Enjoying the Iowa State Fair on a Budget

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image by lendog flickr cc scaled

As the Iowa State Fair dates roll around in mid-August, thoughts turn to fried candy bars and grandstand shows; turkey legs and trinkets. For every free form of entertainment, you’ll find ways to spend your money. But you can experience the Iowa State Fair without going broke.

Iowa State Fair Discount Tickets

Iowa State Fair discount tickets are available ahead of time online or in person at Hy-Vee, Dahl’s and Fareway grocery stores. Adult tickets for 12 and up are $8 in advance or $11 at the gate. Tickets for kids 6 to 11 are $4 in advance or $5 at the gate. Kids 5 and under always get free admission.

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Iowa State Fair Ticket selling point

We usually take advantage of discounted evening admission after 5 p.m. on weekdays. Adults get $5 off admission at the gate. We still have enough time to see the highlights but pay a lot less to get in. The $5 off discount is available all day the last Sunday of the fair.

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Adults will get $5 off admission at the gate after 5 p.m. on weekdays

Each year the fair has a few special days with discounted Iowa State Fair admission. The usual days are Veteran’s discount day for current and retired military members and spouses, as well as Older Iowans’ Day with cheaper entry for people 60 and over.

Cheap Fair Food

Every year new fair food is available, each a little more outrageous. Butter on a stick? It’s available. Trying all those new dishes on a stick adds up quickly. Check out the food offerings before you go. Choose the things that sound the best to try.

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Choose the things that sound the best to try and share with group

Split the food between the group so you can try more things without a lot of extra money.

Bringing in your own food or drinks isn’t allowed, but you can save on drinks with a reusable water bottle. Refill at water fountains to stay hydrated without paying $3 for a bottle of water.

lg the concessions stands along the grand concourse during the iowa state fair befaf scaled
Bringing in your own food or drinks isn’t allowed so bring your reusable water bottle – image by heatherosby.com

Iowa State Fair Entertainment

Many attractions at the fair are free with your gate admission. Check out the Iowa State Fair schedule to scope out all of the free shows throughout the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The options include live music, stunt shows, demonstrations and even outhouse races. The events change daily.

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Events change daily – image by smallstuffcounts.com

You’ll also find plenty of things to see in the livestock barns, cultural center, agriculture building and various other buildings.

Plan ahead if you have kids. They’ll see lots of rides and trinkets throughout the fair. Let them know you won’t spend any money on those things if they aren’t in the budget. Or limit it to one ride or a trinket under a certain dollar amount.

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Plan ahead if you have kids

Cheap Iowa State Fair Fun

With a little planning, you get a day’s worth of fun at the Iowa State Fairgrounds without draining your bank account.

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Having good time without go broken

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