Disclosure :: This post is brought to you by our sponsors at the Wisconsin State Fair. Our love of food on a stick, pig races, and saving big money on big fun is completely our own.
There’s so much to love about the Wisconsin State Fair, the best eleven days of every summer in the entire state! It’s no secret that we love the fair around here. Check out our Family Guide to the Wisconsin State Fair for the inside scoop on all the activities, hot-spots, and timeless classics. Plus, factor in all the food on sticks, craft beer, and live music, and you’ve got the perfect setting to enjoy summer in all its glory in one spot.
But if we’re being honest, we can all agree that a day out at the Fair can start to feel a bit painful on the pocketbook if you aren’t careful. We all love indulging, but we also need to make sure we are being budget-conscious at the same time because #ADULTING.
Never fear, friend. We are here with the Insider Scoop on ways you can save big at The Wisconsin State Fair! Use these tips and tricks to maximize your enjoyment while minimizing your expenses.
When it comes to Deals & Steals at the Wisconsin State Fair, it basically boils down to these categories:
- Getting There and Getting In (Admission Deals)
- Cheap Thrills (FREE and Cheap Activities)
- Value Menu (Food!)
Travel & Parking
You can save $12 before you even enter the gate with these great parking hacks and deals! Avoid restricted routes, traffic, long lines, and frustration by leaving your car at home.
Live a reasonable distance from the Fair Grounds? FREE bicycle parking is available in lots near the U.S. Cellular Main Gate and Gate 2 at S. 81st Street and W. Greenfield Avenue. Strap on your helmet and pedal to the Fair to get the best and FREE parking spot.
Milwaukee County Transit System or the Fair Shuttle Park & Ride are super convenient, affordable, and stress-free ways to get to the Fair. Check here to find the nearest pick-up spot to you as well as the fare information.
If you are new to UBER, you can score a FREE ride! Use code WISTATEFAIR18 and you will receive your first ride FREE up to $15 (new users only). See our guide for more information on riding UBER to the Fair.
If you really want to take your car to the Fair but you don’t want to pay the $12 for General Parking, you can try your luck in finding a spot in the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Many residents will offer up their lawns and driveways to fairgoers for a range of fees, depending on their location. If you have great parking ju-ju, you might find a spot on the street, but that could severely limit your Fair time, depending on any parking limits or restrictions in the area.
Children five and under get into the Fair for FREE. However, youth ages six to eleven pay $8 a ticket and general admission is $14. Luckily, the Wisconsin State Fair has lots of ways to save on admission. Also check out our guide to enter to win a four-pack of admission tickets by July 29, 2018.
We have been known to take off work for Kohl’s Family Value Day to enjoy the Fair in all it’s family-friendly goodness. From 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. all children eleven and under get in FREE and all adults enjoy a reduced ticket price of $6. For those of us doing the math, that’s an $8 savings per entry over the age of five!
On the opening day of the Fair, get $2 admission when you donate at least two cans of pears or peaches or make a cash donation to the Hunger Task Force outside any Fair admission entrance.
Guests will receive a voucher redeemable at the ticket window for $2 admission from 8 a.m until 4 p.m.
New to Wisconsin or just visiting? Get two adult admission tickets for $14 when you present an out-of-state ID at any admissions window.
Save your receipt when you spend $30 or more at Wisconsin Meijer stores between June 30 – August 8. Show it at any admission gate before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8th to save $4 on one adult admission.
Present a Military ID (DD214, VA ID, Military Common Access Card, or Dependent ID) at any admission entrance from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and Veterans and military personnel will receive FREE admission for themselves and up to three family members courtesy of Miller High Life (limit of four free admissions per ID).
FREE Family Fun
Once you get onto the grounds, you can easily stay busy all day without spending a dime. There is no end of fun, FREE entertainment and activities for fairgoers of all ages!
The Kohl’s Activity Zone is the place for crowd-pleasing, hands-on activities for the whole family. It’s located on South Grandstand Avenue, and is open at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Try all of the following interactive attractions:
- Kohl’s Color Wheels, an art-making experience presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum
- Kohl’s Design It! Mobile Lab, create unique hands-on projects highlighting design with Discovery World
- Kohl’s Wild Theater, conservation-themed theatrical performances from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee
- Kohl’s Building Blocks Program, a Penfield Children’s Center program that promotes the health and positive development of children and celebrates their unique abilities
Sea Lion Splash is the only traveling sea lion show in the U.S. Each thirty minute show will educate about marine wildlife and conservation while also entertaining the audience with incredible tricks and humor. Daily shows are at 12:30, 3:30, and 5:30 p.m. on South Grandstand Avenue.
Exploratory Park on the south side of the Fair Park features a free playground area, which immediately had our attention. Outdoor enthusiasts can visit hands-on stations for kids of all ages to learn about fish and wildlife, as well as see Smokey’s School House. Visit the far south end of Exploratory Park to learn all about the Fair’s 167-year history.
Walking through the animal barns and marveling at the farmers hard work is one of the true joys of a day at the Wisconsin State Fair. In addition to the individual animal barns, visit the Discovery Barn to see baby animals and learn about Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.
Come cheer on your favorite pig at the pig races, a Fair classic! They race seven times daily at 10:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 7:30 p.m. on Second Street and Badger Avenue.
