Events, Seasonal

Ozark Empire Fair

When summer rolls around, I’m already checking the internet for the dates of the nearest county or state fair. There’s something both weird and magical about being outside with thousands of other people who you’ve probably never met, but who live right where you do, the mingled smells of fried dough and hotdogs, and the brightest colors on the strangest rides you’ve ever seen.

We went to the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, Missouri this year, and it was all of the fair goodness that I expected. Parking is easy and marked (and $5) and the fair is only a short walk from the lot. I did see some people later being shuttled into the fair on a giant open-sided trailer, so I’m guessing that if you have to park too far away they’ll help you get to the entrance.

We bought tickets online (, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I thought it was a discounted price, but it’s the same price at the gate, plus a $3 online processing fee. So, unless you get advance (available until midnight on the first day of the fair) discounted tickets (at Casey’s General Stores, Price Cutters, Macadoodles, and PFI Western Stores) I’d just wait until the gate to purchase them next time. There are also a few days listed on the website ( when you can get discounted tickets. Kids five and under are free!

The schedule is posted online if you want to see what is happening each night (, and when the gates and midway open. There are a lot of things to do and see: 4-H livestock, lots of fair food, and quite a few free shows (sea lions, reptiles, cooking, firefighters, ax women, cowboys and tractor pulls). There’s a petting zoo, music, art and clothing, a market, live demonstrations, “life and art” exhibits and, of course, crazy-looking fair rides.

Tickets for the rides are about $3-5 each (except on Wednesdays, when the rides themselves are $1 each), so be prepared to shell out some serious cash if you have multiple kids and want them to ride some of the things. Also, there weren’t a lot of rides for the littlest ones (there’s a height restriction on many of the rides), so make sure to check your smallest kids’ heights before buying too many tickets.

The fair is bigger than it looks when you first walk in, so take time to walk around past the rides and food to see what other fun things you can see!

What You Need To Know: 

  • Here’s the website for more information:
  • Cost: parking ($5), entrance tickets (kids 5 and under are free) and ride tickets
  • Ways to make it cheaper:
    • Check the schedule for “Ticket Promotions” to get the best deals for tickets.
    • Visit on Wednesdays when rides are $1 each
    • The website has a page of “Free Fair Attractions” (there is plenty to see for free once you get in!)

Are there any other tips that you’d share when bringing kids to the fair? Comment below! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *