Find all you want to know and more about Kids & Critters!
What is Kids & Critters at the Fair?
Kids & Critters is a field trip opportunity for Dallas County area 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders. The goal is to teach area youth about agriculture in Texas and to help them to understand the important connection between urban and agricultural communities. In addition to experience hands on learning during the State Fair of Texas, all schools are required to complete at least three of the provided lessons prior to their school tour. Teacher lessons can be found on the "Teacher Lesson" page. They are divided by grade level to help schools plan their lessons.
Who sponsors Kids & Critters?
The State Fair of Texas Livestock Department, Southwest Dairy Farmers, My Pets, Inc., Lone Star Ag Credit, Dallas County Farm Bureau and Texas AgriLife Extension Service joined together to develop this program.
The State Fair Livestock office provides bus parking, admission and on site support. Southwest Dairy Farmers and Sheryl McPeters, “Chairman of the Barn” for My Pets, Inc. handle presentations of fact based, age appropriate information for the kids. Texas AgriLife Extension coordinates the event and provides the on site tours. Texas Farm Bureau provides the curriculum and teacher materials to reinforce learning in the classroom.
If you are interested in helping sponsor Kids & Critters or more program like this, contact the AgriLife Extension Office.
How do I sign up?
Lead Teachers from area public and private schools register their classes to attend the Kids & Critters field trip event. If you have a child in the target audience (2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade) contact his/her teacher and ask if they have registered for Kids & Critters at the Fair. If they have not, they may contact Texas AgriLife Extension to determine if there is still space available for this year’s event. See How to Register page.
How are schools selected to attend?
Registration is on a “first come, first served” basis. A record is kept of the date and time registrations are received at the AgriLife Extension office. If you want to check on your school's registration status, go to confirm application.
We home school our children. May we take part?
If you come to the Fair during the Kids & Critters event, please join us. We’d love you to join the tour. However, we cannot provide parking and admission credentials to individual families like we do for schools.
How much does it cost?
Because of our sponsors’ generosity, Kids & Critters at the Fair is free of charge.
What actually happens once we get to the Fair?
Buses are assigned one
particular gate through which to enter.
We have specially reserved bus parking spots for our program, so the
kids never have to walk in traffic. A
guide will meet you and direct you through the turnstiles and to registration,
where you drop off your lunches while the lead teacher signs in and receives
the schedule. Then you’re off on your
You will see a live milking demonstration, and learn all about how milk goes from cow to store and your table. In conjunction with the Milking Parlor, will be a new station called Ag Magic. Students will learn the importance of farmers and how life would be without them. You will go to “Just the Facts, Jack!” where our chairman of the barn will teach your kids neat stuff about lots of farm critters. Lunch is also scheduled to take place at some point during your tour. The new and improved Crop Up focuses on plants that humans and animals eat, wear and use in their daily lives and No Horsing Around show-cases how the equine industry impacts urban life.
How long does the tour last?
Including your lunch, the
program takes about 2 and half hours. Schools that do not complete the tour, will NOT be allowed to attend the event in the future.
Is this safe for our students?
True, the Fair will be in
full operation, but we are in the livestock barns, so there is not nearly as
much foot traffic as in other parts of the fairgrounds. Even so, we recommend chaperones at a ratio
of 1 adult per 10 students. This will be strictly enforced. Please do not have extra parents attend.
At no time may a student leave the group unless accompanied by an adult. We will instruct the students how to behave around the animals, and the tour routes are laid out always with safety first in mind.
How do you handle medical considerations like allergies, asthma and students with limited mobility?
We will be in a working livestock area, with dust, hair, dander and hay, plus the varying Dallas weather; so address this ahead of time if any of your students have allergies or conditions which need to be considered in this context. Notes home to parents should be make them aware of this so they may discuss it with their physicians if they feel the need to do so. Students with asthma should have their inhalers with them. There is a well staffed first aid station on the west end of the Coliseum. For wheelchair bound students we manage them with alternate routes, so the students do not miss out. It helps to know that information ahead of time so we can make proper preparations.
How should we dress for Kids & Critters?
NO SANDALS or FLIP FLOPS! Attendees should wear sneakers, loafers or boots, but no open–toed shoes. We are in a working livestock area, which entails hay, water, dirt and … well, what can we say … poop! Otherwise, whatever is appropriate for our Dallas weather is OK. Jeans, t-shirts, shorts, or dress up like a farmer or Big Tex. Just watch the weather. Kids & Critters takes place rain or shine, hot or cold, so make appropriate clothing choices.
What about lunch?
Lunch is not provided on this field trip. We ask that you bring sack lunches and juice boxes or some such easy way to feed the kids, unless you have made arrangements to eat upon your return to campus. If you have students on assisted lunch program, contact your cafeteria manager to find out how to order lunches for those students and when the order must be placed. We do have a place to store your lunches and ice chests while you are touring. The lunch area is under cover in the auction arena next to the registration area and the “Just the Facts, Jack” presentation area.
Food at the State Fair is very expensive, and possibly out of reach for many students’ families. The cost, plus the time spent standing in line for coupons, then standing in line for food creates havoc in scheduling, so we discourage trying to buy food on the fairgrounds unless it is done after the Kids & Critters tour is finished.
Do parents driving separately from the buses still get in free?
Separate parking credentials are not issued for individuals. Exceptions are rare. Chaperones should be riding the buses with the students. If, for some reason they do not, we encourage them to carpool and share the expense of gas and parking. Admission through the turnstiles is by group letter, with the lead teacher turning in the headcount of students, teachers, and chaperons. Parents driving separately may still be admitted to the fairgrounds free of charge, so long as they enter with the group. Individual admission tickets are not issued to parents.
What if it rains?
Kids & Critters takes place regardless of the weather. NOTE: A lesson learned from the past…kitchen size garbage bags make cheap, easy ponchos for most kids. Punch 3 holes and you’re good to go!
The lunch area and all presentation areas are under cover, except at the horse presentation. There are short paths that are unprotected when we walk from one place to the next, but not far.
Can I call or e-mail any other questions I may have?
10056 Marsh Lane, Suite B-101, Dallas, TX 75229
Phone (214) 904-3051 ~ Fax (214) 904-3080
E-mail (Please note “Kids & Critters Question” in the subject line.)
County Extension Agent, 4-H & Youth Development
4-H Program Asst.