Gardeners and crafters take delight! Visit Grand Champion Hall for all things horticulture, craft, and culinary. See stunning floral arrangements and stage presentations in addition to exquisite art and culinary exhibits. There will be special floral activities on Saturday, August 4 and Friday, August 10. Stop in for live food judging on Friday, August 3 and Sunday, August 5.
Check out the daily parade to see the Fairest of the Fairs, your favorite street entertainers, mascots, tractors, marching bands, and much more! Longtime fans of the parade should note that it starts at 2 p.m. and has a NEW route. See any Information Center for details.
Dog lovers rejoice in the K-9 Sports Arena! If you’ve never seen dog dock diving, you are seriously missing out. The show also features frisbee, agility courses, and Police K-9 units. Catch these demonstrations hourly on the half-hour on weekdays with additional shows on weekends.
Many vendors offer a regular schedule of free live music and entertainment. It’s hard not to dance your way through the grounds! For a steady lineup of family entertainment, head to the Wilderness Resort Family Variety Stage located on Wetley Way in the Big Backyard.
There are three exciting, NEW, FREE attractions this year!
- On Saturday, August 11 at noon at the Associated Bank Amphitheater, the first-ever Wisconsin State Fair World Cheese Curd Eating Championship will take place. Major League Eating and the Fair bring us the competition, featuring world-champion competitive eater, Joey Chestnut. Get your squeak on!
- The Cow-Temporary Art Walk, a tour of cow-and-Fair-inspired art work throughout the Fair Ground, gives Fairgoers the opportunity to visit all the stops and take home a prize! Pick up a punch card and prizes in the lobby of the Exposition Center near the Young People’s Art Exhibit.
- The Packers are celebrating 100 seasons by bringing Lambeau Field Live to the Fair! This attraction brings tons of awesome FREE fun for Packers Fans, like alumni meet-and-greets, a satellite Packers Hall of Fame, a Lambeau Leap wall, Play 60 activities, and a virtual reality display and Associated Bank’s Interact With The Pack Experience. Find it on the west side of the Fair Park near the Racing Animals Arena.
As you can see, the Fair is a premier destination for quality, free entertainment. We thought we’d take it up a notch with a FREE scavenger hunt you can print or save to your phone. It’ll be a great way to get everyone excited to try all the Fair has to offer! Download it here!
Cheap Fun & Activities
Some Fair fun comes with a price tag, but we’ve got you covered on having a blast on the cheap.
Buy a Bargain Book to score deals at SpinCity. It has you covered on merchandise and food discounts, too.
SpinCity draws kids in like a moth to the flame, but can also burn through your cash pretty quickly. For $40, you can purchase a GoRide wristband and enjoy an entire day of rides in SpinCity. Wristbands are good for unlimited rides until 9 p.m. on the day of purchase, and can save you a bundle.
The Pig Slide, located on Wetley Way by the Swine Barn, is an inexpensive, adorable attraction. Your child (or you) won’t be able to go down just once.
The Giant Slide is celebrating it’s 50th birthday this year! For $2.50, squeal your way down this 200 foot slide.
Get a bird’s-eye view of all the action on the SkyGlider. One-way tickets are $4.50, and round-trip is
$7. It’s a great way to take it all in while escaping the crowds.
The Expo Building can be a cheap place for excellent people watching and wandering. Just be sure to do more exploring than buying! What great new product can you discover this year?
Deals & Coupons
Oh, the many tastes of the Wisconsin State Fair! As we discussed here, Fair food is SO. GOOD. But all these culinary delights can take a toll on your wallet, so take note of these ways to save while you savor.
The Bargain Book is loaded with deals on food, sweets and beverages.
Fair food lovers should head to the Fair on Tuesday, August 7th for Crazy Grazin’ Day. More than fifty food vendors offer smaller sized portions of your favorite Fair foods at reduced prices.
Hang around the Wisconsin Products Pavilion for the demos! More often then not, they offer free samples.
Thought July 31, you can pre-order a 6-pack of Cream Puffs for $18. You’ll get a voucher which you can later redeem at the Fair.
There are so many delicious things to eat and drink at the Fair that you’ll leave will a full belly, but not an empty wallet. Here are some of our favorites.
Milwaukee Bucks Milk House sells ice cold, delicious glasses of milk in a variety of fun flavors. One glass will set you back fifty cents, so go nuts and try all five!
Roasted Corn lets you savor the best that summer in Wisconsin has to offer. There are many different stands to choose from and diehard Fair fans will swear by one stand over another, so you might have to try them all to see for yourself.
Want a filling meal on the cheap? Head to the Wisconsin Products Pavilion for a loaded baked potato. Hearty, satisfying and flavorful but not at all expensive!
The best deal on drinks at the Fair can be found at the Wisconsin Wine Pavillion. Located just down the road from the Giant Slide on Central Avenue, this hidden gem features all Wisconsin wines. You can purchase tasting tickets to try a TON of wine for one low price, PLUS you get a HaloVino wine glass to keep!
The Wisconsin State Fair makes it so easy for families to come and celebrate our state together without spending a fortune. From admission deals to free activities to food bargains, everyone can enjoy the Fair without breaking the bank.