July 26th, 2013

Frugal Fun Alert – 2013 Washington County Fair with a side of Air Show and Medieval Joy

If you are looking for a frugal way to spend your Saturday and/or Sunday this weekend I highly recommend you jump the Max and head on out to Washington County Fairgrounds to take in this years Fair.

My preschooler and I went to the opening on Thursday and I was very pleased with how family friendly the Organizers have made it this year. Do not get me wrong it’s always been a great place to visit with the kids (see the hordes of student groups), but it seems like this year they have taken extra steps to make it especially stress free for adults with small children. The result? Well we spend twice as much time as I expected and I know we did not see everything. Honestly I don’t think you can in one visit, which is ok because hey it’s open for 4 whole days and admission to 90% of the attractions are free. Yup free.

Interested? And why wouldn’t you be? Then read on for Mama’s Things to know before you go:

1.       Transportation: Take Trimet. Seriously, people why would you pay for parking when you can have a professional drive you home? All day fare is just $5 and kids under 7 are free. The 48 Route and the Max stops within easy walking distance of the Fair. Plus there is a free shuttle service betwixt the Max and the front gate. It doesn’t get much more convent than that.

2.       Venue: This site is flat and bumpy as well as notoriously hot and dusty. So take, wear and reapply your sunscreen. Wear loose sun blocking clothing and stout walking shoes. Bring a hat and shades. You and your child will need them. I saw several patrons with parasols. Smart! There will be animal droppings on the ground (particularly around the barns) so this is not a day for your white sandals. Yes, I saw folks who were surprised by this. There be cows here, people. Do the math.

3.       Hydration: Bring a water bottle (plastic only, sealed or empty, please). Better yet freeze several the night before. Pack more beverages or be prepared to buy more than you think you will drink and do drink them. As my MD put it if you are thirsty then your child certainly is.

4.       Munchies: The Fair offers all the usual yummy goodies. Pricing is spendy but not unreasonable. Portions are fair value for the money and good quality. Outside food is not allowed but there are exceptions for kids and folks with restrictions.

5.       Safety: Expect your bag, purse and stroller to be searched when you enter the grounds. The gate staff is not draconian but they are going to ask to see inside every pocket.

6.       Donate: The Oregon Food Bank along with Albertson’s is doing a community food drive. This is a very cool opportunity to help out your neighbors which very little effort. Details here.

7.       Crowds: There are several places on the grounds that are enclosed and gated so your small can run about and explore, but be aware that this venue is very busy and huge. I recommend bringing a stroller for touring areas like the animal barns and viewing performances. Other areas are perfect for a leash and harness.

8.       Time: Expect to spend at least 4 hours at the Fair. There is at that much to see and do. Take your time, don’t rush and remember this is one of those memory making moments for you and your child. Enjoy yourself. Stop and take breaks. Visit with the people in the booths. I am constantly surprised by what I learn and find but simply talking to people. I saw folks literally dragging their kids through the Fair. Where I ask you is the joy in the?

Need details? There’s the Fair FAQ and Map.

Oh and did you hear the Oregon International Air Show is running concurrent to the Fair and is just across the street? Now admittedly this is a paid event but we did see plenty of planes practicing Thursday and I imagine this weekend the sky will only be busier. What a great bonus this was for my lil’guy. Or as he put it, “Cows and planes! Oh yeah!” We went to Air Show last year and it was well worth the price of admission. So if you have room in your budget I highly recommend giving it a look. Kids under 6 are free with general admission. Not too shabby, I’d say.

Finally I’d like to take a moment to promote the up coming Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro. This is it’s first year and it will be at the Washington County Fairgrounds Saturdays, Sundays & Labor Day, August 24th - September 29th. If you are curious about this unique event, they have a pavilion at the Fair just past the Growing Grove (#33 on the map). Do stop in and check it out. Some very nice people. Oh and they are pre-selling event tickets 2 for 1 for the duration of the Fair, which is pretty darn awesome all by itself.
Have a great weekend-

Frugally yours-