4 Ways to Have Fun at the State Fair of Texas on a Budget

State Fair of Texas

If you read last week’s post, you know I was going to the State Fair of Texas! AND I WENT ON SATURDAY! I’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE! Actually, I can’t even remember the last time I went to a fair at all. I remember going to the one at the Longview Mall for 35 seconds to film a portion of our Don’t Stop Believing video but that doesn’t really count.

Even then…I was once told by someone in my family (whom I thought was my mom all this time and have been giving her credit…but now I don’t know who it was), “Don’t ever ride anything that can fold up and fit inside a box” (L O L). And I haven’t! Well, until Saturday!

The State Fair of Texas

When I was given the opportunity to go to The State Fair of Texas, I decided, “Why not???” Since I had never been before and am trying to live life to the fullest, I decided to try it out.

Everybody and their mom has posted a picture with Big Tex!

My Instagram feed is covered with pictures of fried this and fried that.

I LOVED ALL THE BRIGHT COLORS. Honestly, that was my favorite part and I was perfectly content just walking around and looking at everything. It’s bold and bright and looks like a clown threw up everywhere. Everything just feels happy and cheery.

If you knew/saw me in high school, you know this is right up my alley. I literally wore bright colored shorts every day with bright colored Keds…with a Spongebob “JUST ADD BUBBLES” backpack.

I am who I am, people.

Just wait until Thursday’s post because BOY DO I HAVE A FUNNY STORY TO TELL YOU. No story paints a better picture of my life than this one SO STAY TUNED because I promise it will make you laugh. And, it goes right along with the aforementioned hippie high school outfits *insert halo face emoji here*

In last week’s post I made the point, “You can save money while simultaneously finding ways to live life to the fullest.” You know I’m a bargain buyer and frugal so when I say it’s possible, I mean it!

I’m just going to shoot it to ya straight.

You can very easily spend one million dollars at The State Fair of Texas. There are coupon machines as far as the eye can see. And, because everything (E V E R Y T H I N G) requires coupons, you don’t even feel like you’re spending money…which is actually GENIUS on their part.

Well played, State Fair of Texas.

Believe it or not, you CAN have fun at The State Fair of Texas on a budget.

Some of these I knew beforehand but others I didn’t realize until afterwards and will have to implement the next time I go!

1. Use ONLY cash. 

Besides buying the General Admission ticket online (so we didn’t have to wait at the gate), I used cash to purchase coupons. I’ve been reading a lot about finances and have been applying what I’ve learned! AND IT WORKS, YOU GUYS.

You are less likely to overspend when you use cash because you can clearly see how much you’ve spent and how much you have left. This applies to shopping as well! If I know I need something (i.e. new jeans from Old Navy, per se), I take only the amount of money required for that item so I’m not tempted to overspend.

The rides demand a lot of tickets. For example, the Ferris Wheel (if you’ve never been) is 16 tickets. That’s a boatload of tickets if you ask me.

It’s obviously worth it because it’s the largest Ferris Wheel in the state of Texas…and I obviously loved it because I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. See below.

I know this picture looks like it was taken a different day but it was cloudy when we first got there!


This picture was taken on the Ferris Wheel! I tried to be artsy but, you know…I’m a blogger. Not a photographer. I cannot have my cake and eat it, too.

Have I ever been on a Ferris Wheel? I honestly don’t know. Maybe when I was a little kid? I remember going to the Navy Pier on choir tour and there being a Ferris Wheel. Did I actually ride it? I couldn’t tell ya. That was…11 years ago!? Bless.

Regardless, I’ve always loved Ferris Wheels BECAUSE OF GREASE.

So, if you love Ferris Wheels and want to ride the largest in Texas, just know it takes a lot of tickets (so plan ahead) but it’s 100% worth it.

I’m not going to lie, I used 5 coupons to see a 109-year old alligator with cataracts…but that’s my favorite animal and I’m not sorry I did it.

2. Take advantage of the FREE stuff!

There are a LOT of fun things to do at The State Fair of Texas that are F R E E. That’s my favorite word. Free t-shirts, free food samples, free hugs. You name it. Free is my middle name.

Kristin Free Koonce.

Just kidding.

MY ACTUAL MIDDLE NAME IS LEE! GET IT!? Instead of Kristin Lee Koonce…the frugal version of my birth name is Kristin FREE Koonce! IS THAT PUNNY OR WHAT!? I’M DYING! I crack myself up.

Anyway, they have FREE exhibits you can tour and we watched a FREE pet show. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. They had a chocolate lab which is MY DREAM DOG. They had dogs, cats, birds, parrots, a pig, and a porcupine…and they were all trained!? LIKE WHAT!?

