The best thing about September is that it’s fair season. If you’ve never been it can be overwhelming and we’d love to share our favorite must-see spots with your family. Join us as we gather with thousands of Southern Marylanders, and all of those who wish they were, for a fantastic time at this year’s Charles County Fair!

You could spend all four days at the Charles County Fair and still not hit every attraction.  So, while I’d love to provide you with an all inclusive guide, consisting of any and all the stops you could make while at the fair; instead, I will provide the highlights for you. So, if this is your first year at the fair, these are our family’s fair favorites.

Let’s start with parking. Parking at the fair is completely free. However, fills up fast; especially in the evenings and on the weekend. One thing most people don’t know is that there is a free shuttle bus service. Not only will you save time and your sanity but you will receive a dollar off of general admission to the fair. Plus, most kids get super excited over the novelty of riding a bus. The shuttle picks up at the La Plata court house and drops off in front of the main gate. The website says shuttles run 12pm-10pm; however, my friend who operates the bus informed me it’s actually 10am-10pm.

Take advantages of the different discount days. Thursday gates are open 4pm-10pm. Friday is kid’s day and gates are open 8:30am to 9:00pm. Free admission to all school aged children. Also all rides cost only one ticket to ride from 10am-5pm. We got a pack of 25 tickets for only $20 and the kids had extra left over despite that they road all their favorites once or twice. Saturday gates are open 8:30am-9:00pm and there’s a great option to ride the rides for one price via wrist band.  General admission is $5 for ages 11 and over, free ages 10 and under and $12 for a 4 day pass.

The fairs carnival midway has plenty of rides for all ages! Three new rides have been added this year’s collection including; The Helicopter Ride, The Octopus and the Spectacular Crazy Dance. My children are ages 2 and 4 so for the toddlers and preschoolers you won’t want to miss out on the Old Fashion Carts or The Dirt Bikes. Both of my kids first sit alone ride was the jet skis because the height restriction is perfect for a wee one. Right at the south gate there is a kidway; a whole section of smaller rides for little tikes. It is the location of my sons favorite ride the Choo Choo Express Train Ride. Back at the Midway school aged kids are sure to get excited over the giant slide and Loch Ness roller coaster. The teens will enjoy the Drop Zone and classic tilt a whirl. Great family rides are the Ferris Wheel and classic carousel.

Let’s not forget to talk about one of the most import parts about the fair…the food! Indulge in the biggest, best and freshest foods by venturing down to the food court. My husband loves the fries from the first booth on the left. They taste like Thrashers board walk fries and you can get a whole bucket for just $8. Quench your thirst with fresh squeezed lemonade. There is a great lemonade stand in the food court that makes fresh lemonade and you can add flavors to make it special. Satisfy your sweet tooth with funnel cake. You can smell funnel cake from a mile away and it’s one of those foods you can’t get any other place.

Last but not least, here are a few awesome exhibits and freebies that are good to Know about:

Get a free MDCHIP package. MDCHIP is a comprehensive child identification program designed to give families a measure of protection against the ever-increasing problem of missing and abducted children. Stop by their booth for your free identification package!

Right around the corner from the stage is the Research table. Every year they have these cool Robots. The engineers enjoy playing with the kids by playing hide and seek, chase, waving or even giving kids a lollipop. Also in this section there is a giant water tank with a swimmer in full scuba gear. He will engage and play tic tac toe with the kids.

Lowes has a booth with a free build workshop. My kids have built bird houses, helicopters and even a miniature toy bowling game.

There are so many animal exhibits that are great for kids to explore different creatures big and small. One of my kids favorite places to meet the animals is at the petting zoo. Right behind the Kidway is the Petting Zoo. For $1 you can buy a small cup of food and feed the animals or even just pet them for free. Animals range from rabbits to tortoise or goats to camels.

Our favorite building to visit is at the back of the fair grounds and every year there is a model train. My kids will stay at this exhibit for hours. They love watching the trains and even talking to the experts about how they put the models together.