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Fairgoers Experience Sensory-Friendly Morning

Tables set up by autism advocacy groups at the sensory-friendly hours during the Ky. State Fair
Tables set up by autism advocacy groups at the sensory-friendly hours during the Ky. State Fair

The Kentucky State Fair is loud. Animals, vendors and midway rides create a cacophony for visitors.

For people with sensory-processing issues ━ who can more easily experience overload from all the simulation ━ the fair can quickly become unenjoyable.

Working with the Kentucky Autism Training Center and Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Louisville, fair organizers hosted the first sensory-friendly morning on Wednesday.

All the rides at the midway had their sound turned down or off completely. Many rides had their lights off as well.

The only rides open during the two-hour, sensory-friendly period were those that were ranked as ‘kiddie’ or ‘family’ rides by the fair.

The fair offered 1,000 free tickets to people with sensory sensitivities and their families. 

Bryasia Mack attended the fair with her son who has sensory sensitivity. Mack said that in years past, dealing with the noise was tough.

“When it’s a lot of people in a big crowd, he gets overstimulated, and he shuts down,” Mack said.

However, this year, Mack and her son enjoyed fair festivities.

The sounds, sights and crowds of the fair pose a huge challenge for people with sensory sensitivities.

“A lot of times those are triggers that really impact an individual with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder),” said Shellie May, executive director of FEAT of Louisville. 

Kentucky’s state fair is the sixth state fair to have a sensory-friendly offering, according to Eric German with Kissel Entertainment, an organization that helps plan and host the fair.

“We just want to be inclusive and have everybody who wants to come out and enjoy the fair, enjoy it,” said German.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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