Planning for Fall Festivals On A Budget

by David Sung

Fall is the perfect time of year – the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, the leaves are spectacular, and farmers are bringing in harvests of cool weather vegetables. It’s also the time of year for another round of fairs and festivals featuring apple bobbing, 5-k races, homemade crafts, and apple and pumpkin pies. Though festivals can be a comparatively cheap form of entertainment, costs add up after your sixth caramel apple. We have compiled a list of ways to prepare for the festivals, so that you can enjoy all they have to offer without harming your budget.

Eat before you go. Food that is sold at any venue where there will be hundreds or thousands of people will usually have a huge mark-up. This isn't to say, “don't try the apple butter made from a 50-year old family recipe.” Just eat before you go, so that you won’t be tempted to overindulge and over spend. If you eat at home, you will be more prepared to skip the hot dog vendors and only spend money on treats that are unique to state fairs and fall festivals – apple pies, cider, and kettle corn.

Take public transportation. It’s an obvious statement that public transportation is cheaper than putting gas in your car, but this is particularly relevant with rides to fairs and festivals. Sometimes these festivals are held at large venues outside city limits and can take a long drive. Additionally, regardless of where the festival is located, parking is always an issue. If everyone else is driving there as well, parking spaces will be quite the hot commodity.  You can end up paying large amounts for day passes. 

Limit the amount of time and money you spend at the festival. The more goodies you see, the harder it is to say no, especially if you have children. If you can get a list of vendors, then decide which you want to visit before arriving. This will limit the temptation, while also letting you take advantage of everything that is unique about the festival.

Take advantage of coupons and discount tickets. If you visit the website for the festival or your state tourism board, you can find plenty of opportunities. The same goes for local papers and weeklies. You might also want to consider signing up for LivingSocial.com, which will email you deals and discounts for events happening in your area. If you are taking a group of people, you may want to contact the festival coordinators directly to see if buying tickets in bulk will get you a cheaper deal.

There is no need to hide out in your home just because you are on a budget. There are plenty of opportunities for free fun and for discounts that let you into community events. If all else fails, offering to volunteer at the fair or festival can often get you in for free. In between coordinating the events, you can make the rounds of all the vendors, sometimes playing or eating for free. So, get out there and enjoy the crisp weather. We hope these tips have been helpful!

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