Fairgrounds camping: Alternatives for RVers “on the hoof”

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Traveling the back country of Idaho, we were bereft of where to stay. We had no great desire to spend big bucks for an RV park where we’d use hardly any of the amenities. The distaff side wasn’t inclined to hitting the boonies. Where to go? At a fuel station in Bonner’s Ferry we inquired about the whereabouts of a county fairgrounds. “Just up the road in downtown.” A classic case of double-taking, but OK, down the road to downtown we went.


Despite a prevaricating GPS unit, we eventually found the county fairgrounds. And sure enough, camping was allowed – and to top it off – allowed for free. We figured there may have been a bit of divine guidance in all this – had we arrived a couple of hours earlier we would have tried rolling the trailer into a lot crowded with Gatlin Brothers fans. As it was, the Gatlin followers had cleared the lot and we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Parked right next to the baseball diamond, we had the scent of fresh-cut grass drifting in the window. The parking was fairly level, and down the parking lot a fair piece was a free dump station.

This is not the first time we’ve been “rescued” by a county fairgrounds. Traveling through the southern states a few years back, we couldn’t find a suitable place to stay. We telephoned the visitor center in the county seat, made an inquiry and, lo and behold, the red carpet treatment was ours. Yes, we could stay at the fairgrounds which, although closed at the time, were miraculously opened to us. During the stay of a few days, the local police contingent rolled past our site to discreetly make sure all was well with us.

Many county fairgrounds are set up to accommodate RVers; after all, folks tending livestock during the fair like to stay near Miss Piggy, or whoever. Some outfits have elaborate sites with partial to full utility hookups. Others are a bit more on the primitive side, like our experience there in Bonner’s Ferry. Some are free, some charge a very fair price for what you receive.

Plug “fairgrounds” in your GPS unit’s “Point of Interest” feature and you may find a surprising place to put up overnight – or for a few days.

##RVT830

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Cheryl

Don’t forget that some smaller cities also have parks that allow camping. They tend to be away from interstates but if you are planning to visit a non tourist location, call the county office and see if they have hook ups.

ScottA

Have stayed in a number or Fairgrounds, just a few months ago we were in Churchill County NV fairgrounds for a few days.

Another place we’ve stayed: Race tracks (like dirt tracks… cars or motorcycles). We’ve stayed at 9 or 10 tracks in different states and have never been charged. Some even had electric and let me fill my water tanks! Of course you have to be there around their race schedule. The disadvantage might be the noise, the advantage is an evening activity!

Birdie

County Fairgrounds located in SW Arkansas in the town of Hope has a nice setup for RVers. Yucky drive to get there, but is always on my map.

roger

We stayed at Danville, In, Hendricks County fairgrounds last summer for a couple of nights, Very nice place. Fair price for hookups. The PowWow was going on that weekend and made the stay into a great experience.

Ann Andrews

We have had many good fairground experience. I wish fairgrounds with RV camping allowed were all listed, i.e. in Allstays. Fairgrounds often provide a safe area to walk or bike ride.

Stanley Sokolow

Not all county fairgrounds are so generous to RVs. I stayed a night in one in Calistoga, CA, which charged as much as a California state park. Another one in northern California says it excludes RVs over 10 years old, like the posh RV resorts do, but this place was just a grassy field.

Neil

Awesome idea! Stored away, filed under “in a pinch”

Candace Walker

We stayed at the Fairgrounds in Golden Colorado a few years back. Nice place, water and electricity for a resonable price.

Bob Godfrey

We have had very good experiences staying in several fairgrounds around the country, a couple of them were very inexpensive and many times virtually empty.

Tommy Molnar

We have found fairgrounds to be great places to stay, usually found on the spur of the moment. One in WA was SO far out of the way, I thought we were lost! But we found it, and it was a well kept, nicely set up area. Our choice of whether we wanted full hookups, partial, or NO hookups.

Dr. John

fair grounds in rock Springs Wyoming and In Sonoma county ca also

Brian Jensen

We just stayed at Pima County Fairgrounds at Tucson AZ. $125 for a week. Great Wi-Fi and free RV show while we were there.