Check Out Your Local State or County Fairs

Each and every year we go to the MN State Fair on opening day. This is already a thrifty move, as there are so many deals that day (otherwise known as Thrifty Thursday). We always make sure to visit the Education Building, where we gather no less than 200 free pencils, pens, rulers, and other school supplies. I have not needed to purchase pencils for back to school in 6 years now. Plus, the kids and I have a blast seeing who can gather the most. They look forward to doing this from the minute we get home from the last fair until the next one.


They always hand out free fabric bags too, which work great for shopping bags for when you have to buy the rest of your supplies, or for carrying books and such as well. I don't think I have ever come home with less than 20 of them in a single year, so it is always well worth it to us.

By Freemommy from Shakopee, MN

July 14, 20080 found this helpful

Yup - summer fairs of all kinds are great for collecting pens/pencils/post-it notes/highlighters/bags and more!!Keep your eyes peeled! I have gotten sun screen samples, visors, keychains (&floaty boat key chains) and notepads and more, too!

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I also like to get samples when offered. But no less than 200 pencils, etc. is a bit extreme. This would not be a good example to set for kids.

At one time, we had two brothers in our Cub Scout group who were taught by their parents to "go for it" when anything was offered free. We had a terrible time stopping them from overindulging when we were out as a group.

We went to a baseball game and free baseball caps were available at the entrance. Their father had them go back and told them to say that they didn't get their hats so they would get more. We took them to get ice cream where you can make your own sundaes. You won't believe how much toppings they used. Their father cheered them on. It was unbelievable.

Maybe this was just a typing error, and that wasn't the amount you meant. There is nothing wrong with sampling but there is a limit to it.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I am a volunteer with an organization that gives out pencils, coloring books, crayons, water bottles, etc, at community events. We have a limited budget. In the past we have found parents & kids alike grabbing handfuls of these 'freebies.' Sad to say, many times we have run out of these goodies because of this greed therefore other children are left out. We have had to resort to either handing out the goodies one at a time or pre-bagging the items (causing an additional expense--the bags).

I agree that allowing children to grab as many freebies as they want is teaching the children how to be selfish, greedy and not caring about others. Will they continue to do this when they become adults?

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with the others, taking so much is not fair to others.

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Anonymous Flag
July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I have to agree with the rest. Being thrifty is one thing, that is not, that is almost like stealing from those who really do need it.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I have to agree with the others. Fun to get free stuff but in moderation so everyone gets a chance to get something free and fun. I teach my son that and he has fun making sure that others get things. It's fun for me to watch.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

I have to say, I have not ever been the Minnesota State fair. I have only been once to a state fair in NY and that was over 18 years ago. It was huge and the number of booths and vendors was tremendous.

So in fairness, I just went into the Web page for the Minnesota state fair and found out the following

"Now in its 145th edition, this high-profile 12-day fair features over 1,200 exhibit booths including 300 food vendors and dozens of media broadcasting from the grounds. Not to mention the barns full of animals, a carnival midway and a multitude of attractions for all ages. More than 600 free entertainment performances, a two-day rodeo, plus a Grandstand stage presenting internationally known artists such Brad Paisley, 3 Doors Down, Gnarles Barkley and Bonnie Raitt are also among the offerings."

Now with over 1200 vendors plus and the kids come home with 200 pencils. I don't think they went in with a vengeance and went berserk.

I think perhaps everyone here is being a bit judgmental on the whole matter. This is an excited Mom sharing and seems like everyone rained on her parade.

I agree that teaching our children the "Hoorah for me and heck with you" attitude is not the way to go, but in re-reading her post it doesn't come across that way.

I hope the kids have a good time at the fair each year and enjoy themselves. My Mom couldn't afford to take us to anything like that when we were kids. Have fun at the fairs this summer!

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

We go to this fair every year. This woman is not talking about the entire fair...just the education building. The colleges and non-profits who set up there have to pay for the pencils and's completely greedy to think that it's OK to take advantage of others this way. Where is respect for others shown in these actions?

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

Depending on how many kids this woman has, by the time she pays admission, for the kids to play some games, have some rides, food and drink, she could probably buy these items just as cheap at a dollar store.

It is wrong to teach kids to be greedy. I wonder if she has stopped to think about how many really needy people that can't afford the price of admission could use these products. If nothing else, these kids could be taught to share, by the Mother and kids taking a good portion of these items to a homeless shelter, or a home for abused women and kids.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

Wow! My first comment disappeared, so I guess someone saw fit to delete it as being too harsh on the author, and I take exception to having it removed! Perhaps we need to back off on being so "politically correct" and allow honest responses that encourage honest behavior!

This supposed "thrifty tip" does not advance the cause of saving money, but rather encourages inappropriate, greedy behavior by a mother who states that she and her children "have a blast seeing who can gather the most" giveaways which were meant to be distributed equally to all fairgoers.

It's neither clever nor honest to grab hundreds of pencils, pens, and rulers, and a couple dozen tote bags, as opposed to the one of each the vendor purchased (yes, purchased) for you to take as a gift.

And for "caraing", "CarrieStel"'s response is right on. There aren't 1200 vendors giving away samples. There are a relatively small amount of those vendors, many of which are non-profits or small budget organizations.

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July 1, 20090 found this helpful

Hello again, I guess I stepped in it. Huh? I was not implying one way or another on the greedy or lack of greedy. I am just saying maybe everyone is jumping up and down to quickly. I also stated I have not been this state fair and I have only ever been to one state fair in my life.

I was attempting to state that maybe this woman could be given the benefit of the doubt.I guess I stand corrected on the volume of vendors and the number giving items freely.

I was also guessing the kids are not counting the days to go again for free pencils but rather to have a blast at the fair and to have fun period.

My apologies to all involved if I over stepped and I will keep my nose out of it at this point.

On a happier note I wish you all a good night.

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

When I read this post I immediately thought this wasn't right to take so much, having your kids taking too when just one adult taking for the family would be sufficient. Someone is paying for this stuff and it doesn't seem fair if there's not enough to go around!

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July 3, 20090 found this helpful

Yes it does seem like we're all jumping on this woman but perhaps she didn't think through her post. It is almost like she's bragging about being greedy and teaching her children to be that way. I do think we should be able to respond to the posts freely.

Perhaps it would be good that the people giving out the freebies would have signs stating "one per person". I don't know how many children this woman has but sounds like they are each running around and taking way more than was intended. She admits to never having to purchase some of this stuff as school supplies and seems proud of it. Also, taking 20 of those fabric bags, come on....that's a bit excessive, don't ya think?

She just shouldn't have made that post if she didn't want to get the responses she has. I am sure that anyone reading it will see it as wrong to take so much and certainly is teaching the children the wrong thing.

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