Well, it's opening day at the Minnesota State Fair. We LOVE the fair in our family. But, the fair is anything but "thrifty". It costs an obscene amount of money to take a family of 8 out for a day of fair fun. Gate admission went up this year, everyone wants to eat something different (and LOTS of it!), the rides multiplied by 5 ride-loving kiddos (ok, Rebekah will gone on her share, but I'm not sure she actually qualifies as "ride-loving"). So, if you want to be truly thrifty you should probably skip the fair. But, we're going! There are a few ways to save a bit while you're there though.
It's too late for this one (sorry), but you can buy advanced fair tickets. Discounted admission tickets, ride tickets and state fair coupon books are on sale at various places for the couple weeks leading up to the fair. We always get a coupon book ($4 if you pre-buy . . . and worth every penny! Even if you pay the $5 full price it's well worth it, so get one the minute you step inside the gate) and save on a few of our favorites and usually risk trying a few new coupon items too. Our kids all did the summer reading program at the library, and one of the prizes is a state fair admission ticket, so, thankfully, all the kids that are old enough to be charged admission have also earned their own ticket by reading over the summer! We buy our ride tickets in advance too and then limit the number of rides the kids go on. We're sneaky (although the older ones are catching on) and always say something like "Do you want it to be a 3 ride day or a 4 ride day?" Like it's up to them or something. We knew all along that it was a 4 ride day, but it makes them feel like they are in control a bit.
Plus, there's free stuff all over the fair if you know how to find it. Our favorite :: in the southwest corner of the food building you can get a sample of fabulous ice cream -- we'll head there straight away when we arrive. Even if it is 7:30 am. That's what the fair is for, right? One year we got free bike helmets for all the kids. The line was pretty long, but, do you know how much 4 nice quality bike helmets cost? Yup, it was worth the wait. I'm not sure if they are doing that again this year (that would be nice since now we have 6 kids and a few of them have grown out of their 2008 bike helmet), I'll have to check.
So, although we do a pretty good job of getting some decent fair deals, the fair really isn't a thrifty place. So, just throw it out the window, for the most part, for a day (or two or three, depending on how hard-core you are about the fair) and enjoy your time at "The Great Minnesota Get-Together". You'll be glad you did! And, in case you wonder, we'll be there next Wednesday, the 31st. Maybe we'll see you there.
Check out this site for helpful thrifty fair tips.