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State fair trip tests parent’s packing skill

lovro77/Getty Images car with hatchback packed with bags
LOADED DOWN: It is amazing what you can cram into a family car headed for the Missouri State Fair. I’ve been out of practice in the baby arena for more than 25 years, but a new grandson means loads of stuff. Now, it’s time for tons of fun.
Here are a few tips to help create calm in the chaos.

I’m crouched down below the liftgate of my ivory GMC Acadia as I press the button on my key remote. As the tailgate slowly lifts, my arms jerk to both sides as I move back and forth like I’m defending the shooting lane at a basketball game.

I catch a few things that drop out and then push my whole body up against the stuff inside. I breathe a brief sigh of relief, feeling a little accomplished as nothing hits the ground, only to be interrupted by the quick question, “You got this?”

I’ve forgotten what it is like to pack a week’s worth of clothing, snacks, bottles, diapers, strollers and a pack-and-play, but this year, I am back at it. With the grandbaby in tow, we will travel to his first Missouri State Fair, and we are ready to make memories.

I admit, it is a good thing I do not have to load the stock trailer with sheep — baby steps — however, the amount of stress to make sure you have it “all” before you even leave the driveway for the state fair is overwhelming.

So, I thought I would offer a few tips that may make your prep time for that state fair simpler:

1. Make a list. The week before the state fair, create a list or two. Try one either by child, household items, food or livestock. Then as you pack the item, check it off.

2. Assign tasks. It’s a matter of divide and conquer. Require the kids to grab the livestock supplies. If you have multiple species, great. If not, well, divide those tasks down per kid. It splits the load and assigns responsibility. However, I found food was best packed by me, or our family would live on Pop-Tarts and Lunchables for the entire fair.

3. Pack outfits for days. Have kids put together their clothing by day. This should include from head to toe, and boots to bows. Don’t forget at least a couple of spare outfits for those days when that ice cream melted a little too fast, resulting in more on the shirt than in the cone.

4. Plan meals. Create a list of meals for each day and post them — either in the camper or at your show pens. This alleviates the “What are we having for dinner?” question. Also, I suggest finding a few days where you simply plug in “eat at the fair.” After all, what is the state fair without eating its food?

5. Let it go. There will inevitably be something that is forgotten. If there is one thing I could do over, it is this — let it go. Too often, I would harp or complain. It put a damper on mine and my kids’ time at the fair. Learn from your mistake — just don’t make a manure pile out of a single cow pie. Not everyone knows what is missing, nor do they care. It is highly likely you will not miss it. The time at the state fair with family and friends is about fun. Focus on that, and let everything else go.

I cannot wait to enjoy this year with my grandson at the Missouri State Fair. Granted, he might not remember it, but I will have the photos to prove it. Now, if I can just get all his state fair swag to fit back into my Acadia.

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