Are you concerned about gas prices this summer and thinking about all the things you won't be able to do? Fortunately for those on a tight budget the Warren County Farmers' Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival offers affordable family fun for an entire day. This is one event where you can get a lot of mileage out of your admission price of between $4 and $6 per person.
After parking your car (for free) and paying your admission of $6 or less, you can start your trip around the fairgrounds. Be sure to grab a Roadmap/ Schedule of Events at the gate.
The Fair traditionally kicks off with the Open Horse Show. Throughout the week there are a few main arena events that are free of charge. Lawnmower races on Sunday, ATV Mud Bog on Saturday and the Hay Bale Rolling Contest on Thursday are free to fairgoers. On Sunday also be sure to catch 'Dirt Track Heroes' – racecars, memorabilia and racing stories from the days of dirt tracks in New Jersey, presented by the Harmony Speedway Historical Society.
The Fair is most magical for small children and youth. If you are a member of the 4-H or FFA (Future Farmers of America) the Fair is a place where you can show off projects you worked on throughout the year. The Fair also gives these youth an opportunity to hone their communication skills. On your trip around the Fairgrounds don't miss the following stops – the 4-H and FFA buildings – to check out the incredible work these students deliver! When you are done in the FFA building check out the animal barns that are to the left of the building.
Beyond the FFA and livestock buildings is the Horse Ring. Each day you may watch a different horse show, from Western and English competitions to a dressage and even a jousting demo.
If you have real little ones you will want to begin to work your way to the south end of the fairgrounds. The Zerbini Circus will move in on Sunday and do 2 free shows daily, Monday through Saturday. The Circus is located right next to the Kids' Corral, where EVERYTHING is free of charge for children attending the Fair. There is craft making, environmental education workshops, healthy eating and snack making demonstrations, and a hand full of contests like pie eating, mini hay bale rolling and Fear Factor Veggie Style where we make your kids eat vegetables.
For those that have an appreciation for the old fashioned, on either side of the Kids' Corral and Circus area you will find the Traditional Arts Building and the Home & Garden Building. Catch demonstrations of lost arts like lace making, weaving and quilting in the Traditional Arts Building. The Home & Garden Building is full of everything from hand made crafts and fine arts to photography and bounty from people's gardens.
Refueling at the Fair
After spending a few hours at the County Fair you will most likely have to refuel. A few of the refueling stations include the Grange and Lions Club food stands. You will be surprised that you can even refuel for $6 or less. The selections include roasted corn, pulled pork, taco salads, and homemade fruit pies – about 15 flavors to chose from and a la mode if you wish.
You may also wish to support the 4-H milk booth. Proceeds from sales of ice cream, milk and other beverages go to the Warren County 4-H Teen Council's TRAIL – Teen Russian/American International Leadership – program. Through the T.R.A.I.L. program, American teens travel with 4-H staff to teach English using adventure activities during a two-week overnight summer camp. Camps are located in various locations in Russia.
After dinner you will want to head over to the Hot Air Balloon Launch field where you can enjoy the Balloon Festival, all included in your original admission! That's right, the Warren County Farmers' Fair featuring the Hot Air Balloon Festival is the ultimate twofer. You not only can enjoy the Fair and all the charm and free fun it offers, but you can also experience a bevy of hot air balloons launch from green pasture to blue sky! Weather permitting, the balloon festival mass launches each evening include up to 40 hot air balloon. Among the balloons you will see Airhead Invader, the special shape green monster hot air balloon. The balloons also compete during the week in the usual 'Hare and Hound Races,' and the unusual Bicycle Balloon Race, which is a fundraiser for a local charity.
From how far can you come on a tank of gas?
If your car gets 20 miles to the gallon and a full tank is 15 gallons, that's 300 miles. Divide by 2 and that is 150 miles each way. That means you can do two trips from New York City (about 60 miles), or two trips from Philadelphia (about 70 miles), or a trip from Atlantic City (about 130 miles), Harrisburg, PA (about 100 miles) or Dover, Delaware (about 140 miles.)
The Warren County Farmers' Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival runs from Sunday, July 31 to Saturday, August 6, 2011. Highlighted are some of the free things you can do that are included with your admission. Plan your trip accordingly to your interests. (A note: if you have never been to a balloon festival before, balloons are typically not inflated during the day, but in the evenings about 2 hours or so before sunset!) Supported in part by a grant from New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism. For information on Power Events in the Main arena, or booking a hot air balloon ride, and for a list of hours and other activities consult the websites: www.warrencountyfarmersfair.org or www.balloonfestnj.com.
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