Tips to keeping your State Fair experience fun and frugal

September 2, 2010 

Ventriloquist Michael Harrison, center, keeps the state fair audience -- kids and adults -- laughing throughout the show with wedgie jokes and funny voices.

KAYLIN BETTINGER / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS Buy Photo

(Note: Reporter Kaylin Bettinger has spent the past week at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. In addition to writing about people and events, she's been making a checklist of practical tips for fairgoers.)

1. Split with friends. The food portions tend to be huge, but let's face it: It's not about cutting down. Split things so you can try many different fair foods.

2. Bring a knife. If you plan to split, bring a plastic knife or two with you. Most vendors don't supply them.

3. Bring a water bottle. Water is pricey; there are plenty of other goodies to spend your bucks on. So bring the free water with you.

4. Come early. Especially on weekends. The fair opens at 10 a.m. on weekends and 12 p.m. on weekdays. There are hardly any lines when the fair opens, and the rides are almost empty. Plus, you'll get a parking spot near the entrance.

5. Hit the free events. One of my favorites was Michael Harrison's free ventriloquism show. 12:30, 3 and 6 p.m. daily. I thought it would be cheesy, but the guy is hysterical. Fred Scheer's lumberjack show is worth checking out, especially if you haven't seen it before. The jokes haven't changed much over the years, but are still good for a laugh.

6. Bring a raincoat. Don't use an umbrella. In crowds, umbrellas make it almost impossible to get around. Plus, you'll save your friends and fellow fairgoers from eyeball pokes.

7. Set a limit for kids before you come. Monetary limit, food limit or toy limit. Try giving the kiddos a certain amount of money to spend and letting them budget it.

8. Take a lap around the fair before you splurge. On food, items or activities. You'll save money if you don't impulse-buy, and you'll still get to do the things you really want to do.

9. Buy the sheet of ride tickets for $40. You get 45 ride tickets, saving you $5. Most rides take three or four tickets.

10. Buy concert tickets at the box office near the Borealis Stage. Unless you are worried about the show selling out, getting the tickets at the fairgrounds ticket booth will let you avoid the online convenience fee. Fair spokeswoman Kristi Holta said they expect to have walk-up tickets for all concerts besides Shinedown tonight.

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