James took a day off work, just for a little break, and we decided to check out the Rodeo. When I was a kid in Arizona we got "Rodeo Weekend" off of school - two days at the end of February. We never actually went to the rodeo, though - we went skiing. If only that had been an option for us this year! Still, we had a fun day together.
Zack selected his own outfit and he fit right in. We alternated between a few scheduled events and the kids tent. Nothing was blow-you-away-fabulous, but it was fun. We saw the puppet show, a cow milking demonstration, the petting zoo, some of the livestock auction, some cow-herding dogs doing their contest runs and the pig races. The puppet show was just a couple of songs and a few bad jokes from a stationary puppet, but the kids liked it. We all liked the petting zoo, though we steered clear of one baby goat that was eating all the kiddies' shirts! The livestock auction was a little bewildering - we don't know much about it so we had no idea why two identical-looking cows fetched three or sixteen thousand dollars. I liked the dogs herding the cows through various spaces. It was pretty entertaining, actually! Although I have to admit the pigs were pretty cute racing, it did feel a bit surreal that I was sitting in packed stands, watching four pigs run in a circle. They even succeeded in making Zack long for a plastic pig nose for the low price of only one dollar (he didn't get it). We stopped in between things to listen to a little music, but there wasn't much going on at the time. I know there were great concerts at other times. It was neat just to walk through the livestock area and look at all the animals.
The Fair part of it was kind of an exercise in parental denial. Everything, from the rides to the food, is designed to make the kids want it (well, not just the kids). Zack wanted everything from all the food-on-a-stick to the pony rides to the Ferris wheel. Everything is purchased in tokens and the tokens are one dollar. It seemed like we could spend a ridiculous amount or spend the day saying "no" twenty times in a row. We got tired of that pretty quickly so we let Zack pick one thing to do - he chose the Ferris wheel. He was so excited. He insisted he wanted to hold his tokens in line, even though we said if he lost one he'd be stuck without enough to ride (there's a scary statement for a parent to make knowing it will be miserable to follow through!) Thankfully, he kept hold of his tokens through the entire line and I went with him - what a beautiful day! He said it was just as great as he thought it would be.
Overall, I thought it was a great family activity, and with the "pick one" approach, not too expensive. Most days there is some way to get free parking or admission or both, though we paid for our parking and partial admission (James wasn't willing to wear a pink shirt just to get in free. I did my part- I don't know what his problem was!). If you are going to do a lot of the rides, it would be a full day activity, but with the little ones we weren't. That made it just right for a half day. I think we'll be back in future years!