow, a rabbit, a pig, a rooster, etc.

  • If your children are old enough, the fair is a great place to practice budgeting. Give your children a set amount of money. Olivia was in charge of figuring out good choices for lunch, paying for the items and collecting change. This can be helpful to try to limit extra purchases. Sometimes, we will give the girls a set amount of money for an event like the fair. They can spend it or they can keep it. Their decisions can be much more thought out when it is their money.

  • Visit any 4H booth. This is such a valuable youth driven organization. Their booths are typically rich in experience and educational value. At the York Fair, we always visit the 4H petting zoo to be able to hold kittens or bunnies. Very fun.

  • Take a camera. Olivia really enjoyed taking pictures of all of the animals. We printed them, glued them to card stock and made a book of her experiences. Older children like Olivia can write captions to their photographs.

  • Ask questions. Typically, the owners of animals are around and willing to discuss their animals. Olivia had a good conversation with the owner of a cow that was being groomed and clipped. She also asked about keeping the bunny cages clean after observing someone using a vacuum cleaner.

  • Go to an animal show. It is inspiring to children to see kids their age showing pigs and demonstrating poise and confidence. Plus, the Charlotte’s Web connection was not lost on Olivia. She made that real life connection herself.

  • Use the fair as a time to discuss the value of farming in our state. We may assume children understand how eggs get to the grocery store but this is an opportunity to show them, talk to a farmer and create a connection for them.

Ultimately, fairs really are about connecting to our community and family and valuing those connections. That is a lesson worth learning every day.

Add your comments about your experiences with children at fairs and tips for maximizing the educational value of this really fun experience!

Published in Education

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