Visiting the State Fair on a Budget

8/5/2019 Sarah McCandless and Misty Shaw

People from across the state of Illinois are heading to Springfield this week as the finishing touches are being put on the 2019 Illinois State Fair. If you’re planning to head out to the fair to eat your weight in deep fried food or catch a concert by one of your favorite artists, you’ll want to take advantage of our tips to help you save some cash.

1. Parking


Consider parking offsite. While this results in a farther walk, it’s usually a little bit cheaper and you can use it as an extra opportunity to log some extra steps on your Fitbit! Another alternative is to consider splitting the cost of parking one vehicle with friends.

2. Admission


Take advantage of opportunities for discounted entry into the fair. Free admission is available on certain days for senior citizens, veterans (and their immediate family members), police, fire and EMT professionals with valid IDs. Also, remember that children under 12 are free any day. The first and last days of the fair also offer discounted admission for anyone. Here's more information on discounted admission days.

Another lesser known tip is that you can also purchase discount admission booklets – these booklets costs $60 and provide eleven 1-day adult admissions. If you and your family won’t use that many admissions, split the cost with a friend – that’s a huge savings from the normal $10 adult admission price!

3. Food

You can’t go to the state fair without indulging in fair food. Most portions are rather large, so one way to save money is to split items with friends (i.e. one person buys the nachos and the other person buys the funnel cake). You could also consider packing a lunch and heading back to your vehicle to save money. Bring your own water in so that you can stay hydrated without having to pay too much for water. You’ll also find discount coupons on the back of maps and brochures throughout the fair.

4. Free Fun

There are plenty of free activities to take advantage of at the fair. Here are some of our favorite ways to have fun with your family:

FFA Petting Zoo
Livestock / 4-H Exhibits
Harness Racing (Illinois has one of the fastest dirt tracks in the world!)
Conservation World (fishing pond for kids, demonstrations and interactive exhibits)
Free concert stages and talent competitions
High-Dive Show
Dairy Barn (don’t forget to check out the Butter Cow!)

More information on activities, as well as complete daily schedules can be found on the State Fair’s website. We hope you and your family have a great time at the 2019 Illinois State Fair!



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