Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Frugal Family Fun at the Fair

I think for most people, finances are always an issue of consideration when contemplating family activities, and certainly we are advised to be wise stewards of our resources. So, sometimes it's necessary to get a little creative in finding ways to spend fun family time without blowing the budget. In this post, I thought we might explore some ways to do that at a seasonal event . . .

Fall fairs are fun -- but they can get pricey by the time you add together admission fees, food, games, and rides for even a small family. A few years ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to join a committee for our local fair. The return? Free admission for myself and my children ANY time during the 4-day fair, two admission passes to share with family (getting my DH AND Mom in for free, too), an invitation for me and a guest to attend a banquet, and BEST of all -- an evening of free fair rides!

DS3 playing along with the guy running the ride, who threw his hat in DS's car and pretended that DS was driving so fast that his hat flew off.

Daddy rides are still the best!

It means having to devote a few hours here and there throughout the fair season (in my case, it involves such things as group planning of project ideas, cleaning display cases, accepting projects from submitters, setting up and tearing down, making and supervising displays) -- but, at least with our fair, I can sign up according to my availability and family circumstances. The work I have to do is not hard, and is actually fun when accompanied by fair friends, with whom I have the opportunity to build a bit of a "fair history" as the years go by. This year, DD13 was able to join me as an official committee member, so it has become something that she and I can turn into a tradition as well. We have fun serving our community together, and she learns valuable lessons about committment, responsibility, and doing a good job -- even if it's something yucky like cleaning up mouse poo in cabinets that have been stored in a barn!

If this sounds like too much of a time committment, another option is simply to make entries at your local fair, which usually yields some financial benefit. At two of our local fairs, entrants receive at least one free admission pass when they submit an entry to one of the fair judging categories. Besides being a fun way to spend time preparing the project(s), there is the added bonus of potentially winning a ribbon and some prize money. If all family member submit an entry, then it's possible that everyone could at least gain free entry to the fair.

First-place entries in the Youth Class division a few years ago, when the theme was "Harvest Time".
Alternatively, and even more simply, some fairs allow children in for free if they simply complete a fair colouring page. How easy can you get? It's worth investigating what options are available!

While it might seem like it based on this post, we don't actually live "in the country" -- so I would encourage even you city folk to look for local fairs in which your family might become involved. Within a half hour of our home, we can participate in a wide variety of spring, summer, and fall fairs, so I suspect that might be the case for many others. In addition to being lots of fun, they are wonderful learning opportunities! (That could be a whole other post:)
Now tell me -- have you found some other creative ways to have some frugal family fun at local fairs? I would LOVE to hear about them! Please share your ideas in a comment.

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