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8 Ways to Save Money at the South Carolina State Fair {Giveaway Included!}


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

If you are visiting the State Fair this year, I hope your family is able to save money while also having tons of fun! What did I miss? What other ways could we save money at the fair?

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10 Responses to 8 Ways to Save Money at the South Carolina State Fair {Giveaway Included!}

  1. Judy Heise October 12, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    Re: proceeds of fairground parking includes all 12 days of the fair, not just opening day. Please correct ASAP.

    • Tiffany
      Tiffany October 12, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks for the clarification! We have made the update.

  2. Angela October 12, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    “…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.”

    I did not know this! Does the ticket only entitle you to certain foods or will any of the food vendors accept it?

    • Tiffany
      Tiffany October 12, 2015 at 9:22 am #

      Yes! It’s a great deal! The ticket just allows you to get your $5 back at the gate. You would still use cash as normal to purchase food from any of vendors once in the fairgrounds. When leaving the fairgrounds before 2 p.m., you hand the ticket to the person manning the gate and this lets them know to give you your $5 back.

  3. Lisa Langley October 12, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    This goes along with the “sharing the food” idea, but when we went a few years ago, we were able to buy one of the drink cups that you can refill for cheaper. Not sure if they do it anymore or how much they cost, but for our family of 5, we bought 2 of the cups and just shared them all day with the cheaper refills.

    • Tiffany
      Tiffany October 12, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      Great idea! I haven’t thought of that one!

    • NEKA October 12, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

      You can also bring the cup back year after year and only pay refill price. I’ve been doing that for the past 3 years!!!

      • Tiffany
        Tiffany October 12, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

        I haven’t heard of this! Which cup are you referring to?

  4. Diane October 12, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you for the information. We look forward the fair every year.

  5. Crystal October 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    I just believe after all the emotional distress, there would be a little better variety or discounts to offer.. But instead you have to pay $5/dollars to park! Regardless of where the benefits go, I am one of those victims and can not buget an additional $5 much less the cost is high enough!!! Guess my kids are not gonna have the chance, for they really need it after all we have been through!!

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