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Safety concerns, large crowds & more: 3 things to know about this year's Dane County Fair

2019 fair runs from July 18-21

Dane County Fair kicks off Thursday
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Dane County Fair kicks off Thursday

MADISON, Wis. - Fair season is officially in full-swing across south-central Wisconsin, and it's Dane County's turn.

July 18-21, the Dane County Fair returns to the Alliant Energy Center grounds for four days of rides, food, music, shopping, and exhibits.

Here are three things to know before you go:

1. The fair is more than just fun; it seeks to educate and reach out to the local community. And after last month's shooting at Shake the Lake, security is organizers' main priority.

Fair organizers partner with the Dane Co. Sheriff's Department and Madison police to have five officers on-site, at all times, all weekend long. The fair's perimeter is also secured, so organizers know when and if people enter and leave. The family-friendly fair has a rich history dating back to 1851, when the first fair was held in Madison. Through community partners, the fair serves as a central location for different outreach groups. The American Red Cross hosts a blood drive on Thursday, while Operation Homefront provides free school supplies to military families. The fair also works with public libraries, local schools, and day cares. 

2. Each day has a theme, with special events directed at different crowds.

The fair kicks off Thursday with Hometown Hero Day. All members of the armed forces, police officers, firefighters, and first responders receive free admission for themselves and one guest. Friday is Kids Day, with special arts and crafts as well as sporting events for kids of all ages. Saturday is Farm Fresh Day, featuring a tractor parade, Farm Bureau scavenger hunt, and a kiddie tractor pull. The fair ends Sunday with Family Fiesta Day, where parents and kids can stuff their faces with tacos and jalapenos for a pair of food eating contests, in addition to attending a morning church service.

3. You can save money by buying fair and carnival tickets in advance.

New this year, fairgoers can save their cash for food vendors and exhibitors by purchasing their tickets online by credit card before arriving at the fair. For more information on how to buy tickets, click here. There's also a new North American Midway discount this year that includes an unlimited ride wristband for Saturday or Sunday from noon until close at the discount price of $22 (a savings of $5.) The offer expires Wednesday, July 17 at midnight. You can purchase your discount wristband here.

If you're going to be out-of-town this year, mark your calendar! Next year's fair is already planned for July 16-19, 2020.

For more information on the 2019 Dane County Fair, head to the event's website.

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