WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Saving at the NC State Fair!

Posted October 17, 2011

Wondering how to afford a trip to the State Fair without having to take out a loan? It can be done! Here are tips to save you some dough so you can enjoy more dough (the fried kind with powdered sugar, of course)!  Please share your money-saving ideas as well.

Free admission: Get into the fair for FREE on Thursday, October 20th when you bring 4 cans of Food Lion brand food for Hunger Relief Day. Cans of veggies are often $1 or less at Food Lion so for $4 or less in food, you can get into the fair. With the regular admission price at $8.00 - that's like getting a 1/2 price ticket!  The food you donate goes to the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina, the same place our donations went to after the food drive we had at the couponing class on Saturday. Thanks again to everyone who donated! Click HERE for the details.

With age comes FREEBIES!: Folks who are age 65 or older get into the fair for FREE every day and children 5 and under also get into the fair for free.  There is also a Senior Citizen Fun Festival at the fair on  Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 from 9-11 a.m. at Dorton Arena.  Seniors can enjoy a free breakfast and Beach music entertainment at the event.  Parking and handicap parking will be available in Carter Finley Stadium (Gate A). Trans will be available to move fairgoers from the parking lot to Dorton Arena. Look for specially designated trams with Senior Day banners. Click HERE for the details.

Thanks to our U.S. Military!: Members of the military, including active duty, reserve, National Guard, retired and veterans, receive a discounted admission of $5 at the gate every day of the fair this year.  Military Appreciation Day is Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 and the N.C. State Fair will have special activities and military band performances during the day. Click HERE for the details.

Weekday Lunch Pass: According to the State Fair website, you can get into the Fair for FREE during lunch! Here are the details: Go to "Gate 9 off Trinity Road, or Gate 12 between the Education & Commercial Buildings only after 11:30 a.m. on weekdays. This offer is not valid at other gates or on weekends. Purchase a lunch card at the gate for $8 with cash (cash sales only). Return the lunch card by 1:30 p.m. to the same gate you entered on the same day purchased for a full cash refund. If you leave later than 1:30 p.m., then you forfeit your $8. The card is good only on the day purchased. This program is only for adult admission."  Click HERE for the details.

Bring your own snacks:  I realize that one of the main reasons some folks go to the fair is for the amazing (and sometimes insane) foods that you only see once a year. After you enjoy your fried bubble gum or 100 lb chicken leg, you are also going to want something to drink. If you don't want to spend many dollars on a bottle of water or a soda, bring your own. Or maybe you plan on taking the whole day to experience the fair and want to make sure you have something to eat with less than 10,000 calories. The good news is that you can bring your own food and drink to the fair. Bags are subject to being searched at the gate so make sure you have no glass bottles. 

Free rides for the kiddos: There are a number of rides that young children can ride for free with a paying adult. Sarah, at Go Ask Mom, published a list of the free rides which include: Fire Chief, Gondola Wheel, Merry Go Round, Dizzy Dragons, Ship's Ahoy, children's slide, Jalopy Junction, Chopper Hopper Helicopter. For more information on who can ride for free, click HERE.  Scroll down to Information for Parents. You can see more of Sarah's great tips for taking the kids to the fair at the link in the box above for "Headed to the State Fair with Kids?"

Free exhibits and performances: There are so many wonderful and FREE exhibits and performances at the State Fair including The Village of Yesteryear, the new Cultivate a Career exhibit, Livestock Barns, Heritage Circle, Flower and Garden Show, Education Building, Arts and Crafts, jugglers, clowns, stunts, pig races and more!  The State Fair website has a great section on educational opportunities including links to resources. Click HERE for more details on exhibits. Click HERE for the daily schedule.  You can top off the evening with free fireworks every night at 9:45!

Come visit me at the WRAL tent for FREEBIES!  I will be at the WRAL tent on Friday, October 21 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM and I will have some fun freebies for the first 20 people who come see me and ask for a freebie! Some of the freebies include a $25 Harris Teeter gift card, whole coupon inserts, WRAL travel mugs and Groupons for dinner!

What ideas do you have for spending less at the fair? And while you are sharing, what is your favorite food? Favorite ride? Favorite exhibit? Favorite performance or event?


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  • klasher Oct 17, 2011

    ncsualum09, yes, can night is super crowded. By 7:00 it's so crowded it's hard to walk around at all!

  • stephlw Oct 17, 2011

    We had a fantastic trip today! It is worth the walk to the back to get the $1 drinks in the old time section! My husband's aunt gave all the kids their history lesson for today on tobacco farming using the barn and things that were there. It was great for the kids to hear about first hand experience of growing up on a farm from someone in their family and to see how things were done. Especially for my 'Quay "city-dwelling" kiddos!

  • Oxymoron02 Oct 17, 2011

    I purchased the bulk of our tickets during the Early Bird Special. If you spent between $40 and $100 online (before the service charge), you got a free adult admission, $101-$200 2 free adult admission, etc. The service fee was 10% of your order. Little quick math showed that $40 in tickets would cost me $44, but I'd get a free adult admission, and even preordering adult admission is $6, so that was a deal.

    I ordered 4 sheets of ride tickets, $44 including the service charge, and got 4 sheets AND an adult admission. Repeat, because 8 sheets of ride tickets is about what our family uses, and what I had planned to preorder. I popped over to the fair grounds one day I was out that way to get the rest of our admission tickets for $6.

    Oh, and my husband is a veteran, so he'll be getting in for $5.

    Last year I packed food for me. Fair food was important to everyone else, so they ate what they wanted. I brought drinks for them.

    Oh, and I'm taking cheap candy.

  • ncsualum09 Oct 17, 2011

    Is can food night typically unusually crowded? I've heard JoCo has early release that day as well, so I am wondering if the lines will outweigh saving on admission...

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 17, 2011

    Definitely looking forward to it, knowles!!

  • knowles7806 Oct 17, 2011

    Can't wait to meet you Friday Faye!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 17, 2011

    Wonderful, etrudeau! Make sure you ask for a freebie! :-)

  • mikke114 Oct 17, 2011

    Yay! We're going on Friday and I will be sure to stop by!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Oct 17, 2011

    Have fun, steph! It will be a beautiful day!!

  • stephlw Oct 17, 2011

    I wish you were going to be there today Faye! We are headed with my husband's family (w/o my husband!) since their school has a day off of school for the fair! ;)