Fair Time

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    Sussex County-That great and wonderful event, The New Jersey State Fair, also known as the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show, takes place at the Sussex County Fair Grounds in Augusta, from Aug. 6-15.  The scents from the open air grills, the sounds of sizzling and frying, and the sights of huge dripping ice cream cones makes the taste of the fair irresistible. The horse show is breathtaking and shouldn't be missed. Yet the back section of the fair has the biggest variety of interesting things to do and see. Many people have complained that the fair has gotten expensive. Here are some money-saving tips that can get you through the fair without breaking the bank. ADMISSION: Children age 5 and under are always free. Advance ticket purchases will $1 off the child admission and $2 off the adult admission. Tickets can be purchased by mail, fax or internet by Friday, July 30. Go to www.njstatefair.com for all details. Family day is Friday, Aug. 6, when children 6-12 are free and adult admission is $7. Children's day is Tuesday, Aug. 10, and children ages 6-12 are $3. Every evening after 8:30 p.m., adult tickets are $7. Sussex County Appreciation Day is Wednesday, Aug. 11. With proof of residency and advance orders by July 30, the cost of child admission is only $2 and adult admission is $6. To avoid a $5 credit card charge on any advance purchases, pay by cash or check. Tickets can be picked up on Aug. 5. Go to www.njstatefair.com for more information, confirmation, details and specifics. Admission is free when you enter the antique car show, Grandma's Favorite Cookie Contest and The One and Only Blueberry Contest. In some cases, there may be a small entry fee into these competitions. If you are looking to save money, make sure the entrance fee doesn't exceed the cost of admission. Also, if you are knowledgeable in horticulture, working the flower show will gain you free admission as well. Check the Web site for details. FOOD AND DRINK:  Where you spend your money will make all the difference when it comes to food and drink at the fair. Unless you know where the values are, purchasing food can be extremely expensive.  Yes, it all looks good and smells great, and it is. If you are trying to save money though, the booths without all the lights and twirling signs are generally less expensive. A short distance away from the carnival is where some of the best bargains can be found. On the midway, you will find the home of a wonderful and affordable roast beef sandwich at the Branchville Rotary Club. The sandwich is $4 and another dollar gets you an iced tea. Or, stop at the Newton Rotary booth also on the midway and purchase a "Wurst" sandwich. The cost is $4, and a combo, consisting of a six-inch sandwich, corn-on-the-cob, and a drink is $6. Hot dogs are available at this booth for $1.25 each and barrel pickles are $1. For dessert, walk down the street across from the horse show entrance and in back of the livestock pavilion. This is the home of the 4-H teen council ice cream stand. Here, you can find ice cream in cones or cups, root beer floats, chipwiches and wonderfully thick shakes, all for only $2 each. The soft pretzels here are great and will set you back only $1. Another way to satisfy a sweet tooth in a very affordable way is to head into the Richard's building and purchase a few honey sticks from the beekeepers. The cost is just $1 for four sticks. Soft drink savings can be found across from these two buildings at the livestock pavilion building. Here, you can purchase a small souvenir insulated mug for $5 with 25-cent refills, or a large souvenir insulated mug for $8 with50-cent refills. Save your cup and bring it if you return, because these refill offers are good for the entire length of the fair.  Although these prices reflect last year's fair, all representatives have said that costs are expected to remain pretty much the same this year. Pack a cooler if you prefer. There are picnic tables located outside of Exhibitor's Gate 1, near the greenhouse. Packing a main meal, then purchasing a dessert or a refillable soft drink is a great way to experience the tastes of the fair while saving money. CARNIVAL:  Here are a few tips many people aren't aware of.  Free access to all rides happens on opening day, Aug. 6, from 1 to 2 p.m.  Sussex County residents can purchase advance tickets to be used on from noon-6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, for $11 per ticket. Tickets must be purchased by July 30, so plan ahead. Again, to avoid a $5 credit card fee, pay with cash or check.  There are many other pay-one-price times scheduled which offer savings without advance purchases. Visit www.njstatefair.com for all of the details. ATTRACTIONS: There is a lot to do and see that doesn't cost any money at all, and pre-planning can really help. Go to the Web site and search for a day that has the most shows and attractions that you would like to see.  Anything taking place in the performing arts tent, horse show, livestock pavilion, Richard's Building, barns and greenhouse are always free and are usually the most interesting.  The 4-H exhibitions, barn tours, flower and vegetable exhibits and lumberjack competitions are among the "must see" attractions.  The Richard's Building can provide hours of entertainment with the 4-H displays, art exhibits and home economics competition.  The antique car show, which takes place on Thursday night and the non-stop entertainment in the performing arts tent are wonderful and are free as well. It is worth a visit to the horse ring to see the draft horses.  Picking up a program of events and attractions once you enter the fair can be a big help in planning your day. BUDGETING:  Consider purchasing your admission tickets in June, carnival tickets in July, then dessert or a refillable soft drink at the fair. You will benefit by spreading out the cost over three months, which can be a lot easier to budget for. The fair is a wondrous place where you can ride a Ferris wheel, view incredible horsemanship, marvel at antique cars, visit livestock, experience the wonderful world of 4-H, see prize winning vegetables and flowers, and enjoy the Queen of the Fair competition. And it doesn't have to break the bank.