If you’re an animal lover and you decided to go to The State Fair of Texas this year, you have to watch this show. IT IS SO CUTE AND YOU WILL BE AMAZED BY WHAT THE ANIMALS CAN DO. You will ask yourself, “HOW THE ACTUAL HECK DID THEY TRAIN A PORCUPINE AND THE BIRDS!?” I mean…I get the dogs and cats, BUT BIRDS CAN FLY AWAY??????

I’m not okay with not knowing the answer to this.

3. Choose your meals wisely. 

For lunch I had the Fried Macaroni and Cheese Slider. There’s an indoor food court somewhere (LOL, the fair grounds were ginormous so if you think I have any idea where anything is, you’re dead wrong).

When you walk in the main entrance, there’s a huge sign with a list of the 2017 Big Tex Choice Awards.

Although the Fried Macaroni and Cheese Slider was an award winner, I’m all about getting more bang for my buck. So, I’d recommend weighing your options.

Tanner and Shelby got corny dogs AND I WISH I HAD GOTTEN ONE. First of all, just look at Fletcher’s. It’s legit.

They are the ORIGINAL STATE FAIR CORNY DOGS and there have been MILLIONS SOLD SINCE 1942!

You’ll be happy to know I tried a Fried Oreo! At the end of the day, I got the Caramel Cream Funnel Cake AND OH MY GOSH. I can’t remember the last time I had a Funnel Cake. My mouth has never been so blessed. I think it was 14 tickets. The normal Funnel Cake was 12 tickets so I thought, “WHY NOT!?” and decided it was worth the 2 extra tickets.

They also had BIRTHDAY CAKE FUNNEL CAKE and STRAWBERRIES N’ CREAM. Those required a few more coupons.

I also tried the lemonade. It was the best lemonade I have EVER HAD. And I love me some lemonade. It tasted like a Lemon Chill…and those are one of my most favorite things to eat on Planet Earth. So, I definitely did not regret my decision.

I took a picture of this because THEY HAVE A RANCH SQUIRTER MACHINE. That’s all. Go and be blessed.

What I would do differently: GET A CORNY DOG FROM FLETCHER’S, hahahaha. You’re at The State Fair of Texas so I definitely agree with eating at least one meal there! But, I’d recommend figuring out beforehand what is most popular AND what will give you the most amount of food for the least amount of coupons.

As for the fried foods, you should definitely try something. I’d recommend each person choosing one fried food (i.e. Fried Oreos, Fried Snickers, etc.) and then splitting it up so everybody gets a taste of everything. BUT, this is a lot harder to do than it sounds BECAUSE you can only get certain fried foods in certain areas of the park. The best place to do this would be the back side of the park where the 2-Coupon water is but I didn’t realize this until after the fact.

It’s actually super overwhelming trying to decide because they really do have everything under the sun. So, I’d recommend deciding which fried foods you’d like to try beforehand so you can kill 3 birds (or 8) with 1 stone.

3. Get the 2-Coupon water and then refill your bottle at the water fountains. 

When my mom and I go to Six Flags, we always take advantage of the free water cups. They’re small, yes, but they’re free! AND, you can refill them. Unfortunately, they do not have free water cups at The State Fair of Texas.

There are water bottles at most of the large food carts but they require 7-8 coupons.

However, they do have water for only 2 coupons…BUT, you have to be patient because I didn’t see any of these kiosks until we got to the Back 40 (i.e. the other side of the fair).

Even if you’re not thirsty, I’d recommend going ahead and getting some because, again, I only saw these on the far side of the fair grounds. When it gets empty, you just refill it at the water fountains which are at nearly every restroom!

4. Appreciate The Lone Star State and all the proud Texans.

When I went on my writing trip to Jefferson last week, there was a t-shirt at the General Store with a picture of the state of Texas that read, “MOST LIKELY TO SECEDE” and I literally laughed out loud when I read it.

There were Texas flags EVERYWHERE (as they should be). They were on top of every ride and there was one on top of each Ferris Wheel cart, too!


I loved it so much.

It just doesn’t get better than Texas (no offense, non-Texans) and The State Fair of Texas was/is a good reminder of that. It makes you appreciate the hugeness and uniqueness of The Lone Star State that much more.

And can I just say that even this alpaca/llama (I don’t know what it is) wishes the weather would COOL THE HECK DOWN already.

Everyone should experience The State Fair of Texas at least once in their life. It is our public duty as residents of the state that is “most likely to secede” (HAHAHA, I’m not over that joke).

I’ll definitely go again next year!

I’m super thankful for the friendships I’ve made this past (almost) year/past few months. I’m also thankful for people who love adventure and are willing to go and do things.

Questions about The State Fair of Texas I need answers to:

1. How long does it take to put up and take down?

2. Where does all of this stuff go in the meantime?

3. How do you train birds and a porcupine?

What about you? Have you been to The State Fair of Texas? What did you love most? Do you have any suggestions for our readers?

STAY CONNECTED! Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

Related Posts:

Join the conversation!

Your email address will not be published.