FALCON HEIGHTS (WCCO) — The opening day of the Minnesota State Fair is also known as Thrifty Thursday, and no one knows how to better stretch a buck than Isabel Burke’s Olde Tyme taffy. The tradition started 90 years ago at the fair.
“His prices were 3 cents and a dime,” said current owner Bill OZ, who took over the business in the 1970s with prices that seem like a steal by today’s standards. “When I joined the operation in the 1970s, a bag was 50 cents and a box was a dollar.”
So, today he continues the tradition of discounts on opening day with Thrifty Thursday, in the State Fair Blue Ribbon Bargain Book and beyond.
On opening day, “any customer can get a bucket for $2 off,” said OZ, but says he offers promotions throughout the 12 days.
Many of his customers will also save by getting in the gates with advance tickets.
Kevin Ward grabbed his at Cub Foods Wednesday night, the last night of the $3 discount on the adult ticket price of $12.
“It’s nice to get the discount, but I don’t think of it as being that expensive for what you get to experience,” said Ward.
“We always get a last-minute rush,” said State Fair Marketing and Communications Manager Brienna Schuette, who says other ways to save are plenty including two kids discount days on August 29 and September 5, two senior days on August 29 and September 1, a day to save with your library card on Read and Ride Day on August 31, and more.
“Also new this year, we have a military appreciation day on Tuesday the 30th,” said Schuette. “It’s the first time we have ever done this — if you are an active, or retired U.S. military service member you can show a document at the gate.”
Getting to the fair doesn’t have to cost you, with 34 free park and rides around the metro area, said Schuette. With only 9,000 parking spaces on the grounds, you can also fare for yourself on the side streets.
On the corner of Fair and Asbury, Nick Frandup and Tanya Nielson says most of the homeowners near Snelling will turn their front yards into pay lots, charging similar prices as the fairgrounds, around $12 a day.
“There will be spots available. Just look for people with signs, (they) should be walking around with parking signs,” said Frandup.
And if you really want to land that prime parking, definitely come in the morning, says Schuette. The early bird gets the best deal, and can avoid crowds on weekdays and late evenings.
One more tip: everyone loves a freebie. Schuette says if you go to the info booths at the fair, you can get a guide to deals, drawings and giveaways.