ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Vendors are getting ready for another year at the Alaska State Fair. According to fair officials, each visitor spends an average of $50 -- a total of $13 million over a span of 12 days.
While the fair prepares to make a profit, there are ways to get the most bang for your buck at the annual event.
“Tundra” comic artist Chad Carpenter has had a booth at the fair for the past 18 years.
“I've acquired a lot of loyal customers who want to come back and see a new book or calendar,” Carpenter said.
He's one of more than 450 vendors this year, and while it's an important event for vendors, the Better Business Bureau says it’s also important that visitors keep an eye on their wallets.
“Make sure you know how much cash you brought, and how much cash you plan to spend at the fair,” said BBB spokesperson Tara Sims. “That way, you dont walk away from the fair regretting how much money you spent.”
The savings can start even before reaching the fairgrounds in Palmer. The BBB says stopping by an automated teller machine ahead of time can save you both time and the surcharge for using one at the fair.
Instead of paying the full admission fee at the gate, you can buy discounted tickets at Costco and online. And if you do the research, you can find days that are easier on the wallet. On the fair’s first day, Thursday, admission is just $2 from noon to 2 p.m.
“My favorite tip is if you want to buy a concert ticket, go to the fair box office because you don’t have to pay a convenience fee, and you can buy any concert ticket on any given day,” said Dean Phipps, the fair’s marketing director.
Phipps adds that families don't have to spend to have fun: There's a growing number of free events, like a reptile exhibit.
“That was our most popular free attraction last year, and he's back with an all-new show,” Phipps said.
If it’s the rides that consume your dollars, Sept. 1 and 2 are the days for you. With a free Buddy Days coupon available from Holiday gas stations, admission on those days between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. is half off for two people.
“The buddy goes free at the gate if you have a coupon,” Phipps said. “And the buddy doesn’t need a coupon; if you buy a ride ticket that's good from 1 to 6 on both those days.”
Many of the vendors will offer specials as well.
“If you say the code word ‘Asparagus,’ you get half off,” Carpenter said. “All this stuff is going to be half off, all of of the sales things -- we're doing a half-off sale.”
But the BBB says most fair purchases can't be returned, so it's important to shop around and budget how much you spend.
“If you make a purchase more than $50, use your credit card because there are more protection policies for a credit card,” Sims said.
The discounted admission tickets can be used any day of the fair, but if you want to purchase ticket packs from Costco, make sure you stop by during store hours. You only have until midnight Wednesday to buy the discounted tickets off the website.
Contact Christine Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org