Children And Kids Toys: Winning A Stuffed Animal At The Fair

How to Win Stuffed Animals at a Fair Without Spending the Contents of Your Wallet.

There are a lot of reasons to go to the fair - exhibits, livestock auctions, greasy food, fun rides and stages filled with local and national acts. It's a great place to bring a date, your friends or the entire family. However, one of the most rewarding parts of the fair is the area filled with games where you can win stuffed animals, pictures and shiny baubles that show off your skills while impressing all of the people you brought with you.

The problem with most games at the fair is that they're made specifically to favor the operator, not the player. You can spend hours (as well as the contents of your wallet) trying to throw a ring around the neck of a bottle, make a couple of hoops, throw a plastic ball into a fishbowl, shoot a bulls-eye with a bb gun or dunk a clown. However, there's a much easier way to win all of the stuffed animals and baubles that the fair offers - you just need to know which games to play.

In every group of fair games, there's a few where you're not just trying to prove your skills - you're competing against a group of other contestants. Three of the most popular of these games involve hitting things with a mallet, rolling plastic balls and firing water guns. Each of these activities causes an increase of points, moves the contestant's avatar towards the finish line or fills a tube with water. Whoever gets the most points, reaches the finish line or fills up their tube first wins whatever prize that game is offering. The beauty of these games is that, for each round of the game, someone walks away with a prize.

The hardest of these games are the ones that involve hitting things with a mallet (mostly things like alligators, gophers or ghosts). While it still has the advantage of being a competition against others, it requires speed and good hand-eye coordination. Because of that, you have two options to better your chances. You can either search out your local arcade with a similar game before going to the fair, spending a few hours practicing your technique, or you can bring a sizable group to the fair and take over a round of the game. That way, assuming that none of your friends is a wizard at the game, you can be assured that you're playing against people who are just as bad as you. As well, it guarantees that at least one of the members of your group gets bragging rights over the others.

An easier option is to try your hand at rolling plastic balls. In general, the object is to roll them across a flat surface into different holes that are each worth a certain point value that are then tied into the placement of your avatar (generally a football player or racing farm animal) on a board behind the game operator. When you roll the ball into a higher valued hole, your avatar moves up that many spaces. Not only do you want to score a higher number of points, you want to do it as quickly as possible. While filling up all the spaces for this game like you did in the last one has its advantages, there's usually more places to fill. Whether you manage to do that or you're playing against a group of strangers, the best strategy is to stay focused on the area directly in front of you. Most people get distracted with watching their avatar moving across the board, causing their speed to falter and their aim to deteriorate.

My favorite game at the fair involves firing water guns. The target is a circle, slightly larger than a half dollar, which either remains stationary throughout the game or jerks from side to side. The same rules apply to winning this game - taking over all of the available spaces can guarantee that at least one person in your group wins and staying focused on your target rather than your place in the game will help immensely. However, one trick I've learned over the years is that the operator of the game controls when the water comes out of your gun. Because of this, you shouldn't wait until they say "go" to start firing your gun. Aim and pull the trigger as soon as they start counting down to begin, the few seconds you gain over everyone else who's waiting for "go" to aim and start firing may be the difference between winning and coming in a close second.

One thing I will admit about this strategy is that the games which guarantee a winner for each round also guarantee smaller prizes than those that have harder to beat odds. You're not going to win a giant pink tiger that takes up an entire seat in your car in one round. However, while your first prize will easily fit in one hand, the game operators want you to come back. To convince you to do so, they allow you to trade up after each winning round for bigger and bigger prizes. So, enjoy your new found fame and be sure to not give away all of your secrets to too many people - it's a lot easier to win when your competition stays in the dark.

© High Speed Ventures 2011