Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Minnesota State Fair (on a budget)

The end of summer ritual in Minnesota is a yearly visit to the State Fair. Only there can you walk around eating everything imaginable "on-a-stick". You take in probably a months work of calories in just one day. But boy is it worth it! This year, being the coupon hound I am, decided to visit the Fair on a budget. It worked out great, here is how I did it:

First of all we got free admission into the Fair. How? By volunteering four hours of our day and working at the Little Farm Hands booth. Kids ages 3-10 get to pretend the are farm hands going through the stations. It is free for the kids to do, so it gets quite busy. We volunteered with my daughters Girl Scout troop for their service hours. I started out with the boys at the tractor area. Matt liked telling kids that were to big that they could not ride the tractors. Timmy was inside the shed handing out cool green John Deere tractor hats to the little kids, he really enjoyed that! Later on we got to move into the Garden and help little kids harvest plastic vegetables.

Ali was off with one of her leaders and her daughter. Yes, if you are paying attention, that is Michelle from the Leaving Excess blog! Ali and Alex have been friends since 1st grade. They were also excited to learn that they are in the same homeroom this year, and their desks are next to each other. They were in charge of the stroller parking lot. Later they got to take on the Chicken Coop and help the little kids feed the "chickens" corn and collect eggs. So for a little volunteering with friends, we got free admission (Savings of $38) and everybody got a free t-shirt too.

After volunteering, the rest of the day we spent at the Fair. We spent lots of time in the Eco-Experience building. It is dedicated to sustainable living through recycling, water usage, alternative energy, buying local produce, green building and climate change. I LOVE THIS EXHIBIT! We got there just in time for the kids to be part of a kids sing-along about recycling. The kids go to jump up on stage and help the singer "recycle" the trash she found in the forest. The funniest part was when she asked what we should do with our old toys in stead of throwing them in the trash. Everybody answered, give to a friend, donate etc... but Timmy raised his hand and answered "Sell it on EBay!" I laughed so hard, I guess that little 4 year old is paying attention. Plus, besides being part of the show, we got our family picture taken about using reusable bags, and received 5 reusable bags! The kids stamped their earth passports and each got a compass (could have used that camping!)
Walking around the Fair we also received 5 more reusable bags, pens, pencils, water bottle, Frisbee, chip clips, cinch sacks, pet food t-shirt, 2 tubes Loreal mascara, Loreal Vive trail shampoo & conditioner, Twins poster, rulers, bracelets, and other small trinkets...all for free

But the best park of the Fair in my opinion is the food. I pre-bought 2 coupon books (Blue Ribbon Bargain Books) at Cub Foods before the Fair started for just $4 each. We figured between the two books we saved at least $50 on food alone. We ate (or shared): foot long hot dog, cheese curds, mini doughnuts, pancakes on a stick, meatball sundae, Italian sausages, 4 pops, pepperoni pizza bread, taco salad, quesadillas, meat sticks & corn fritters. See what I mean about consuming so many calories in one day. We also brought along our own water bottles that we refilled every time we passed a drinking fountain. (Savings approx $50)
The kids favorite part was the rides. We did not do any rides at the Anoka County Fair, so I promised we would at the State Fair. I also pre-bought ride tickets at Cub Foods for $10 for 20 tickets. At the fair they are $.75 each. Each kid got a sheet of 20 tickets to do any ride they wanted. They all picked their own, and had a great time. Ali was looking a little green at the end, and ended up giving Matt her extra tickets after three rides. (Savings of $.25 a ticket or $15)

Plus we also used a free park and ride bus, and didn't have to fight the traffic parking at the Fair or pay for parking (Savings $5)
So the way I look at it, we pre-spent $38 for coupons and ride tickets, spent $60 on food and saved $108 at the Fair this year, ate like pigs, and came home with tons of free stuff to boot! I just love the Minnesota State Fair!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I, however, was less prepared to save at the State Fair, not having pre-purchased ride tickets and not getting the coupon book (we were in the WI Dells when that was available). We did bring our own waters and we saved by three of us working the fair, but we spent closer to $200 - ugh.

Way to go!
Michelle @ leavingexcess

A blog about living within your means in todays world, while being married, raising three kids, working full-time, and trying not to go crazy in the process.