Can you believe that the Puyallup Fair is only about a month away? I just adore the Fair – probably more so now that I have kids that can experience it. The Fair runs September 7 – 23 this year.
I thought I’d give you all a jump start on planning your trip by sharing my best ideas for how to save at the Fair.
Saving on Admission
First, here’s the regular pricing for 2012 admission: adults $12.50; students 6-18 $9; seniors 62+ $9; kids 5 & under FREE.
- Free Gate Food Drive. On opening day (Sept 7th), gain FREE entrance between 9 and noon by bringing a suggested donation of a non-perishable food item. This should be rather simple for my couponers out there! This is how we’ve “done the Puyallup” for many years (until my kid started school!) and I found that actually it’s not that busy of a time to be at the Fair. For a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) that could save you about $43 right there!
- FREE Kids’ Weekend. BECU is sponsoring a “Free Kids” weekend for Sept 8th and Sept 9th where kids 18 and under will gain free entrance! Important: you WILL need a coupon, and that coupon will be available at BECU’s website starting August 13th. Note that kids 5 and under are ALWAYS free.
- Pre-buy Discounted Tickets. You can buy discounted tickets ahead of time at participating Safeway, Walgreens, and Columbia Bank locations. The discounts will run: adults $9; students 6-18 $7.50; seniors 62+ $7.50. Remember that kids 5 and under are free.
- Fred Meyer Value Pack. Starting in August and running through Sept 7th only, you can buy a “family value pack” at Fred Meyer stores for $34.95. The pack includes: (2) gate admissions, (10) food bucks, (6) rides – excluding Extreme Scream, and 2-for-1 coupon for the rodeo. If your kids get a free fair ticket from school, this might be a package worth considering. Value of the package is $62.
- Military Appreciation Days. On Sept Mon 10th and again Sept Mon 17th, active, retired, and reserve military and National Guard as well as disabled veterans and their dependents can get FREE admission to the Fair. Just bring valid military ID.
- Happy Hour Thursdays. I think this one may be new – I don’t recall seeing this discount before? On Sept Thurs 13th and Sept Thurs 20th, you can get in to the Fair for just $7 after 7pm.
- Watch Daily Deal sites! Last year, we saw a HOT Groupon offer for Buy one, get one free Puyallup Fair tickets!
Saving on Parking
There is no shortage of parking around the Fair, but it can be expensive. This year’s rates for the Fair lots are $10 M-F, and $12 on Sa – Sun. Here are a few ideas for saving on parking.
- Look for a non-Fair lot. You’ll find many private businesses (and even residences!) will offer cheaper rates. I’d say if you find anything $5 or less, you’re sitting pretty.
- Keep an eye on the Fair website. I’m not finding this post now, but I’m pretty sure one year the Fair offered $5 parking on their Gold lot with coupon. Does anyone else remember this or what it was about?
- Carpool or use Public Transportation. There used to be a “Fair Express” you could take free of charge, but this is sadly no longer the case. However, if you’d prefer to avoid the hassle of driving and parking, you can check out Pierce Transit or Sound Transit for options.
- Park far, far away…. I’ll admit. We’ve done this before when we’re feeling really cheap. We’ll park about 1/2 mile away and find street parking. This does exist, but be prepared for a serious hike.
Whatever you do, do NOT park in the parking lot of a local business or something else that’s likely to get you towed! No good. Other ideas for saving on parking?is
Saving on Rides
Probably the best way to save on rides is to not go on any. At $0.50 per ticket and most rides requiring several tickets, you can see how quickly things add up! However my kids would say no trip to the Fair would be complete without a few rides.
- Monday Madness 50% off. On Sept 10th ONLY get 50% off select rides, games and food. Any of the any Funtastic Midway or SillyVille rides and any Funtastic games are half price!
- Dizzy Pass. Buy a Dizzy Pass for $27.50 or buy online through Sept 6 for $22.50. I was unable to find where online you can actually buy one however – I’d call the Fair for more information. This pass gets you unlimited Funtastic Midway and SillyVille rides plus one free game. Note that the Dizzy Passes are ONLY valid Tue – Thurs, Sept 11-13th and Mon – Thurs, Sept 17-20. They do not include gate admission!
Saving within the Park
Even if you can manage to get into the Fair for free, and park for free…you might quickly discover that the Fair…can be expensive. Here are some ideas of fun things you can do for free.
- Pack your own snacks. You can definitely bring your own food and drink into the Fair. Beverages must have a lid on them (such as a water bottle) and you may not bring alcoholic beverages. Of course, Fair food is just fun, but you could save a little by bringing your own drinks, chips, apples, and other such foods to much on.
- See the animals. There are lots of animal barns, a petting zoo, and even animal events you can take in for free. This is always a highlight for my kids and it costs nothing. They’ve also recently added a Rainforest Adventures Exhibit which is free to check out. Check out the Animal Exhibits page for more.
- Eat some free treats. Yeah, I’ll admit it. I like trying all the free food! This is a fun way to eat some special treats without shelling out the dough. Here are a few of my favorite ideas: 1) hang around the Vitamix demo table for healthy smoothies and soups, 2) stop by the dairy barn for free samples of milk, chocolate milk and sometimes egg nog, 3) keep your eyes peeled in the expo halls for free samples of stuff like fudge, honey, and jams and 4) throughout the Fair are these water stations you can get a small cone of water from – I’m forgetting the company – Mountain Mist, perhaps?
- Get some free stuff. I swear my eyes close in on all the freebies at the Fair. From free food samples, to stickers for the kids – I’ve even gotten coloring books and flower seeds. Keep an eye out for what you can get for nada.
- Play Puyallup Fair Bingo. The Fair is your oyster, so why not have a little fun? Perhaps you could make up a game such as “Puyallup fair bingo” where the goal would be to find different things and the winner gets a scone or something equally as yummy.
What other things do you do at the Fair for free?
You’ve been “Fair” Warned
The Fair is one of those things that can be kind of frugal, sorta frugal, not very frugal, or downright expensive depending on how you do it. I personally save where I can, but also think of the day as a bit of a treat for my family. We will do some rides, no doubt have some scones and cotton candy, and maybe even buy something from the Expo hall that strikes our fancy. For us, saving at the Fair may be more about saving in other areas so we can splurge a bit on that day.
For more reading, please check out my post called The Frugal Misadventures of the Russell Family: Puyallup Fair edition as well as my attempt at making Homemade Elephant Ears (hint: they are GOOD.)
Will you be doin’ the Puyallup this year?