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8 Things You Forgot About County Fairs

Tis the season to wander the midway, rock the rides, and eat something on a stick. A rite of passage of summer is a trip to the county fair. In Calgary, our fair is one of the best in the world, in fact we call it The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.

The Calgary Stampede is one of the best rodeos in the world wrapped around a huge street party stuffed with the same sort of carnie attractions you’d find anywhere across North America.

Every year my family goes—for one day. Yes, the Calgary Stampede lasts 10 days, but we do just one on the fairgrounds. Each year we get excited and fill our heads with expectations of a day building fond childhood memories for our kids only to have the first meltdown before we’ve even found a parking spot.

The day is rarely smooth, but we did it again this year, and we will do it again next year. We remember how awesome it is to experience and forget how expensive it is to live through.

As you get ready for the traveling band of merrymakers for your annual carnival this summer, here’s 8 things you forget to remember before you head to the fairgrounds each year.

  • Remember This 1 of 9
    8 Things You Forgot About The County Fair

    Don't forget your wallet, your patience, or your wallet. Here's 8 things we love to hate about the annual Summer County Fair experience.

  • They’ll Sleep Through It 2 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-8.22.34-PM

    Sure, there may be fireworks at the end of the day, or a big concert you'll want to see, but you'll need to remember to budget a nap in there somewhere. Anything more than 5 hours at the fair and your kid will crash. Guaranteed.

  • Whining Without Winning 3 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-8.22.23-PM

    If they don't win, they will whine.

  • It’s Expensive 4 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-9.13.01-PM

    He's screaming because he won a minion. I'm screaming because we finally won a minion for him and his brother. $35 and 7 rounds on the water pistol game—what a bargain ;)

  • In The Moment, It’s Not As Fun As You Hope 5 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-9.15.23-PM

    You have to treat days like this as you would a prom or wedding—put too much expectation on it and it can never live up to your dreams. So go with the flow, take the tears when they come and try enjoy it for what it is.

  • Lost Kids 6 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-8.22.10-PM

    Get to know this place. You'll be visiting it.

  • Food 7 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-8.22.02-PM

    The food is awesome, but it's terrible. The only way you will find a vegetable on the fair grounds is if it's deep-friend and on a stick. Yes, everything in moderation, and a day at the fair gnawing on chocolate covered bacon, deep fried coke, and taco in a bag can be fun... just remember to heavy up on "the healthy choices" for the rest of the week.

  • It’s Still Expensive 8 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-9.15.36-PM

    Our local amusement park offers a summer pass for $40. When the fair comes to town those same rides are $40 a day. The least they could do is put sharks in the water on the little boat ride and give the kids a spook.

  • It Doesn’t Matter 9 of 9
    Screen-Shot-2013-07-06-at-9.20.54-PM

    In the end, none of this all matters. It's the experience that counts more than the cost or the frustration. You'll check your impatience at the gate when you enter, and do your best to enjoy the day. There will be ups, there will be downs, but when you look at the photos afterwards you'll remember this is what childhood memories are made of and you'll start planning to do it all again next year.

Images via Buzz Bishop. No use without permission.

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