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Dos and Don'ts for Parents at the Fairgrounds

07/22/2011 11:00 am ET | Updated Sep 20, 2011

County Fair season is upon us which means weekends filled with cotton candy, Flying Bobs, bingo games, and farm animals. Bringing your tot to a fair is a great activity that gets you and your offspring out of the house, gives your spouse a well deserved break, and can also be completely fun...if you know what you're doing.

Here are the dos and don'ts of fair-going:

DON'T: Forget to Pack For The Trip
I know what you're thinking ,what could I possibly need to BRING to a fair, don't these places have everything? While that may be true for you, your kid has other needs. It's always good to bring a backpack with some essentials: water, sunblock, extra clothes, and snacks. But don't over stuff your backpack; you want to leave some space for all those prizes you win or other knick knacks you might accumulate (we'll get to that later).

DO: Indulge in the Food - Yes there may not be one kernel of nutritional value to funnel cake or cotton candy, but you're at a fair, you might as well live it up. If you want to go a little more healthy try a caramel apple. Of course since you've already packed a few nutritious snacks, you don't have to worry about a treat or two.

DO: Hit Up the Petting Zoo - This is a great activity that's usually free. Plus, what kid doesn't like a cow?

DON'T: Pay to Feed the Animals- Most of our barnyard friends will be just as eager to eat some grass that you rip up from nearby as those pellets you have to pay for.

DO: Partake in Some Rides - The Merry Go Round is a great starter and you can always move up from there. Many of the kiddy rides allow adults to accompany. This can be a great way for your child to have fun and build up their confidence for going on age appropriate thrills.

DON'T: Chuck Your Small Kid Into One of Those Inflatable Obstacle Courses- Some of these moon bounces-on-steroids are clearly made for older kids and many times the people supervising are lax on letting little kids in. Once your tot goes through, you're not able to directly supervise them, and this could be a scary (and potentially dangerous) situation, especially if older kids are jostling around there with them.

DO: Play Some Midway Games - Dart games, basketball games, and the rifle shooting games all have a better likelihood of success if you're looking to win something for your kid.

DON'T: Play the Sucker Games - The ring toss or milk can topple are much harder to win and can cost you big bucks.

DO: Let your Kid Play the Winner-Every-Time Games - Toddlers don't really care too much how good you are at basketball. They just want the toy, so let them play the pick the ducky up from the bathtub game, they're guaranteed to go home with a smile and a small sense of achievement.

DON'T: Overheat - We're in the dead of summer so try to go in the early hours before it gets too hot (your kid is up anyway). Make sure to hydrate and keep an eye out that your little one isn't turning into a beet.

DO: Hit Up the Arts and Crafts Tent - It's a good place to cool down. Yes, it might be boring for you, but your kid may just want to draw with crayons for a half hour. Maybe you can encourage them to draw something they've observed at the fair like a seven legged lamb or something like that.

DO: Splurge for A Memento - Expand your kid's wardrobe into the realm of tie-dye or buy a mood ring or something like that. Years from now they'll find it stuffed in a shoebox and remember how super cool you are.

DON'T: Get Caught Up in the Face Painting or Balloon Sculpting Line - If your kid is like mine, they are infinitely fascinated by the art of turning a balloon into a poodle. Waiting for a balloon sculpture can be a big time waster, not too mention tester of your kid's line waiting stamina. If there's no line, have at it, but if there's one snaking around the tent, time to employ your amazing skills of diversion, " Hey look the carousel!" Same rules apply for the face painting line.