Insider’s Guide to the Washington County Fair

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Your kids may be clueless about 4H, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy everything the Washington County Fair has to offer. Head to the Washington County Fairgrounds July 28-31 to indulge your city kids in everything farm animals, STEM and fair food related. We’ve got the inside scoop on how to make the most of your visit, including insider tips you can’t leave home without.

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Know Before You Go:
One of the Washington County Fair’s biggest draws is the free admission. Unlike other county fairs, your only cost to get in is a reasonable $7 parking fee. You can also avoid this and the backed-up traffic to get into parking area by taking the Max, which stops near the fairgrounds, and then catching a shuttle  right to the entrance gate.

Destination #1: Once inside, kick off your visit to the fair by touring the vehicles and tractors. With a plethora of farm machines and vehicles to explore, there’s sure to be a favorite for gearheads of all ages. Start your day early to avoid hot seats and metal when your kids start climbing.

Extra Fair Fun:  Sunday’s schedule boasts a Motorsports Mania Show, where the whole family can enjoy watching freestyle motocross, monster trucks, a super pull, and even an RV Demolition Derby. It’s a must-see show if you have a motor enthusiast in your family.

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Destination #2: Next, duck into the covered area and visit the animals. From cows and horses to chickens and llamas, there are farm friends that will bring a smile to any face, and you might even catch a baby animal or two. You will also have the opportunity to see all the effort that goes into our local 4-H programs and the results of the hard work being done by some very talented Washington County kid agriculturists.

Extra Fair Fun: For an extra dose of animal fun, check out The Pirate’s Parrot Show at 1:45 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6:15 p.m. each day of the fair. It’s an interactive, entertaining show hosted by the Pirate with a variety of parrots, a pirate ship display and even some parrot flight performances! Catch the show in Friendship Plaza.

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Destination #3: You’ll want to head over to Growing Grove, a wonderful section designed especially for budding farmers. There are tons of exhibits that teach the younger ones all aspects of agriculture. There are also opportunities to play games, build, and explore—there’s even a Junior Farmhand activity area where you can try out all sorts of different farm chores.

Extra Fair Fun: There is a storytime in Growing grove at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:45 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. Or kick it up a notch and check out Mother Goose’s Ag Magic show, a fun interactive comedy music show on the Growing Grove stage that’s sure to keep the kids laughing all day. Showtimes start at noon and 2pm.

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Destination #4: Have a slightly older cotton candy muncher? Make a stop at the Fun with Physics and Puzzlemania exhibit. This S.T.E.M. exhibit was designed by a teacher with 25 years of experience at OMSI, with the goal of exposing kids to the fun of S.T.E.M. through exciting games and challenges. Shhh, don’t tell your little engineers, but they will be learning while having a blast!

Extra Fair Fun: Kids of all ages may also want to take in Powerhouse, a group of percussive dance performers who mix tap, clogging, and stomp into a super-charged dance extravaganza. Shows are at 1 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m.

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Destination #5: After a couple of hours full of fair fun, your little adventurers are sure to get hungry. Since outside food and drinks (besides a bottle of water) are prohibited, have to hit the concession stands. From the typical fair food of corn dogs, corn on the cob and elephant ears to pan-fried noodles and Bob’s Burger Express, there will be something for everyone. And a trip to the fair isn’t complete without cotton candy, soft serve ice cream cones or shaved ice, fortunately, there are plenty of stands offering these treats.

Extra Fair Fun: There’s an awesome hand washing station in Growing Grove. Be sure to check it out before you head out for food.There are also small food demonstrations in the Grove that include making things such as pancakes, which can tide over your little ones until you find just the right food stand.

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Destination #6: The Carnival opens at noon. For the littlest fair goers, you’ll have to skip the rides and explore the games only. The minimum height for any ride is 36″. There are a limited number of rides for small ones, some of which require an adult to ride along if they are under 48″. If your little daredevil hits four feet tall, they can ride any ride in the zone.

Extra Fair Fun: Ride tickets are $1 each, with a slight discount for buying in bulk, and rides require 3-5 tickets each ride/person. If your family likes to spend their afternoon spinning in the teacups, you can get an unlimited ride wristband on the fair website for $25 if you purchase by midnight on July 27th. Wristbands purchased at the fair are $30 each.

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Washington County Fair
When: July 28-31, 10 a.m.-midnight
Tickets: Free Admission, $7/vehicle for parking

Washington County Fairgrounds
873 NE 34th Ave

What’s the thing you and your family look forward to the most each year at the County Fair? Tell us below!

— Stacy Coplin (photos, too!)