How to save money at the santa barbara county fair on redhead mom

It’s the summertime and that means that county fairs are going on all around the country. We recently headed to the Santa Barbara County Fair, which actually takes place in Santa Maria, and it was a lot of fun! We love to take our kids to the fair, but with 6 kids, it can get really expensive really fast! That’s why we use these tips so we can have a good time and save money at the fair. While this post is featuring the Santa Barbara County Fair, you can really use these tips to save money at any fair!

Go on Discount Ticket Day. A lot of times, county fairs will have different days with specials going on. The Santa Barbara County Fair has a Half Price Ticket Day (with $1.00 rides), a Senior Discount Day and a Military Day (free admission all day for Active Duty Military and Law Enforcement Officers).


This year, we went on the Half Price Ticket Day and it was great! Not only was it half price admission to get into the fair, but the rides were all $1.00 each (which was basically one ticket that day). The average cost of each ride was normally anywhere from $3 to $6 a ride normally!

Eat before you go to the fair. Fair food can get pretty expensive, so it’s a good idea to eat before you go to the fair. That doesn’t mean you won’t buy any fair food, but it will be less than if you went in hungry! We like to get different foods and then share them amongst ourselves. We especially like the pretzels, kettle corn, ice cream and hot dogs.

Fill up water bottles at the fair. Like any amusement park, water bottles are crazy expensive. For instance, we pay $2.79 for a huge case of bottled water at Costco, but at the fair, you’ll pay $3.75 for one of those bottles. While some fairs won’t let you bring in water bottles, we suggest you buy one or two at the fair and then fill them up at the water fountains around the fairgrounds so you don’t get dehydrated in the heat.

Get cash before you go in. While a lot of the food booths (and even the ticket ride booths) do take credit cards, there are food booths and the entrance booth at the Santa Barbara County Fair that take cash only. So be sure to visit your local bank, ATM or even get cash back at the grocery store before you go into the fair to avoid ATM and bank fees.

Visit the animal exhibits. First of all, these are free and included in the admission. Secondly, it’s a great way to support the young people in your community. I love that our local 4-H groups participate in showing their animals at the fair. Animals include hens, roosters, goats, sheep, pigs and more! The kids work hard to raise and take care of the animals and are proud to display them for the public to see. There were so many cute ones too!

Take advantage of free concerts! When we went, they were playing Smash Mouth (ya know the songs – “I’m a Believer,” “Walkin’ on the Sun,” and “All Star”). This was our boys’ first concert and they were stoked to be attending! They even got to go up on the stage – no joke!!! If the concert is going to be at night, be sure to bring a blanket with you. In our case, we parked in a parking lot fairly close to the fair and walked out to the car to bring the blanket in. So glad we did!!!