There’s a lot you can do at the Los Angeles County Fair with your wee ones, whether they’re into princesses or monster trucks. This year, the fair marks its 91st anniversary, and for the budget-conscious, there’s several $1 admission days (the mornings of the opening weekend, for example), $2 carnival rides and games and other promos to get in cheap. For the 5-and-under set, there’s also a whole slew of niche activities that will make navigating the fair easier for any parent. The 2013 Los Angeles County Fair begins Friday, Aug. 30 and runs through Sept. 29.
Kids who don’t meet the height requirement for the bigger, more intense rides can have fun at the Kiddie Carnival, where they can drive their own John Deere tractors, get a Moto X experience, quad runners and VW bugs.
Fair Fun For Readers
At the Living Library of Fun section of the fair, fictional characters will come to life. Characters from “The Hobbit,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The Wizard of Oz” will be present, and arts and crafts for kids will be available. On weekends, superheroes The Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor will assemble at the comic book section. Bonus: if your kid likes to read, he or she can earn free carnival rides at the fair. Just bring your entry form and book reports to the America’s Kids exhibit information booth during the fair and get free ride vouchers.)
If your child loves locomotives, the Railroad is the place for you. Considered the oldest (it may even be the largest!) miniature railroad of its kind in the United States, the hand-built and hand-operated train was built in 1924. It has more than 9,800 feet of track, and can run more than 30 trains at one time. Get a close look at the Pacific Electric 901, one of the wood Red Cars that once traveled to Pomona. Combo PE 1451, which was used as a Railway Post Office stopping at Pomona on its way to L.A. and San Bernardino, will be there, too. Tours will be conducted Wednesdays through Sundays from 1 to 8 p.m.
And if the train geeks want to see real trains — not miniatures — the LA County Fair is the only place in the world to see both the largest steam engine and the largest diesel locomotive ever to ride the rails. Get a closer look at Union Pacific’s 594-ton “Big Boy” 4014 steam-powered engine and the Union Pacific Centennial DD40X diesel-powered locomotive, which measures nearly 100 feet in length.
The Circus Is Coming
At Esmeralda’s Traveling Circus, the Hollywood Aerial Arts and Mango & Dango acrobats will perform crazy tricks high in the air. A Flying Trapeze School and Barnaby’s Circus School will also give you lessons if you’re interested in twirling in the air yourself. Plus, the side shows are adorable! Horses of all sizes (from giant to midget) will be on display. There will also be a real-life flea circus. Finally, kids will love the classic Piccadilly Petting Zoo, so don’t forget the hand sanitizer.
The Beneath the Sea section replicated the reef creatures in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, but it will also have a Sea Lion Splash show, sharks (in a 5,000-gallon tank) and live stingrays on display that can be fed. If you’ve never seen a real mermaid, Mermaid Melissa will talk to kids about being environmentally friendly. (That is, when she isn’t holding her breath — which she can do for five minutes!)
The only event worth paying extra money for, Monster Truck Madness will show your kids just how big and loud monster trucks really are. The trucks will be tearing it up on the Grandstand, spinning and jumping through dirt on Sept. 27.
Lilledeshan Bose @lillitot lives in Fullerton, a city she’s heard described as “The Paris of Orange County.”