A Night At The County Fair – Memories are priceless

By glblguy

County Fair

Photo Copyright JennsPhotography

We decided to visit the county fair last night. We’ve gone over the past years more frequently then not and every time I go I continue to be shocked at how expensive it is.

We actually have a pretty decent little fair. There are lots of rides, food, and animals for the kids to see. Of course my kids love the rides, and my wife and I love the food! Did I mention how expensive it was?

Admission for all of us (myself, my wife, and our 6 children) was $28.00, which isn’t too bad, but that is just the beginning. Tickets for the rides are $1 each. Rides cost anywhere from 3-5 tickets. The little “kiddy”rides were 3 tickets, most rides were 4-tickets and the “big” popular rides were 5 tickets. Of course the more tickets you purchase, the cheaper they become. If I remember correct, 60 tickets were about $50. They also offered a “bracelet” that provides unlimited rides all evening for $15.00.

Being of the more frugal and calculating mindset now, we spent a good amount of time determining the best option. We calculated the number of rides each of the kids would ride and totaled it up. We decided the bracelets, even though we wouldn’t be staying real late were still the best option. Total for 5 kids $75!

This brought our total spent to $103.00 thus far. Not thinking, and subsequently kicking ourselves for it, we didn’t bring any water with us thus we ended up having to purchase a few drinks at *gasp* $4.00 a piece.

We ended up staying about 3 hours and honestly had a really good time. One thing that I think we as personal finance minded people need to consider is that the in return for the price we pay for something we often get more than just the service or item we paid for.

Our kids talked about the fair all the way home and while there I frequently heard them saying things like “remember last year when…” or “I look forward to this each year…”. I also watched as our 17 month old looked on in amazement at seeing county fair for the first time. The smiles and sounds of pure joy coming from her made me smile.

All of this made me reflect back to when I was child and my family would visit the local fairs where we lived. I remember sitting on the fire trucks, remember my favorite rides, and the wonderful taste of “elephant ears” (aka fried dough). Being the big kid that I am, I shared the “elephant ear” experience with my kids…they loved it.

Sometime in the course of the evening, I realized that the cost of something isn’t the only factor we need to consider in life. We created another memory last night and a memory that was well worth the price. I realized too that a visit the county fair has become a family tradition, one that extends back to my childhood. Trying to place a value on these memories and traditions is impossible and frankly just as waste of time.

I finally conceded that we were there to have a good time and that our evening at the fair was a memory my children will remember for the remainder of their lives. My hope is that they will carry forward our tradition and share it with their children. I also hope while doing so they can reflect back to our evenings at the fair, and maybe even share an “elephant ear” with their kids.

Even as frugal as we can be, I realized that sometimes we just have to set the money aside and enjoy the experience. The memories and family time we had last night were worth far more than the $130.00 or so dollars we spent. Memories are priceless and no mutual fund, 401k, or “hot stock” would ever be able to pay the return on investment we received from that $130.00 we spent last night.

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