December 27, 2011

Greatest Hits #2

It's so busy at this time of the year that I decided I'm going to count down the 5 posts with the highest number of hits, sort of a greatest hits type of thing. This should get me through the rest of the year, and maybe I'll throw in a few good freebies as I find them. If you came looking for Amazon shopping deals, you can find all the best information in my Making the Most of Amazon post above, or click on the Freebie link to see if there are any good ones still available.

And yet another Iowa State Fair post here for the #2 position.  This was my original Cheapout at the Iowa State Fair post.


I posted earlier about my love for the fair, and the Iowa State Fair is my all-time favorite. It's been featured in the book "1000 Places to See Before You Die," and I think it would take the whole 10 days to be able to see everything there is to see.  The fair can get expensive, so I want to show all the ways that you can do it for less.

 Cheapout on Ticket Costs
  • Kids 5 and under are free every day!
  • Half price admissions--the last day of the fair (August 22) and every day after 5 pm.
  • Pre-purchase your tickets and buy bundles online.  An adult admission to the Iowa State Fair is $10 this year, but only $7 if you buy them early.  I just went to look for the information on this, and TODAY is the last day to have the tickets mailed to you.  You can still do the pre-purchase, but you'll have to pick up your tickets when you get there.
  • You can also buy tickets at some Dahls and Fareway stores or purchase them through Iowa Lottery machines, though they will add a $1 "convenience" fee.
Cheapout on Activities
  • Skip the midway, and focus on the free activities.  There are more than enough free things to do at the fair.  If you do want to go to the midway, buy a Fair Play pack ahead of time.
  • Here are a lot of activities your kids can do beforehand to get excited about the fair.  There are coloring pages and scavenger hunts, or you can make your own list up.
  • Sign up for Blue Ribbon Kids.  It's free, and it allows you to gain access to more free activities.  Here's the list of Blue Ribbon activities.
  • The Paul Knapp animal learning center is my little one's favorite.  She's very young and still remembers the day we watched a litter of pigs being born.  They have expectant mothers of many different species having babies throughout the course of the fair, plus eggs hatching.  Even if you aren't able to witness the miracle of birth firsthand, they have tons of brand new baby animals and videos showing the births that have already occurred.  

  • We also love Little Hands on the Farm.  The children get a chance to go around a path and harvest crops, then turn their crops in at the market for a dollar, which buys them a healthy snack.  They also get a free hat.

  • Don't forget all the stage shows!  There are areas specific to kids, such as the Fun Forest, but the other free events can still be fun for kids.  Mine love the talent show.

  • There are animal barns all over, and you can certainly go through each and every one of them.  I love the Avenue of Breeds, because you'll see a few of each type of animal all in one place.  You can't forget the big boar.  That's where you'll find him.  The big bull will be in the cattle barn and the big ram will be in the sheep barn.
  • The DNR building has aquariums and an outdoor pond with ducks, geese and turtles.  They also have many fun activities and coloring pages.

  • There is also a free Petting Zoo (though you buy food to give them).

  • One last link to some more free events, the wild west show looks like a lot of fun.

Cheapout on Food

This really isn't all that possible, since the food is all expensive, but there are free food samples to be had.  There are also some less expensive and healthier options, though sometimes we save money on everything else so that we can have the money to spend on fair foods.   Here are some ideas:

  • Free samples at the Agricultural Building.  This is also where you see the Butter Cow, and it's a can't miss activity.  While you're there, get a hard boiled egg on a stick or try some ostrich meat.  There will be representatives from every industry with samples to taste.
  • For good food, your best bets are the Cattlemans tent for good, Iowa raised beef, or pork chop on a stick at the Pork producers booth.  Dinner Bell is great for homemade breakfast, and Stockman's Inn for a better sit-down meal.
  • This link lists all the foods available at the fair and where to find them.  There really are healthier options (The Salad Bowl) and some vegetarian options.
  • We all know why you're really going to the fair, though, so here is a list of all the foods on a stick at this year's fair.
  • Look here for a complete list of foods. 
Enjoy!  I hope to see you all there.

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