Seven Tips for a Frugal State Fair Experience

It’s August already and that usually means it’s time for state Fairs across the country. The Wisconsin State Fair is being held this week and we drove down to it this past weekend.

In general attending the state fair is a expensive activity for us as we have to spend about 4 gallons of gas, pay for parking, entrance tickets and food there. After our visit this year I learned a few things I will keep in mind next year to improve our experience. If you are considering going to your state fair consider these tips:

  1. Consider Carpooling. This year to cut back on transportation costs we invited a couple of friends to ride with us in the car. By doing this we only paid half of what we would have paid otherwise for gas and for parking.
  2. Research chances of getting free/inexpensive tickets. One of the grocery stores in our area was offering discounted fair tickets if you brought in food donations for the food pantry. There are also other discounts offered if you can attend during the week instead of over the weekend.
  3. Bring a water bottle. You will probably be doing a lot of walking. It will most likely be hot and you will get thirsty often. Chances are there will be water fountains and you will have a chance to refill your water bottle there.
  4. Avoid the temptation to indulge in fair food by bringing some healthy snacks that will provide you with fuel to carry on the rest of the day: trail mix, energy bars, etc. Something that is light and easy to carry.
  5. Leave the credit cards home and bring just enough cash to pay for parking, admission, lunch and minimal spending money. The temptation to spend is everywhere at a state fair. It starts as soon as you walk in: food stands, fair gear shops, fair rides, etc.
  6. Ask for coupons: Yes! there ARE coupons for the fair! As soon as you get there head to the information booth and ask if they have coupon booklets. The coupon booklet we got this past Saturday had lots of coupons to several food venues there. There were also discount coupons to a few of the stores selling items and for the fair rides.
  7. Don’t forget to buy local. At one time State fairs offered small local businesses the opportunity to promote their products. Sadly, I noticed that the vast majority of products sold at the Wisconsin state fair were not made in this country, let alone this state. So, if you go to your local fair and find yourself thinking of buying something, please consider buying something that will promote your state and its economy.

Despite not wanting to go initially due to gas prices, I am glad we all went to the State fair this year. Gas prices shouldn’t disrupt family traditions. There are other ways to compensate the expense. Are you attending your state fair this year? What are you looking forward the most? I’ll go first, all I really wanted was a cream puff, yum!