County Fair 5th Birthday Party

We’re still celebrating 5 years of insanity here on the blog. And while you are linking up your great parties to the Party Party, I thought I should show you one of the big parties I threw last year–and then got too busy to blog about. There is a lot that I loved about this party! And a lot of people who helped me pull it off.

My daughter’s birthday is in October and a Fall Fair seemed like the perfect theme for the season, as well as one that would be fun for boys and girls since she has a boy cousin and a few friends she loves to invite. Ironically, the reason she got so excited about having this party was that she loves pigs! Ironically, due to some complications, there were no pigs of any kind at her party, but hopefully an abundance of pink and other fair animals made it all ok.

I designed the invitation to have the feel of an old-fashioned fair advertisement poster. For the purposes of the party, I decided that my daughter could be a county. It was her fair, after all. The invitation featured silhouettes of a pig and a ferris wheel, neither of which actually made it to the party–though I dearly wished they could have. Have you priced ferris wheel rentals? Even the tiny kiddie ones, were just to steep for this frugal party planner. Nevertheless, we did everything we could do to make it feel like the children really were attending a fair in the era when they might have seen Wilbur on display.

Our dear friends that let us use their amazing property for the Rapunzel (Tangled) party, and so much more, again, let us set up fairgrounds in their yard. Bruce even quickly constructed a wooden frame from which to hang the large welcome sign, since I had it in my mind that the guests needed to walk beneath a sign to signal their entrance to the fair. Another friend printed up all of the signage I designed and even laminated it, so it would be sturdy for the party. I found the lighted arrow (and the ferris wheel cupcake holder you will see later) at Kirkland’s on clearance and grabbed it to point the way to the ticket booth.

As guests arrived, we sent them to the art station to complete a masterpiece for the art exhibit since that is part of every good county fair, and because the birthday girl loves art so. To keep costs down, we got 8 1/2×11 canvas boards (from Walmart?) and cut them in four. I had my helper daughter tape the sides with electrical tape, to hide the cut edges, and to give the illusion of a frame. The paintings were displayed during the party, and before the end, I had my helper tape a paper blue ribbon to each one, so that they all were prize winners at the fair.

At the ticket booth, guests were given brown paper bags with twine handles and 10 fair tickets for the games and rides. Some of the games cost a ticket, but at some they could earn more tickets. All of the games were homemade creations, made from recycled materials and paper etc. I actually made my 11-year-old the fair manager and she and her friends managed all the games, which gave us time to get the concession stand ready for dinner.

Our DIY games included:

1- Ring Toss–IBC Root Beer bottles make great targets for rings.

2- Ladder toss–Super easy to put together. I just printed out the signs and taped them to each rung. Which ever sign the beanbag hits tells how many extra tickets the kids earn.

3- Cans. Prizes in each can. The kids get the prizes out of the can that the ball lands in.

4- Face-painting.

5- Dart game. Foam board framed with ruffled crepe paper. We put tickets inside each balloon (1, 2, or 3) and the kids got to keep the tickets from the balloon they popped.

There were also a couple of games, where the kids had to guess which cup the button was hiding under.

I considered renting a Petting Zoo, but just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money. Luckily, my friend Heidi keeps goats for their milk we could have them at the party for the kids to pet and to lend that country atmosphere. I also owe a big thanks to our friend, Bruce and to Cindy’s (Jenkins Kid Farm) husband, Tom, for wrangling the goats and bringing them to the party. Tom also provided us with the hay bales we used in the games and around the Grandstand.

So no ferris wheel, but I’m sure the kids didn’t mind at all because they got to ride the train that Bruce built and let’s us use at all of the parties.

But after all of the fun games, animals and rides, these kids were ready to hit the concession stand and we were ready for them! BSB is a master cotton candy maker! (So glad he made it back to town in time to man the concession stand).

I think the kids would have been happy with just cotton candy and popcorn for dinner, but we were hoping they would have a little more substantial of a meal, so we handed out these food tickets, and tried to check off their orders as they ate. Corndogs, fries and tatertots, cotton candy and water were available at the concession stand.

Apple cider in mason jars topped with gingham print cupcake liners and a stripey straws were waiting with some other treats at the Grandstand.

The Grandstand was the tented area where we gathered for important events like present opening and square dancing lessons. I think the lights made this area feel so special. It also served as the display area for the “prize-winning” goodies. Like the apple cider, the mini-pies–that actually did get to ride on a ferris wheel, some “pie-ous” cookies, and a fluffy pink cake that either won 5th place or was in honor of a little girl’s 5th birthday. You decide.

