#fairhack trifecta: Save time at the booths, be prepared and remember where you parked

Julie Blaha's 2012 state fair prep work: "As every scout knows, the key to success is 'Be prepared!'"
Prep work
Julie Blaha's 2012 state fair prep work: "As every scout knows, the key to success is 'Be prepared!'" (Photo courtesy of Julie Blaha)

Today's #fairhack is a three-parter from Julie Blaha of Ramsey, Minn.:

Hack #1: Be prepared.

Plan ahead, stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes. It's all about going in prepped and ready to go. Check out the list of events and food ahead of time, and figure out your must-sees. (If you have a smartphone, the fair's mobile app lets you highlight and save entertainment, food and merchandise spots to build an itinerary for your visit.)

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Which brings us to...

Hack #2: Bring address labels. 

Julie Blaha
Julie Blaha

One of the hallmarks of a state fair visit, beyond the food and the smells and the competitions is all the swag. A leisurely stroll through any one of the fair's many streets, buildings or squares can yield a bagful of brochures, stickers, pins, pens, luggage tags, water bottles and more bags.

In many cases, booths ask for your contact information -- name, email address, physical address, phone number -- in exchange for their goodies. Julie says she always brings sheets of address labels with her, so she can easily sign up at booths across the fairgrounds.

Voila! Signups in two seconds -- flat.

Hack #3: Take a photo of where you've parked.

Whether it's at a church offsite, in a neighborhood or at the state fairgrounds, take a picture (or two, or three) of your parking location. If you take a shuttle, remember which one by snapping a quick pic on your cell phone.

That way, Julie says, when it's time to go home and it's late and you're tuckered out from a full day of fairgoing, all you have to do is flip back to your first pictures of the day, and you're halfway home. (And if your phone isn't able to take pictures, why not send a text message to yourself with the name of your parking site, the cross-streets or the section and row?)

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What's your #fairhack?  >> Do you have your own pro tip for doing the state fair right that you’d like to share? Tell us here, or share it in a tweet, tagged #fairhack (and, if you can fit it, #mnstatefair).  We’ll be sharing them all week online, on the air and all around social media.