State Fair on the Cheap

How to get every possible discount at the 2021 State Fair of Texas

How to get every possible discount at the 2021 State Fair of Texas

Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas
Discounts at the State Fair of Texas are still plentiful, but they've changed somewhat for the 2021 edition. Photo by Jason Hays

The State Fair of Texas, which starts its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 24, is coming back after a year off due to the pandemic, and with it comes the multitude of discounts the fair offers annually.

For the first time, general admission tickets will be tiered depending on the day of the week you go to the fair. Adults can get in for $15 on Monday-Thursday, but the price goes up to $20 on Friday and $25 on Saturday and Sunday. Admission for kids ages 3-12 and seniors ages 60 and older is $10 Monday-Thursday, $15 on Friday, and $18 on Saturday and Sunday.

Daily tickets can be purchased at the gate or online after September 9. A big change this year is that you must choose which specific date you want to attend. Tickets are only good for the date you choose, not any day of the fair. Be careful with your purchase; tickets are not eligible for reschedule, refund, or transfer. 

This year more than ever, you'd be a fool to pass up the multitude of discount ticket options available. With deals being offered by the State Fair and other entities, there's no reason you should ever pay full price.

Below are the many ways we've found for you to save money on tickets to State Fair of Texas:

The season pass
If you plan on going to the fair more than two times, individual season passes are the only way to go. Prices are $50 at BigTex.com and include one single-day Bring-a-Friend ticket, a State Fair reusable bag, a 10 percent off coupon for State Fair merchandise, and more. The upfront cost pays for itself on the third visit. You can get $15 off that price by entering the code 21valpakPASS through September 8.

If you want to buy food/ride tickets without waiting in line once you get there, you can also buy the $150 Season Pass 2-Pack Combo, which includes two season passes and 50 food/ride tickets (worth $50). You can get $30 off that price by entering the code 21mapPASS through September 8.

Unfortunately, food/ride tickets have increased in price from 50 cents to $1 per coupon. With efforts to be more sustainable, the fair is hoping the price increase will reduce coupon paper printing waste by 50 percent. If you have old coupons, don't worry; all old coupons will be honored at the new $1 value.

Go after 5 pm
If you can wait until after 5 pm to head out to the fair, you can save a good chunk of change, as everyone pays child’s prices once the clock strikes 5. The deal is good any day of the fair. No promo codes are needed; the discount is automatically applied at the gate and online.

Opening-day deals
The half-price deal on opening day continues, but it's a little different this year. Anyone who brings two jars of peanut butter to donate to the North Texas Food Bank will receive $10 admission at the gate.

Military/first responders appreciation
All active military, retired military, and veterans, as well as active and retired public law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and employees of other emergency services agencies, can save $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday) when they present valid documentation of service at the gate or online. Spouses of service men and women with a valid Military Spouse ID and accompanying children under the age of 18 also receive discounted admission. First responders receive up to three discounted admission tickets for their family members.

CultureMap code
We here at CultureMap are teaming up with the State Fair for a deal on the new Premium Tickets, which cost a bit more but offer the flexibility of coming any day of the fair instead of having to choose a specific date. By using the code 21mapCOMBO at BigTex.com, you will get $15 off the Premium Admission 2-Pack Combo price of $98. The combo includes two one-day tickets and 50 food/ride tickets.

McDonald's coupons
The next time you eat at Mickey D's, make sure to check your tray liner or bag for State Fair coupons. You'll find ones for $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday.) All coupons are only good for tickets purchased at the gate and cannot be combined with any other offer.

Dr Pepper Value Days
Visitors can purchase their admission ticket online for a reduced price of only $10 on Dr Pepper Value Days, every Tuesday and Thursday. Fairgoers must be Big Tex Insiders to receive the promotion code; you can sign up now at BigTex.com/Insider.

North Texas Food Bank Wednesdays
One of the best deals continues to be North Texas Food Bank Wednesdays. By bringing five canned food items, fairgoers will receive admission for only $5. All canned donations go to the North Texas Food Bank, which helps feed members of the community.

Senior steal
Guests age 60 and older had it made in the shade in past years, as they were able get a discount ticket every day. That deal is now gone, but they'll still have Senior Days every Thursday, when they can get in for just $5.

Thrifty Thursdays
Guests can save while snacking during Thrifty Thursdays, when participating food vendors offer one of their signature menu items at a reduced price, ranging from mini versions to regular-sized items.

Discounts on midway rides
Now designated as Thrilling Tuesdays, that day of the week is a great time to go to the fair. Not only can you get your $10 Dr Pepper ticket, you can save more inside, when all rides (except for thrill rides and the Texas Star) are discounted.