The South Carolina State Fair is held October 14-25 in Columbia. Many anticipate this annual event, including my kids who ask me on a regular basis when we are going to “that fair” again. I gladly go each year to see those little faces light up when they ride the rides and eat fair food. There is so much to see and do — my family truly has the time of our lives!
The only downside with an abundance of activities is it can sometimes be a strain on the wallet. Between admission, ride vouchers, food, parking, games and attractions, you could easily spend your weekly paycheck before you realize it. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You’ll be glad to know there are actually several ways to save on the fair with a little planning. I compiled a list of many of the deals, so you can easily browse and decide what’s best for your family.
1. Buy Admission Tickets in Advance
This is by far the easiest way to save. Tickets are available in advance until October 13 at Walgreens and online, saving $3 per admission ticket and $5 on ride vouchers. This brings the adult entry cost just $7 and a sheet of ride vouchers (28 total) to $23.
2. Take Advantage of FREE or Almost Free Admission
- On opening day, October 14, everybody is admitted for just $1 at the gate.
- During the entire duration of the fair, kids 5 and under are FREE.
- If you are active or retired military, you and your dependents are admitted FREE every day.
- On Scout Day (October 17) your Girl or Boy Scout (as well as American Heritage Girls) will be admitted FREE when they wear their complete outfits and membership pins.
Although admission is free or reduced, keep in mind there is $5 for parking in all fair lots. All net proceeds from this year’s $5 parking fee will be donated to area flood relief efforts.
3. Save on Rides
POP (Pay One Price) Ride Days – The best deal is to purchase a $23 ride voucher in advance, take your kids during a weekday, and enjoy unlimited rides. (At the fair, the ride voucher is $28, and you get 28 tokens for it, or unlimited rides on weekdays)
When you have several kids, the best deal is to take your child on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. when two ride for the price of one.
4. Eat Without the Crowd
Lunch promo is a super fun option if all you want to do is indulge in some special fare. Offered only on weekdays, give a $5 cash deposit in exchange for a ticket at the ticket booth from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Eat your fill and return your ticket to the ticket booth by 2 p.m. to get your $5 cash deposit back. Just don’t forget $5 for parking in all fair lots.
5. Discuss Plans in Advance
You would be surprised how much it helps to talk to you kids about your budget and your plans before entering the gates. By honestly explaining to children how much your family has to spend, it’s a very good way for them to learn smart money handling skills. My husband and I want our children to understand that going to the fair is a luxury and gratitude is the best way to respond to whatever they receive there.
6. Go to the FREE Attractions
The petting zoo, horses, farm animals and several other attractions, like the poodles, Balloonopolis, pig racing, sand sculptures and many more attractions are free fun for all. Little ones thoroughly enjoy these simple activities and all you have to give is your time.
7. Share the Food
One of the best ways to stay within budget and still enjoy the fair’s cuisine is to let the whole family sample each plate you buy. One serving of curly fries and elephant ears are enough to feed you all day anyways, so why not let everybody nibble a little?
8. Enter to Win a Family 4-Pack of Admission Tickets and Ride Vouchers!
The best savings of all is FREE! We are excited to offer one lucky reader the a family 4-pack of free admission tickets and ride vouchers! Enter below for your chance to win!Family 4-Pack of Admission Tickets and Ride Vouchers to SC State Fair