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As Alisa and I walked down the State Fair midway with diaper bags and strollers and babies in tow, we talked about how different life is from when we were the Deep-Fried Ambassador and Deputy.

Way different.

I have two kids now. She became a mother this spring and a first-time homeowner just this week. Life is busy and nutty and full.

But we always manage to find time for the fair. In a weird way, it’s become part of our friendship. In fact, last year’s fair visit was when she told me she was pregnant. I’ll never forget it. Or the overcooked deep-fried oreos I had to throw away (sad face).

So it made perfect sense for us to start indoctrinating the next generation of fairgoers. It’s never too early, right?

This guy mostly slept:

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And snuggled his momma:

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While this one climbed and shouted and basically ran crazy:

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And the mommas talked and laughed and kept Sophie from disappearing off into the crowd. And ate, ate, ate:

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Pictured above: the deep-fried barbecue/slaw eggroll. Yummy.

Not pictured above: the sloppy joe doughnut, because we just couldn’t do it (and the line was way too long).

A few pro tips for bringing littles to the fair:

– The UNC-TV/Marbles tent is perfect for the toddler set. You can let them loose to run around, play games and crawl through tunnels. Plus, stickers.
– We also love the grassy space in Heritage Circle. There’s live bluegrass music plus yummy cider and other apple treats nearby.
– My favorite bathrooms for diaper changes are the ones in the Expo Building. There’s also a diaper-changing station in the Kiddieland information booth, but I’ve never been in there.
– The best rides for little kids (like Sophie, age 2) are in Kiddieland. Her favorites were the carousel and the train. And she was blown away by the ferris wheel (kids her size are allowed on board with a grown-up). She also loved the Science of Ag magic show in the Kiddieland Fun Park.
– Some of the games in Kiddieland give prizes every time, like the fishing game and the balloon-popping game.
– If you walk around in that space between the Graham and Expo buildings, you might get a glimpse of a cow “taking a bath” or sheep getting sheared before show.
– Schlep your stroller to the fair, even if your little one is a walker. You’ll need all that space for food and drinks and prizes and coats, etc.
– Sophie is a very picky eater, but corn dogs do the trick every time. And most food vendors sell bottled water.

I feel like I’m forgetting something big. What would you add to the list?

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