Sensory Friendly Morning Welcomes Fairgoers with Sensory Processing Differences for Inclusive Kentucky State Fair Experience
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 25, 2021) — Even without lights and music, the midway was full of life at the inaugural Kentucky State Fair Sensory Friendly Morning on Wednesday, Aug. 25. More than 1,000 complimentary tickets and midway wristbands were distributed to fairgoers with sensory processing differences through partnerships with FEAT(Families for Effective Autism Treatment) of Louisville of Louisville, the Kentucky Autism Training Center and Home of the Innocents.
“The Kentucky State Fair strives to bring all Kentuckians together in a safe and meaningful way” said David S. Beck, president and CEO of Kentucky Venues. “We always look for additional ways to include more Kentuckians. Our partners at Kissel Entertainment have held similar events in the past and helped us create our first Sensory Friendly Morning to welcome fairgoers who may be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a typical Fair.”
“We like to host a Sensory Friendly Morning at every event we produce,” said R.A. Kissel, president of Kissel Entertainment, “and are excited we were able to welcome families and guests with autism to Thrill Ville with lights and sound off so they were able to enjoy the attractions.”
The Kentucky State Fair is normally filled with flashing lights, screaming children, and loud music—all factors that can overwhelm those with sensory processing differences. That means many children and their families stay home and miss out on an enjoyable Fair experience because of the potential for sensory overload.
“Programs like the sensory friendly morning enhance the local community’s awareness and understanding of autism and the challenges our families face. No music or lights may sound like a non-traditional fair environment but without these changes, many families are unable to experience the State Fair,” said Shellie A. May, BSN, Executive Director FEAT of Louisville.
“Many autistic people and those with other disabilities may experience their senses a bit differently. A designated time to explore and have fun with fewer lights and sounds typically associated with the fair is a wonderful opportunity for them to participate in this tradition with their family and friends. Our hope is that this event will be held annually and that similar events might be hosted throughout the Commonwealth,” said Heidi Cooley-Cook, Assistant Director with the Kentucky Autism Training Center.
The Sensory Friendly Morning was a safe, inclusive environment, rides running without the regular loud music and flashing lights. A large tent was provided in case guests felt overwhelmed so they could take a break while visiting the midway.
The 2021 Kentucky State Fair runs through Aug.29 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. For more information, visit www.kystatefair.org. To learn more about autism and sensory processing differences visit featoflouisville.org and louisville.edu/education/kyautismtraining.