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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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In Festival Guide

There's tons of fun for kids at Milwaukee's festivals.

Tips for festival success with kids

There are tons of festivals in the Milwaukee summer and kids are welcome at most of them. But how do you navigate the Big Gig, State Fair, the ethnic festivals and all the rest without overdoing it for yourself or your tots?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Consider the event. While the ethnic festivals and State Fair and church festivals and lots of smaller events, like the Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, for example, are great for families and kids of all ages, the Milwaukee Wine Festival might not be the best place to bring your twin kindergarteners.
  • Consider the time. Obviously, you've got to plan around your child's napping and eating and bedtime routines to ensure Junior's good to go. But also consider the festival. Do you want your kid crowd surfing at the Summerfest Rock Stage on a Saturday night? Aim for daylight hours, when the mood will be more mellow and the scene more tame.
  • Keep an eye on the clock. As with anything you do with your infant, toddler or primary school kid, don't push it. If they've got about two hours in them, don't keep them out in the hot sun, amid the crowds all day long. It'll be misery for everyone.
  • Come prepared. Bring what you need, be it diapers and wipes and a changing pad; be it bottles or sippy cups. You don't want to waste precious fun time on the hunt for overpriced substitutes for the key items.
  • Don't forget Mother Nature. Bring sunblock, a hat, bug spray, an umbrella, plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Let the kids be the boss. You've been to the fests and you'll likely go again. If you're bringing the kids, they should get to choose what to do, within reason, of course. If they want to play on the slides, don't force them to sit watching you yak it up with the other adults in the beer tent. If they want to see the puppet show, don't make them watch a local blues band. If they want to visit the dogs at Irish Fest, don't make them sit through a one-act play in Gaelic.
  • Watching them like a hawk, especially at the playground at a place like Summerfest. Don't let texting or checking in on Facebook or chatting with your friends distract you from watching your kids.
  • Have a "get lost" plan – with a little older kids, especially – a place to meet if need be.
  • Have a great time!


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