Last year, I posted about our Frugal Misadventures at the Puyallup Fair. Learning from our mistakes, we did a few things differently this year and I wanted to share them with you!
Win #1: We Ate Ahead of Time
This year, instead of spending $43 on this…
We decided to eat before we got into the Fair! We opted for a fast food lunch, where we spent $16 total. To my kids, it was still a special treat and we saved a whopping $27 off last year’s lunch. Win.
Win #2: We saved on admission & parking.
This year, admission cost us $18 (I bought our adult tickets ahead at Safeway – which saved $7 versus buying at the gate; Keefe got a free student’s ticket from school and Piper got in for free because she’s
cute under 5.)
I know that this isn’t feasible for everyone, but Terry had a pal who lives close to the Fair, so we were able to park at his house and walk. Last year, we paid $10 for parking.
Win #3: We brought cash, and came with a plan!
This year, we took out cash before we set foot on the fair grounds. I brought $105, to be exact. We realized that the main reason we wanted to go to the Fair this year was for our kids. And our kids pretty much wanted to do one thing in particular….
Now the rides at the Fair are NOT cheap! Sadly, we weren’t able to visit on a bracelet day, either. The best value the ticket booth seemed to be selling was 120 tickets for $50. The rides in Sillyville (the kids’ area) were 7 tickets each this year (I swear they were 6 tickets last year!). That meant for each ride my kids went on together, they’d use 14 tickets – which is roughly 8 rides total.
In looking at my post from last year, I see we spent $70 on rides because we didn’t much have a plan of attack (nor did we bring only cash). That means we saved $20 this year over last year. We were also happy to spend half of our cash on the kiddos knowing we’d saved on other things – namely food and parking!
We also made it clear to our kids, “here’s how many tickets we have today.” No more getting back in line for tickets! And it worked, truly – there was no begging at the end of it. Phew.
Win #4: Fair Snacks, not Fair Meals
Everyone has their favorite fair foods, and that’s certainly true in my family! After the rides and lunch outside the park, we had $39 left to spend.
My husband wanted to pick up one of these:
And I opted to take a lil’ bag home of these:
I’m going to let you scone lovers in on a secret, but you’ve got to promise me you won’t go blabbing it everywhere, OK? I got my scones yesterday in Sillyville – the area right outside that train station. Guess how many people were in line ahead of me? ONE. And this was at 3pm on a SATURDAY. A little bit later I walked past ridiculously long scone lines and smiled at my little discovery. But don’t you tell too many folks, or you might ruin the secret! OK, so shhhhhhh…..
Speaking of Sillyville, I wanted to mention that it’s a great place to stop by for less expensive food fare! See the stand pictured above? Not only did they have a kid’s burger for $2.75, they also sold items like hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches for about $2 or $3 each!
My kids adore mini donuts and we found those in Sillyville too:
They sold a baker’s dozen mini donuts (which is 13 total) for $4! My kids split that, so that’s a fun fair treat for $2 each. Not bad considering the price of some of the other fair treats available.
Here’s a final tip for you, in case you weren’t already aware:
Buy your fair foods outside the fair! We found this one stand selling huge bags of cotton candy for $3.50! I didn’t catch how much it was inside the fair, but I’d gander at least $5 for the same size…and possibly more.
Win #5: We didn’t spend $3 on a water bottle. Or any beverage, for that matter.
There are these Mountain Mist stations throughout the Fair where you can get free bottled water in a small paper funnel:
You can also bring your own food into the fair! I packed the kids a couple juice boxes too, which was good because it was pretty hot on Saturday.
There is also a dairy barn with free milk samples. My kids liked the chocolate milk best.
The only thing I wish I would’ve done differently is brought some water bottles for Terry & me. There were a couple moments I was really tempted to just pony up and pay the $2 or $3 because I didn’t think I could wait for another Mountain Mist station. But then I knew I’d be kicking myself as soon as I bought one. I’ll remember this for next year.
Win #6: We stayed for just a while.
In years past, we’ve felt this need to go through all the barn buildings, all the halls, walk around all the spa/fireplace tents…. this year, we didn’t. When we realized the fair was pretty much for the kiddos this year, it was easy to say NO to going through those blasted expo halls where they sell life insurance and leaf gutters. We didn’t have to see all the animals, just the ones my kids were particularly bent on seeing.
We arrived at the Fair at about 11:30 and were back in our car at about 4:30. No one was grouchy or overly tired and hooray! We were in home by dinnertime which meant we weren’t hungry and felt the need to stop somewhere on the way home.
Here’s the other fun part, we left with a few bills still in our pockets! Score!
For fun, I thought I’d break down last year’s trip versus this one:
Admission & Parking
2011: $10 (free with Groupon, paid for parking)
2012: $18 (paid for 2 adults ticket, free parking)
2011: $70 (lunch, snacks – estimated)
2012: $42 (lunch, snacks)
2011: $70 (two bracelets, plus extra tickets)
2012: $50 (120 tickets)
I think shaving $40 off a day at the Fair is respectable! No doubt there are more things we could’ve done to have saved money, but I’m happy with all we were able to do for that amount. Of all the things we did to save this year, I would say bringing cash and prioritizing/setting limits on what we wanted to do contributed the most to saving money.
I’d love to hear if you have any tips on saving money at the fair – either the Puyallup Fair, or your local fair?