We’re deep into the heart of summer, which means county fairs are popping up everywhere. Our local fair happened last week, and my kids were excited to go. I know exactly how they feel, as I too have great childhood memories of going to the fair. As a parent, however, it usually means dropping a lot of cash in one day — and wondering if it was really worth it.
Luckily, my experiences have taught me how to maximize our family fun while keeping the cost from making me feel like I just got off the Tilt-O-Whirl.
How to Reduce Costs at the County Fair
Eating at the fair is expensive. I could advise you to grab a bite before heading to the fair, but I won’t. Walking down the midway with the smell of corndogs and freshly made mini-donuts is not only impossible to resist; it’s part of the fair experience.
I don’t go anywhere to spend money without a list of what I’m buying, but at the fair, it’s impossible to know what will be offered or what the prices will be. Before buying anything, I walk the entire length of the midway scoping out all the food vendors and their prices. By doing so, I know what’s offered, how much it costs, and who offers what for the cheapest price.
With this information, we can make educated choices that will fill our tummies, but not empty our wallet.
We have two choices when it comes to the rides:
Tickets: Tickets cost $1 a piece, or $45 for a block of 50. The rides my kids go on are generally five tickets per ride; that means we get a maximum of 10 rides, or five rides per kid for $45.
Wrist Bands: Wristbands cost $20 a piece, so for $40 my two kids can go on as many rides as they want.
The choice here is clear; we bought the wristbands. I counted how many rides my kids went on, just to make sure we made the right choice. By the time we called it an afternoon, they were well into the teens each.
I have a very strict policy on games: I’m not paying for them. Every year, I tell the story of how a fast-talking carnival game worker got me to spend $18 on a small stuffed animal for my significant other. If they want to spend their own hard-earned money on games, they’re welcome to do so. They usually bring money along and play one or two — but I think they’re starting to understand why I have the opinion I do.
After four hours at the fair, we headed home full of food, sick of rides, and on budget. County fair, see you again next year!
Do you go to your county fair? How do you stay on budget?
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