This cake and it’s decorations, was actually featured on the Hostess with The Mostess website last month as a favorite detail It was really easy to do, since I could make the main decorations out of paper before hand and frost the cake simply. I actually busted out the sewing machine to make that banner. I know. That rarely happens.

Keith (my printer friend) made the #5 graphic into buttons and I glued natural colored coffee filters and cupcake liners and ribbons around them until I had a huge prize ribbon for the cake and a slightly smaller one for my daughter to wear along with the adorable gingham and denim outfit my mom made for her for the occasion. She still wears that pin some days!

One of the few specific requests that my daughter had made for the party was that she have a pink pig piñata. I found a cute one on-line and ordered it in advance. As the time got closer and closer to the party I got nervous when it didn’t show up. Long story short. I didn’t get final confirmation that the pinata would not be coming until the morning of the party. I scrambled around town looking for another pig pinata–that wasn’t an angry pig–with no success. I couldn’t even find any other appropriate animals. I had to finish the rest of the preparations, so had decided to scrap the pinata idea all together. My 11-year-old couldn’t handle that thought, so at the very last minute, she and a couple of her friends, put together this sheep piñata out of a cardboard box, using crumpled packing paper as the wool and toilet paper rolls for the legs. I actually thought it turned out awfully cute, considering the circumstances, and was moved that these girls would take the initiative to do something like that for the birthday girl. I’m sure that pig piñata could not have possible been made with more love than the sheep was.

And then we bashed it apart. 🙂 And sent our guests home with candy from the piñata, and prizes from their games, their original artwork, and a candied apple that said “It was sweet of you to come.”

It was a pretty special night. I’m so thankful for everyone who pitched in to help me make it happen without breaking the bank!

Let me know if you’d like more info on any of the projects, since most everything was DIYed I could make this post twice as long by telling you how I did it all, but if you need more info, I’ll answer in the comments or do some follow-up posts.

Now go show me your parties!

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  1. augen lasern frankfurt says

    I truly love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself?

    Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own website and want to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Cheers!

  2. Wow! Love all of the details of this party! I hope your daughter had a fabulous time ( and looking at the pictures, I am sure all your guests did also!)

  3. Kendra, Kendra, Kendra, I think this is my fave party of yours so far! Can’t believe I didn’t see this post til now, but girl, ME LOVES!!!!!!! Seriously, so much detail and complete adorableness! So happy we got to be a tiny part of helping!

    • Thanks, Cindy!! You guys were so generous to go to such lengths to help me out. I still feel like I owe the cowboy some serious goodies or something. What does he like?

      So glad you liked the way it turned out!

  4. I’m so doing this for my bday but with a twist. How did u have time to do all of this?

  5. Hi! I realize this was well over a year ago, but I just found your page today through Hostess with the Mostess. I would love to make the carnival ticket cake banner for my daughter’s 2nd birthday next month. How did you print on the tickets? Did you just mess with the alignment until you got it right and run them through the printer somehow? Thanks!

    • Hi Shannon!

      I actually lucked out and found these tickets as alphabet stickers in the scrapbooking section. Who knows if they are still available. The easiest way I can think of to replicate this look is to use an alphabet stamp set and ink and stamp on individual tickets from a role. Good luck!


    Where did you get the tickets with TESSA for the cake?! love it!

    • Katherine,

      They were a set of Scrapbooking Stickers that had the entire alphabet. If you can’t find anything like that now, I would just get a roll of tickets and stamp or write the letters on them.

  7. Christina Hecht says

    I NEED these invitations!!! They are awesome! Did you use a template from somewhere?

  8. I love this party idea! Our Church is doing a Ministry Fair with this theme. Could you tell me how you cooked your corn dogs for a crowd and kept them warm?

    • Luckily I had some help and a much smaller group than you would likely have at your fair. They were heated inside the house and served shortly there after. You might look into renting a food vending machine. Other than that, maybe try a crockpot on warm until you are serving them? Let me know what you do!

  9. Shelly lucas says

    Hi so in love with your party for your baby girl! I need this invite so badly! My baby girl is turning 3 in a month & I am doing a vintage county fair theme:). I would love to have you do the same invite for me and I would love to purchase the digital file from you! Let me know if there is any way you can help me:) xoxo


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