Pima County Fair

People having a good time riding the Mega Drop ride at the Pima County Fair in 2013.

Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star

The Pima County Fair starts tomorrow. I can already smell the fried goodies and roasted corn. 

We have so much fun going to the fair, but it can cost a pretty penny, if we're not careful. Between parking, admission, food, rides and games, it's easy to spend well over $100 for my little family of three.

However, there are ways to go and have a great time without breaking the bank. First off, go on a day when there's a performance you want to see to maximize the value of admission. Big name acts such as Megadeath, Lee Brice and Bret Michaels are performing this year. There are also rodeo days and a demolition derby.

Try and spend a lot of time in the free areas, such as the art shows, Kiddie Kingdom and the animal barns. This is much easier to do if your kids are too young to notice the rides. 

Also, set a firm budget and only bring the amount of cash you want to spend. The $4 ATM fees ought to deter you from getting more money out.

Did you know the kids can earn a few free rides just by reading books? If they read three books and write a summary of each, they get a pass that's good for three rides. Click here for the form.

It's not too late to grab discount ride tickets at Fry's. You get ten rides for $10. This is a great deal, which saves you over 70 percent on carnival rides. You have to snag them today (Wednesday), though. And, they're only good Monday through Friday. Pair up your cheap rides with a free admission or $2 admission day and you can splurge on food!

Here's a schedule of the fair's discount days:

Thursday: Free admission until 3:00 with 2 cans of food to benefit the Community Food Bank.

Monday: $2 parking and admission.

Tuesday: $2 rides and $2 menu items from participating vendors.

Wednesday: $2 food and drink menu items from 4 to 6 p.m.

Sunday: Free admission until noon with 2 cans of food to benefit the Vail Community Food Bank.

Visit the Sunset Cantina Bar and Grill everyday from 4 to 6 p.m. for Happy Hour specials.

The fair runs from April 17 through 27 and is located at 11300 S. Houghton Road. 

Main gate hours are 1 p.m. till closing Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. till closing Saturday and Sunday. Carnival hours are 3 p.m. to closing Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to closing Saturday and Sunday.

Regular admission is $8; children ages six to ten $3; children five and under free. Parking is $5.

Click here to see a schedule of events.  

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at 573-4137 or apitteng@azstarnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @CentsibleMama or on Facebook at facebook.com/centsiblemama.

Families and schools reporter for #ThisIsTucson. Artist, photographer, mother of one.