Frugalfish Goes to the Fair

We were visiting with friends and they were raving over the fun they had at the Iowa State Fair. They asked me if I was going and I replied,

“I’ve never been to the fair, because I married a St. Louis Cardinals fan.”

They are huge St. Louis Cardinal fans and didn’t want their favorite team maligned. They harassed Mr. Frugalfish for not taking me to the fair.

In his defense, a large portion of our budget went to medical expenses while we were raising our children and we didn’t have many funds for entertainment. He does not have a farming background and just thought the fair consisted of rides. He also felt it would not be a good idea because of my allergies and the struggles I have with Ragweed during the end of summer and fall.

After we discussed it, we realized we could use vacation money and I could go on a round of Prednisone for protection against the allergens.

Then his uncle passed away. We would be 45 minutes away from the fair for the funeral. He decided to get an inexpensive room for that night and then go on up to the Iowa State Fair. (We wanted to spend as much time with his family while they were all in town.)

I called the doctor, and after promising not to hang out in the animal barns, he prescribed a short regimen of Prednisone.

Top 20 Ways I Saved Time and Money at the Iowa State Fair

1. Advance Tickets: Fareway, HyVee, and HyVee Drug Stores sold advance tickets at a discount. We did not decide to go until the fair had already started, but we ordered tickets online and print them at home, see

2. Free Parking: There are three sites that offer free parking; and then you ride a city bus in to the fair for $2.00. The bus fair is half price if you have a fair ticket, see here.

3. Go early: My mother arrived at one of the free parking lots at 10 am on Senior’s Day. She waited an hour for the bus both ways. We arrived at 8:30 am when the buses first started and did not have to wait. The traffic was also thinner and the trip took only a third of the time compared to Mom’s ride.

4. Go with friends: We met up with two couples that were camping at the fair. They asked me what I wanted to do and I replied, “Butter cow and eat something on a stick.” Then I saw the “Deep-Fat Fried Oreos” and wanted to try them. They came with 6 and we each tried one. I got the taste without making my self sick.

Deep-Fat Fried Oreo

Deep-Fat Fried Oreo

5, Drink Refills: There are stands that sell drinks in a sturdy cup that you could refill for a reduced price.

6. Keep the Cup: Ken & Jill still had a cup with a handle that they used at the fair the year before. They were able to get reduced refills all day long.

Fair glasses in which you could get reduced price drinks.

Fair glasses in which you could get reduced price drinks.

7. Share the drinks: It was so hot that the ice melted quickly and the pop went flat before you could drink it all. Ken & Jill shared every drink.

8. Share the meals: Twice we ordered one meal plus a sandwich. We shared the fries.

Share the fries.

Ken, Me, Mr. Frugalfish, Paula, and Mike share the fries.

9. Ride only one ride: I had not ridden in a fair ride for years and I really wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel. I let Mr. Frugalfish pick which one…he chose the double Ferris Wheel. Every time we came down off of the peak, the seat rocked back and I felt like we were free-falling. I screamed like a little girl. When I screamed, my friend Jill, screamed from the bench on the ground where she was sitting. They ran that ride twice as long because I was drawing a crowd. Ken took pictures of us and you can see the crowd laughing at me in some of them. Next year, I am going to ride a ride at the county fair to leave time to explore more at the state fair.

Riding Double Ferris Wheel and holding on to my hat!

Riding the Double Ferris Wheel and holding on to my hat!

10. Free entertainment: One thing Jill really wanted to see was the Llama Costume Contest. They had Llamas dressed as: a bride, soldier, cheerleader, Pocahontas’s raccoon, Olaf from “Frozen,” and a “One-eyed, One-eared, Flying, Purple People Eater!”

Cheerleader and Bride.

Cheerleader and Bride.

11. Be the entertainment: Another Llama attraction was the “Llama Limbo.” They had a few celebrities, like the Fair Queen, and volunteers from the audience who would limbo with a Llama. The Fair Queen’s crown was several inches tall and she was also tall, that put her at a definite disadvantage!

12. Join the choir: At 11:30 am every day they had a hymn sing in a replica of a church built in Dubuque in 1834. It was a good time remembering the songs my grandmother sang and practicing my sight-reading! Those harmonies are rarely heard anymore.

Hymn singing in the old church.

Hymn singing in the old church.

13. Find the liquidation sale: There were two tents full of merchandise from previous years at the fair. I picked up a Christmas present there. Souvenirs are half price on the last day.

Cup my friends got me from the State Fair.

Cup my friends got me from the State Fair.

14. Free concerts: We enjoyed watching a line dancing troupe while we ate lunch.

15. Check out the nooks and crannies: Our friends wanted us to see the telephone display. There was an old switchboard and an old telephone booth in the room. I walked through the door marked “exit” and found two more rooms. They had telephone equipment from every decade. Paula, who has camped at the fair for years, did not know about the two rooms in the back.

Off the beaten path.

Mr. Frugalfish leading Paula and I off the beaten path.

16. Free Samples: Be sure to pick up a free backpack from one of the booths at the Varied Industries building because there are free samples everywhere. We picked up ground corn at the threshing display that we will put out for bird feed this winter.

