Indiana State Fair Experience Budget Tips and Tricks

Tips for the Indiana State Fair

So, we earned an entry (free ticket) to the Indiana State Fair with a 4H Exhibit on Small Engines. What's to do at the State Fair? Well there's lots of things to do at the Fair. It isn't just all amusement rides and games. There are so many things to do that you could spend all day there... if you could stand the heat or the walking and had a pocket full of cash! If you have lots of one dollar bills, you can ride the train every time you needed to get somewhere. Well, you could, if you could find a seat. You can enjoy the State Fair on a budget with these Indiana State Fair tips and tricksEnjoy!

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Indiana State Fair Experience Tips and Tricks
Indiana State Fair Experience Tips and Tricks.

How do you enter the Indiana State Fair? Well, there are several ways. You don't have to be a 4H member or a kid or even (as it turns out) very skilled. You do have to jump through some paperwork hoops.

In the past, every entrant got a parking pass. Not so in 2016. It is my understanding that the fair is under new management. Much has changed. Be prepared. Want to sit down in the Coliseum and enjoy the animals while you cool off? That's fine, but that'll be $5. Good luck figuring out where to buy tickets.

Want to find out information at an information kiosk booth? You can ask, but don't count on accurate information. They don't seem to have a clue what is what or when it takes place. So, when they tell you the train is free all day... Yeah, that  doesn't sound right. Read the signs on the booth. Read the signs on the train. The person in the booth likely knows less than you do. Assuming you are a reader. Sometimes, it is FREE for Some, but not EVERYONE. For example, there are free days for Senior Citizens, Veterans, and those in the Military. There are also discount days.

Want to drink pop? That's $3.00 a 'pop' for a small with ice. Bring your own! You can get a State Fair Souvenir Cup for $5 with $2 refills around the fair. I'll let you in on a secret. Every year, there's a big barrel which is a booth for beverages. This is the best deal. You'll get a giant cup for $3 and they refill it too for a price... I think it is also $2. Bring your own water bottle. Fill it up in at the fountains in the buildings. Save!

Want to make something really cool for really free? Take the kids downstairs in the 4H building. They can choose which part of a wooden train they'd like to make. Make a new one each time you go, and you've got an adorable wooden train. Thanks 4Hers!

Go to the State Fair on $2 Tuesdays. Parking is $5, but there are $2 deals on everything else. All rides are just one $2 ticket. If the rides says it takes 3 tickets, it only takes one! So, for $20 you can ride 10 rides Just be clear when you hand the ticket booth person your $20 that you want $10 worth of tickets, not $10 worth of rides. I messed up that one. Every food vendor offers something for $2 on $2 Tuesdays, so if you play your cards right, you can get a nice fair meal for $6-8.

The best $2 deal is at the dairy barn. A shake is only $2 and it is more than enough to share.

I let Jake ride this by himself when he was 6 or 7 because he was tall enough. Bad idea! He slid in the seat and nearly passed out. This time, at 12 yrs. old, we we're both worried. It was nothing. No fear. He takes up the whole seat!!!

Mayhem isn't a fan of rides, but she likes this one enough to ride by herself!

Who hates the Tilt-a-Whirl? Me! So, Grandpa had to ride.
Those Teacups in the kiddie section are even worse!

Not my favorite ride. Feels very unsafe. If you let go, you'd fall down.

This is like the Mousetrap game. Fun ride, but very rickety! Mayhem isn't a fan.

Visit the Visit Boy Scouts of America Base Camp Boy Scout area for surprising activities that are mostly free. Some require a waiver, that's how you know they are awesome activities. You'll get freebies here too.

Near the Boy Scout area is nature area. Freebies here too.

Grab your Take-Out Garden Kit for Kids at the Green House.

Visit the Family Fun Park and The Little Hands on the Farm (kiddie farm) area and the kids will get to "shop" for snacks at the end. They can choose free milk, apple juice, apples, and more.

Take the Wonder Trail maze in the new barn and fill out a form for a coupon at the dairy barn. Get all the answers right and win something (usually a baseball cap). Play the Soybean Scavenger Hunt in the Glass Barn

Visit Hook’s Old Fashion Drug Store to see the historical artifacts and exhibit.

Free Stage.

Free animal viewing.

Free fishing lesson at the DNR.

Visit the Hatchery for Ducks and Turkeys in the Northwest Pavilion.

Get a free popcorn snack in the Farm Bureau Building.

Visit the Taste of Indiana exhibit in the Farm Bureau Building and sample Indiana commodity food.

The best food deals are inside the FFA Pavilion (mini-golf barn). Toward the back, there is ice cream and the cheapest bottled water.

We've been going a few times a year, for the last several years. So, we've got the skinny on the fair. If you do go on a Tuesday, make sure you go after 2:00. School's have fair field trips. Stay out of that mess.

Also, if you go midday, you are likely allowed to park where you want and can take advantage of the upfront spots left from earlier visitors leaving. We like to park at the Deaf School off of 42nd Street.


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How to Enter the Indiana State Fair

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Lora is a homeschooling mom, writer, creator of Kids Creative Chaos, and Director of the Play Connection.