The N.C. State Fair starts October 15 this year and there are plenty of ways to save, including discount tickets that went on sale in early August! Read on for all the details including ways to get into the fair for free!
Fair Dates: The 2015 N.C. State Fair will take place from October 15 through October 25.
Location: The fair is located at 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27607.
You can find extensive details regarding the event on the State Fair website.
The following list includes ways you can cut your costs at the fair including entrance fees, ride tickets, food cost and even a free breakfast for seniors!
Free and Discounted Individual Tickets
Seniors 65 and older: FREE every day!
Kids 5 and younger: FREE every day!
Military adults: $6 at the gate every day for Active-duty service members, reservists, retirees, National Guardsmen and their dependents (ages 13-64). Veterans are also offered the $6 discount for themselves and one discounted ticket for a guest or dependent. Proper ID required. See the Fair website for a list of accepted identification.
Advance Sale Tickets online and at walk-up locations through October 15: $8 for adults and $3 for kids (the regular price at the gate is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6 – 12)
Group Discount Tickets
Adult ticket group discount: Purchase 40 or more adult tickets in advance of the fair at the same time for $6 per ticket
Child’s ticket group discount: Purchase 40 or more children's tickets in advance of the fair at the same time for $2 per ticket.
Purchase group tickets online or at the advance sales locations. The group discount available Aug. 1 through Oct. 15. The adult and child tickets cannot be combined. You have to get 40 of either the adult or the child tickets to get the discount.
Free Weekday Lunch Pass Admission
Get into the Fair for FREE during lunch on the weekdays! Here are the details from their website:
• Visit Gate 9 off Trinity Road, or Gate 1 off Hillsborough Street after 11:30 am on any weekday, Monday – Friday, of the fair. This deal is not available at any other gates or on the weekends.
• Buy a lunch card at the gate for $10 with cash (no credit accepted)
• Buy your lunch from the fair food vendors on site. Fair food vendors take cash and there are ATMS in the fairgrounds.
• Go to the same gate you entered by 1:30 pm with your lunch card and you will get a full $10 cash refund when you show them the card.
• If you don’t get to the gate by 1:30 p.m., you do not get the $10 back. The card is good only on the day purchased and only for adult admission.
Family 4-Pack Deal
The Family 4-Pack includes: 4 admission tickets and 2 ride sheets for $44. You'll save $32 off regular gate price and $8 off the advance ticket price. The Family 4-Pack offer is available online only through October 15. Once you pay for the offer online, you will receive a print-at-home ticket. Local and state sales taxes are included in the price.
N.C. State Fair Mega Pass
If you REALLY like going to the fair, you can buy a Mega Pass allowing you 11-day access to the N.C. State Fair. The pass is $66.00. You'll save $44 off gate admission and $22 off the advance ticket cost. The passes are available online only through October 15 and will be a print-at-home ticket. You can have it scanned at the gate one time per day during the Fair. You can't use the ticket to gain entrance for multiple people in a single day. As with all advance tickets, there are no refunds offered on Mega Passes.Local and state sales taxes are included in the ticket price.
N.C. State Fair Mini Pass
Spend multiple days at the fair with the Mini Pass. You'll get 4-day access to the N.C. State Fair for $24.00. You save $16 off gate admission and $8 off the advance price. The passes are available online only through October 15 and will be a print-at-home ticket. You can have it scanned at the gate one time per day during the Fair. You can't use the ticket to gain entrance for multiple people in a single day. As with all advance tickets, there are no refunds offered on Mega Passes.Local and state sales taxes are included in the ticket price.
Advance Sale Ride Tickets
Buy Advance Sale Ride Tickets through October 15 online or at walk-up locations (see the State Fair website for list of walk-up locations): $10 for a sheet of $18 tickets (at the fair they are $1 per ticket so buying in advance saves you a lot of money)
Online ticket purchases will be subject to a convenience fee.
For a list of walk up locations, head to their website.
Special Discount and Event Days
October 15: Preview Day
Entrance cost same as advanced sales: $8 for adults and $4 for kids
Preview Day Ride Wristband for $28. Good for unlimited rides from 3 PM until Midnight (weather permitting). The wristbands can only be bought at ticket booths on the Midway at the Fair on October 15. They cannot be purchased in advance. The wristband is only good on October 15.
