State Fair sets aside two hours for sensory rides

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Like all moms, Valerie Knapp loves taking pictures of her children.

What do you want to know

  • The second week of the Wisconsin State Fair kicked off on Monday
  • For two hours, SpinCity at the fair was “sensitive to the senses”
  • All music, lights and sound effects have been turned off on rides and games to allow sensitive children to enjoy

On Monday, Knapp took a lot of them while his kids rode the rides at the Wisconsin State Fair.

“He’s been on monster trucks, roller coasters and motorcycles,” Knapp said. “We came here a short time ago, and hopefully he can do a lot more.”

She was referring to her son Noah. He has sensory sensitivities, so sometimes getting him on the rides at the fair is a challenge.

“Even like, the type of clothes he wears sometimes is even very sensory for his body,” Knapp said. “So adding rides and lights and flashy noises and all that is a lot for him.”

When she heard the fair was hosting a two-hour sensory-friendly block, it was a no-brainer.

“We specifically went today because of the sensory experience,” Knapp said. “We started out here at the rides so we could stick to that time frame and then kind of moved on to the other things.”

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., all music, lights, and even game sound effects were turned off to give kids with sensory needs the chance to enjoy all the fun without that extra stress.

“Otherwise he might avoid going on and having the experience of doing those rides,” Knapp said of his son.

That’s something Tess Kerksen, public relations director for the Wisconsin State Fair, said the fair wants to make sure to change this year.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome guests and be so inclusive of it all with sensory needs,” Kerksen said. “It was really a priority for us because we say ‘something for everyone’ here at the Wisconsin State Fair, and we mean everyone. Those with sensory needs, there was a very simple solution to reduce some of the light and some of the noise in SpinCity to allow these people to come in and have an amazing time.

Knapp said she loves seeing Noah and other kids with sensory needs enjoy riding the rides and playing games.

The fair said it plans to continue the sensory morning every summer.

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