Sample of threshed corn that I will use as bird feed.

Sample of threshed corn that I will use as bird feed.

17. Free experiences: By the middle of the afternoon, we tired of walking around. Jill wanted to go to the massage chairs. They were amazing! The chair massaged your feet, back, legs, and arms for 5 minutes. They even had light therapy, but I missed that because I closed my eyes!

Enjoying the Massage chairs.

Ken & Mr. Frugalfish enjoying the Massage chairs.

18. Relive your youth: My daughter-in-law, who has shown cattle at the fair for years, told me not to miss the “Old Mill Ride.” It was like the tunnel of love. Between our three couples we were over 75 years. It might seem funny to want to ride that particular ride; but as Mike put it, “I always wanted to ride this ride with someone special.”

19. Skip the grandstand show: Some people walk through the fair only to attend a show. You can see a concert anytime, the fair only comes once a year.

20. Leave early: You want to leave before the grandstand show is over. We left during the time the show was on and there were buses waiting.

Ken, Jill, Mike, Paula, Frugalfish and Mr. Frugalfish enjoying a piece of homemade pie from the Methodist Church booth at the end of the day.

Ken, Jill, Mike, Paula, Frugalfish and Mr. Frugalfish enjoying a piece of homemade pie from the Methodist Church booth at the end of the day.

Ken put it best, “A thorough study of that days fair schedule will list many free events, concerts, performances, educational talks & displays, hands on instructions, and contests a person can participate in.  The fair is much more than just entertainment, it is a place to share with friends and learn.”

Why am I sharing this with you now?

If you want to go to the fair, you need to set back a few dollars every week starting now. If you skip one cup of gourmet coffee each week, and save that money, you will have enough to go next year.

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The Top Five Things I Like

New Balance Shoes

These made in America shoes are tough, sturdy, and supportive. The walking shoes are the ones recommended for post office workers who walk for miles on their routes every day. I order two pair of white shoes in the spring and alternate them each day. I order two pair of black shoes in the fall and alternate them, too.

My pumps and boots are made by their sister company, Avalon. They all have removable insoles that allows you to put in custom-made insoles. They offer shoes from narrow to 4E.

Not Your Daughter’s Jeans

Once you have a baby everything changes. After the second or third baby, most clothes look good only on the hanger! Throw in several years on Prednisone and you might feel like shopping in the maternity section. NYDJ to the rescue. They are cut different and have enough spandex in them for stretch and support. I love them.

St. Johns Bay Tees

My clothes are 100% cotton because of my sensitive skin. I love these tees from J.C. Penney because they have extra material where you need it without looking like maternity clothes. They also have a roomier cut for those who need larger than DD in that area. I have tried tees from other manufacturers, but they tend to bunch up around my arm pits. They end up in the Good Will donation box after a few months.

St. Johns Bay makes short-sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, and long-sleeve tees. They come in Vee neck, crew neck, and scoop necklines. Some are embellished and others are plain. I layer them in the cooler months.

Good Will

I can get the above brands at a fraction of the cost. I look for items with the tags still attached. People don’t want to take the time to return items when the size does not fit correctly. They throw it in a box for Good Will and I snatch them up!


I purchased one when I got tired of waiting for my turn on the desk top. At the time I was sharing it with my husband a two kids. It was not expensive. I can even write on those days that I am feeling under the weather. My favorite place to write is on the front room with a lap desk. I can look out the picture window to give my eyes a break and it’s nice to pop out the recliner on the couch!

I Write Because…

There will be more posts from me over the next several days as I am taking a Writing 101 course. I am starting a day late….but not a dollar short…because I was out-of-town yesterday.

Personal Journal

I write because I love Laura Ingalls Wilder books. That may not make sense to you, but she lived a normal life during her time on earth. She wasn’t a hero, but she recorded the day-to-day activities of her life and that of her husband. I particularly liked “Farm Boy” because being a farmer was so different than the life a farmer lives now.

Someday, someone might be interested in reading about my life. This is the reason I keep a journal.

I love reading the Bible because it is full of wisdom. You can read the story of the richest and wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, in it. He wrote three books sharing things he learned: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. The subjects they cover are wisdom, life, and sex.

I know, that last word caught your attention! The basics for business, government, and life in general are taught in the Bible.

I wanted to read the Bible in a relevant way. I designed a Bible reading guide, “Relevant,” where you read the chapters about Easter at Easter and Christmas at Christmas. You start the year reading about the miracles Jesus performed and by the time you are through the gospels, you are hooked on reading it.

This is why I publish a daily post about the chapters assigned to that day. I want to share what I learn each day.

(I also wrote a “Babysteps” Bible Reading Guide that takes you through the Bible starting with the shortest chapter, 1 verse, and ends with the longest chapter.) 

Money doesn’t impress me. Things don’t impress me. I’ve found those with the newest and latest gadgets are usually the ones the deepest in debt. Being debt-free and sleeping at night are important to me.

The only way to accomplish that is through frugality. You have to spend less than you make. You cannot waste anything. You have to be generous. You need to save a portion of your money. There are a million ways to do that.

Twice a week, I share how I am living frugally and debt-free. That is why I publish to this blog.

Those are the three reasons I write.