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How to be frugal at the Erie County Fair

The Erie County Fair starts at noon Wednesday at Hamburg Fairgrounds. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck so you’ll have plenty of money left over for deep-fried Oreos and a few games of I Got It.

• Buy your admission tickets today or Tuesday at Tops Markets at a discount. Tickets are usually $10, but you can get them for $7 for adults or $5 for seniors age 60 and older. Kids age 12 and under get in free every day.

• On opening day Wednesday, bring at least one canned good per person. You’ll get free admission and your donation will help the Food Bank of Western New York fill its warehouse with much-needed food for local families. You can take your donation to any fair gate starting at noon.

• Visit on special admission days. You can get in for just $2 on Wednesday, plus $2 parking; $4 admission and $4 parking on Thursday and $2 admission Aug. 16.

• If you’ve got a family that loves to ride the rides, make sure you schedule your trip for Aug. 18. That’s when the fair offers its 90 minutes of free midway rides, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• For $30, you can buy a flat-rate, all-day, unlimited-ride wristband to be used on weekdays. If you buy it today or Tuesday at Tops, you’ll save another $5.

• For weekends, unlimited-ride wristbands are $40, but they’re only available for purchase at the fairgrounds.

• For something a little more flexible, you can buy a Fun Card. It’s like a reloadable gift card for midway rides that can be purchased in any amount. Buy them at and you can get 70 credits for $23, which is a 33 percent discount. The average ride costs from five to 10 credits each.

• Firefighters Day is Friday. All firefighters and auxiliary members get in free that day with proper identification. Military day is Aug. 14. All active duty and veterans get in free with proper identification.

• Get there early on weekdays. Show up before 11 a.m. on Friday or from Aug. 15 through Aug. 19 and you’ll get in for just $5.

• Students age 13 through 22 with proper ID get in for $5 after 5 p.m. each day. Finally, sleeping late pays off for teenagers.

• You’re allowed to bring coolers, food and drinks inside the fairgrounds, so you really don’t have to spend extra money on food if you don’t want to (though eating at the fair can be half the fun). There are plenty of picnic areas at the fairgrounds.

Just don’t bring alcohol or glass bottles, because those aren’t allowed.

• Taste of the Fair is Aug. 15. More than 100 vendors will sell food items for just $2.

• If you buy a $5 commemorative souvenir mug, you can get $2.50 refills all day at participating vendors.

• There’s a concession stand near Kiddieland called Buck-a-Roos. Its menu has 10 kid-friendly items for $1.

• Visit and you’ll find 30 different food coupons that can be redeemed at fair vendors.

• Take in free music at the Gusto Grandstand Concert, 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 12. The Memphis Legends will play songs by all the greats: Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

• Download the Erie County Fair app. It’s free and has all the maps, schedules and helpful features you need to make your day easier.


Hey, food fans! Wednesday is going to be one of the best days of my life. I’ll be helping Buffalo News food critic Andrew Galarneau sample tons of food from all across the fair. Follow us on Twitter to watch it all go down.

email: or tweet @discountdivasam.

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