The Sugarloaf Craft Festival is back at the Maryland State Fairground this weekend. With fun & food enclosed in the Cow Palace, is a great ‘beat the scummy weather’ option for families. We had a chance to swing by this afternoon and have a few pointers:

1. Have kids in tow? Your first stop should be Randy’s Candies — a good old fashioned candy stand. Grab a bag of gummy bears for $3.50 and dole them out one at a time. You’ll be amazed how much good behavior mileage you’ll get. {{Good behavior incentive or bribery, call it what you will — it works.}}

2. We established a ‘hands in your pockets’ rule before we even entered the building. With an assortment of ceramic artisans, I wasn’t taking any chances. Although the Bug didn’t actually have pockets to put her hands in, she understood that this was not a place to touch everything. When there was something that she could touch (say, a purse. The Bug has a serious purse fetish!), we simply gave her permission to ‘take her hands out of her pockets.’ And any time there was a huge open space, we let her run around and get some energy out.

3. Be sure to check out the castle! Middle Earth Studio has set up a castle and invites audience members to put on elaborate costumes,transform into actors and actresses and perform. A lot of fun. Captures the imagination of all kids.

4. Plan in advance. Let’s be honest — a craft fair is not going to keep your kids entertained for hours on end. Check out the list of vendors ahead of time and note which vendors are your ‘can’t miss’ ones. When attention and good sport starts to wan, hit the specialty foods row for free samples and a blood sugar boost. Chances are, you’ll get one or two more vendors in!

5. Late afternoon seemed to be a good time to go. The festival is open from 10 AM – 6 PM and we went around 4:45 PM. Crowds seemed to be thinning and there was plenty of room to maneuver a stroller through the aisles. An hour was perfect for our two-year-old.

Headed to Sugarloaf? We’d love to know what you thought!

Disclaimer: Our family was provided complimentary passes to attend the Festival. All views and opinions expressed in this post are entirely ours — that’s our promise to our readers.