October 16: Friday Frenzy
Student Discount with School ID or Report Card
Students can buy a $5 admission ticket by presenting their school identification or recent (2015) report card at the ticket booth on Friday. October 16. You save 50% off the regular ticket price. These tickets are not available online or in advance. One ticket may be purchased per student ID at the reduced price. Taxes are included in the ticket price.
Unlimited Ride Wristband
Powers Great American Midways will offer a 2nd unlimited ride wristband day on Friday, October 16, from 10 am to closing. The wristband is $34 and can be purchased at the midway ride ticket booths in the fairgrounds. They can't be purchased in advance. Individual ride tickets and ride sheets purchased in advance can still be used on this day, in addition to the unlimited ride wristband.
October 20: Senior Citizen’s Day
Senior Citizen’s Day is Tuesday, October 21.
Seniors get a free Bojangles breakfast and entertainment at the Senior Citizen Fun Festival on October 20. The breakfast event will take place in Dorton Arena from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.
Parking and handicap parking will be available in Carter Finley Stadium (Gate A).
Remember, Seniors who are 65 or older get in to the fair for free every day!
October 21: Military Appreciation Day
North Carolina Education Lottery Military Appreciation Day is Wednesday, October 21.
The first 3,000 people in to the fair will receive a 4” x 6” United States flag.
11:00 am: Military Appreciation Parade starting behind the Scott building.
There are a number of other free events at Dorton Arena to honor our military on October 21 that will be announced on their website soon.
Remember that Military adults get a discounted ticket of $6 at the gate every day
October 22: Food Lion Hunger Relief Day
The annual Hunger Relief Day is Thursday, October 22. Bring five cans of Food Lion brand food to the N.C. State Fair on Thursday, Oct. 22, and you will receive one free admission ticket.
Look for canned food on sale in the next couple months for as low as .50 per can to get a great deal on admission!
The donated food will go to the The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. They will distribute the cans to those in need in a 34 county area surrounding Raleigh and with Second Harvest Food Banks in other regions, such as Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Elizabeth City. This is a fantastic way to get a super discount on fair admission AND help your neighbors in need!
For more information on the special events listed above, head to their website.
Additional tips for saving at the fair
Bring your own food! You can bring in food and drinks in small bags. No glass bottles or alcohol are allowed. I realize that one of the main reasons that many folks go to the fair is for the amazing (and sometimes bizarre) foods that you only see once a year. After you enjoy your Sloppy Joe doughnut burger or deep fried Sugar Daddy, you are also going to want something to drink. If you don't want to spend way too much money 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! Pack some snacks and your wallet and belt will thank you.
Free exhibits and events: Enjoy the many free exhibits and events including Antique Farm Machinery, Flower and Garden Show, Village of Yesteryear, Fireworks (nightly at 9:45 pm), Folk Festival, Kenya Safari Acrobats, Racing Pigs, k9’s in Flight, Down to Earth Aerials, Fire Safety Show, Juggling, BMX bike riders Stunt Show, Comedy Hypnotist show, multiple music stages and more! See the full schedule of free entertainment and exhibits on their website.
Make it an educational field trip: There are plenty of free activities and exhibits at the fair every year. There is a whole section on the fair website with information on the many educational opportunities at the fair.
Free coloring pages for the kiddos on the fair website.
Free rides for the parents of young kids: There are a number of rides that parents can ride for free when accompanying a paying child. From their website: "Parents can ride on all slides and Merry-Go-Rounds for free when accompanying a paying child who is 40-inches tall or less. "
WRAL Tent freebies! Come visit the WRAL tent for free WRAL swag!
Money saving suggestions readers offered last year:
* "Sharing food is something we do. Normally the portions are very large and we can also try more things that way."
* "We always take a huge empty cup. A lot of the vendors will refill any cup for $1."
* "The best way to make sure you don't spend too much is to take in a certain amount of cash and leave the atm card in the car. You will be more selective on what you purchase and once it's gone and you've made that long walk back to your car, you aren't likely to turn around and go back in!"
* "I always pack juice boxes and water for our outings. My 3 years has her own backpack that she puts her juice and snacks in."
What ideas do you have for spending less at the fair?
Have fun and remember: It’s your money – spend it wisely!