State agricultural fairs conjure up images of farm exhibits and animals, cotton candy, midway rides and games of chance. With so much to see and do, it’s a great way to spend fun family time during the summer.
It’s also an awesome opportunity to share an educational experience with your children. We depend on agriculture to provide food, clothes and other things we use every day. Turn a fair visit into a lesson about crops and animals, and how they are used. How? It’s as easy as 1-2-3: Talk to one exhibitor, ask two questions and share three things you learned/observed while at the fair. You can expand the 1-2-3 approach to several – or every – exhibit they see. Exhibitors spend a lot of time preparing their entry for the fair, so chances are most will be happy to share their knowledge with you.
Whatever your child’s age, there are plenty of activities to incorporate learning into your fair visit.
Plan a fair scavenger hunt: Give your child a small pad of paper and pen. Have them find something at the fair beginning with each letter of their name – or as many letters of the alphabet as possible.
At food exhibits, learn about and discuss texture, color, taste and smell. Make note of fruits, vegetables or other foods you’ve never tried before. At home, find a recipe that incorporates the food; have your child help measure out the ingredients to make it.
Listen to different types of music at the fair, and ask your child which music was their favorite. Did they have a favorite instrument or song, and why? Once back home, search for music online that features the favorite instrument, and talk about what the instrument sounds like.
Look at various crafts made by fair participants and talk about the colors or materials used in a project. Help your child use different adjectives to describe the creation. Try to recreate a similar craft at home. Many fairs also have opportunities for visitors to do arts and crafts, so use this experience to talk about colors, materials, etc., as well.
Talk about the animals on exhibit. Do they have fur or feathers? Horns? Hooves? What kind of food do they eat? What are their babies called? Once home, talk about what animals you saw and help your child find out more about their favorites at the library or online.
Wondering what fairs to attend? The state’s largest fair, The Great New York State Fair, is jam-packed with sights, sounds and tastes for the avid fair goer. With midway rides, concessions, exhibits and concerts, it has become New York’s largest annual event and an end-of-summer tradition for hundreds of thousands of families from all corners of the state. It’s something to experience at least once.
View a list of other fairs in the state by date (with links to individual fairs’ websites) at NYfairs.org
Over the border in Massachusetts is another huge fair, the Eastern States Exposition – best known as The Big E. For more information, visit The Big E