Who doesn’t love going to the fair and letting their hair down for a bit? I do. (Love going to the fair, that is.)


Sure, you eat too much of all bad foods. You might find yourself inhaling the mingled smells of cow patties, axle grease, corn dogs, beer and cotton candy and wonder how you aren’t getting sick yet and when, exactly, you will.



But really, it’s so fun to go to the fair. I love it.

I don’t love how much it normally costs. With a family of six on a regular night at the fair we could very easily spend several hundred dollars. We don’t have several hundred dollars to spare for the fair so a normal full-price night at the fair is not an option for us.

How can a family on a tight budget go to the fair for less?

Seeing as though we are not taking any real vacations (and we rarely do) this year, we finally decided to take our kids to the county fair a few weeks ago. We all had so much fun.


Even Daddy.

There are lots of ways to cut costs when going to the fair.

1. Look for coupons or special offers on the internet.

Earlier in the month I had seen a link for free adult entry tickets to the fair so I went and printed those up even though I wasn’t sure, at the time, that I would use them. It couldn’t hurt!


2. Plan to go to the fair on deal nights, like canned food night.

Since my hunkahunkaburninlove and I both had free entry tickets our entry fee only really cost us sixteen cans of food. To make that even more affordable we bought our canned food a the local Grocery Outlet and we got the most affordable varieties of food available.


3. Save your change throughout the year in a Frivolity Fund jar.

We  made the fair even more affordable by raiding our giant change jar (aka. Frivolity Fund), which we rarely break into, and harvesting all of the quarters. We ended up with over $50 worth of quarters! Amazing.

4. Go to the fair on $1 ride night to make your money stretch a lot further.


In addition to this bounty of quarters, it was $1 ride night. Normally rides run at around $3 – $7. I don’t know about you but with a family of six that means we could maybe afford to send all the kids on one measly ride and then go home, telling them that the fair is really ALL and only about nurturing an appreciation for agriculture and hand-crafts. We’re curmudgeons like that.


5. See if the deal is even better by finding out what kind of show is happening when.

Not only was it $1 ride, canned food, parents had a coupon and broke open the Frivolity Fund jar night, there was also a concert happening. A concert of a band that we love. You can’t always arrange to have all of those awesome things converge at once but you can definitely be on the lookout for that kind of astronomical alignment. This is a band that we have and would pay money to see in concert so for us this was a definite bonus as we felt like we were getting that much more for our canned garbanzo beans money.



6. Save loads of money (and preserve your health) by packing your own food and beverages. 

We decided before going that we were willing to pay the exorbitant price that is charged for fried foods on sticks and such. Had we paid full price for entry or rides we would definitely have foregone the coronary artery disease inducing foods and their blimp-like prices.

Don’t be like us. Save your money.


Or be like us and throw caution to the wind, rotting your soul and your teeth in one fell swoop. Soul? It sounded dramatic. I’m sure there was some soul wastage… it is a carnival after all. Carnal! Momentary! Frivolous!


And yummy.

7. For shorter lines and family atmosphere go on a weekday night and make sure to enjoy the “family” or “kids” end of the midway.

Because we had our stash of quarters and the rides were so cheap we went bananas and went on the best rides multiple times. We spent most of the time at the “family” end of the midway. Not only was this a more family-friendly atmosphere (for smaller kids) it also translated to MUCH shorter lines. It was wonderful. Shorter lines were also made possible by not attending on a weekend which everyone knows is CRAZYtown at the fair.



(This was our third time on the Tilt-a-Whirl. We went on it 6 times. And I felt like I was on a Tilt-a-Whirl still when I got in bed.)


Even with all of these money saving measures the fair still wasn’t cheap (by my standards anyway) but we counted the fun we all had together totally worth it.


Have fun at the fair!


Let loose, man.


Scream on the rides.


Say Weeeeeee!


And eat cotton candy.


All pictures are ©Nancy Doud. Do not use in any way without permission.


















4 thoughts on “Enjoying the County Fair (on a Budget)

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