Fun can be cheap at the fair

Spinning around on rides and eating all the corn dogs, curly fries, barbecue and snow cones is one fun -- and certainly expensive -- way to take in the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo.

But, it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. There are lot of free activities to keep kids and their parents entertained.

Kids' Day is the perfect way for families on a budget to still get to experience all the fair has to offer. Today tickets are $2 for kids ages 6-12, a $3 savings from regular admission. It's always free for those 5 or younger.

Once inside the fairgrounds, there will be plenty of rabbits, chickens, pigs and other animals for kids to ooh and aah over.

But, the Kids' Zone is the place to go for free fun that also is educational.

Agrium, a fertilizer company in Finley, has set up an interactive booth, Seed Survivor, that gives kids and adults information about soil and how things grow.

"There's such a small amount of soil, or ground, that is still farmable. We're trying to promote how to be a good steward," said Tim Clouse, an operator at Agrium.

Inside the special trailer, kids can play video games to learn about what animals live in the watershed, photosynthesis and nutrients.

"They love pushing buttons and seeing things happen," said volunteer Wilma Andrews. "Kids seem to really love it."

Once outside, kids get to plant a sunflower in a small pot that they can take home for free.

Also in the Kids' Zone is the Pedal Tractor Pull. Three times a day, kids can sign up for a chance to see how far they can pedal a tractor that is weighted down in the back.

It's a fun competition with a little bit of education built in, said Alan Bruess, of Cheney, who runs the activity.

"There's a difference between active entertainment and passive entertainment," Bruess said. "When kids are the performers, it makes it that much more fun."

On Tuesday, 6-year-old Addasyn Burrill of Kennewick excitedly signed up for a chance to see how far she could go, but was a little worried as it was about to start.

"They're putting weights in there," she said as her eyes got wide. "I cannot pull with weights."

Addasyn still gave it a shot and found out that she could pedal 25 feet with 75 pounds in the trailer behind her.

She got another chance to try -- this time with 150 pounds -- and got to just under 20 feet.

"That wasn't so easy," she said afterward.

Those looking for another out-of-the-sun stop shouldn't miss the Fine Arts Building to check out photography, paintings, drawings and more done by professionals and amateurs.

As a bonus, linger a little near the sculpture/pottery table and feel the cool breeze from the air conditioner while admiring the work.

Special events on the schedule today include the Kiddies' Parade at 10 a.m., free cooking classes for kids from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a Diaper Derby at 6 p.m.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com