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How to keep your kids calm and avoid meltdowns at the Minnesota State Fair

The fair can be overstimulating for kids, so preparing ahead of time can help make it a better experience for everyone.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — For many, the Minnesota State Fair is a place where you can indulge in fried food on a stick, see baby animals at the barn and ride down a giant yellow slide.

Despite the fun activities and delicious food, it's tough to keep everyone happy, especially young kids.

Jessica Naiberg is an occupational therapist and the director of marketing and communications for Sora Pediatric Therapy. She says bringing kids to the fair can be overstimulating for them, especially after a year mostly spent at home.

Naiberg suggests bringing water, snacks and the proper carriers to the fair and creating a bucket list of activities you want to do as a great way to stay on track.

"It’s sort of like creating this nice visual schedule for them and we know that kids who have a schedule do better," Naiberg said.

She also says having kids help plan the trip is a great way to get them involved and excited for the fair.

Pick an emergency meeting spot and use the fair's identification bracelet system to help your family get ready for a safe fair trip.

In addition, it's helpful to lead by example.

"Your kids are watching how you are handling these experiences," Naiberg said. "It gives you an opportunity to show your child that you can roll with the punches and be okay."

What happens if your child has already entered meltdown mode? 

Here are some things Naiberg suggests:

  • Find a cool, air-conditioned building
  • Offer up a distraction like blowing bubbles or chewing gum, anything to help regulate their breathing
  • Remain flexible

So even if your day ends in a meltdown, give yourself grace and remember you are making memories.

"My biggest recommendation, I guess, is to have fun, this is a fun thing. It's always good to be prepared and know the risks but go into it anticipating fun and joy and building a family tradition," Naiberg said.