Here on the West Coast of Canada we have the PNE. That's the Pacific National Exhibition. This is a place for 4H, Superdogs, "free" concerts, trade shows, rides, games, and lots of food. It's been around since 1910 ... which means I experienced it as a child ;) The focus for most of us is to go on the rides, win fuzzy toys, and eat the mini-donuts / cotton candy / corn dogs; ... and maybe catch a Superdog show. Although Walter has been once before when he was a toddler he doesn't remember it. So this year was like the first time for him.
Going to the PNE isn't a cheap event. If you want cheap you draw out your own twister dots and play games at home. Having said that, we did our best to not over-spend ... which is no small feat. Before you even get in the door you have to find and pay for parking. PNE parking had gone up to $20 this year, but some friendly nearby homeowners rented their back lane parking for $12. Admission for adults? $16 CAD each. (Children under 13 are free - phew.) Unlimited ride pass for under 48"? $29.75. We managed to get in the gate for $61. Finding rides that Walter could go on (he's around 42" at the moment) was a bit of a test. The good thing was that many allowed a parent to ride along for free. Case in point, the mini roller coaster:
This meant we didn't have to put out for an over 48" pass for Dad (Mom - that's me! - is afraid of heights, and would likely toss her cookies on any kind of spinny ride ... which means 99% of the rides don't like me). An over 48" ride pass costs $42.75 (remember there's 12% tax on all this spending).
Walter thoroughly enjoyed himself ...
Even Dad enjoyed himself ...
Games weren't cheap. All seemed to cost a minimum of $5. We did five games - so that was another $25. $21 on a candy apple, mini-donuts, and a funky slurpee (mostly funky because it came in a tall, narrow re-useable cup). And we mustn't forget the PNE prizes - we had to buy tickets for that because after touring the PNE prize home we knew we wanted it!
The final cost:
$12 - parking
$61 - 2 adults entry; under 48" ride pass
$25 - games
$21 - food and drinks
$35 - PNE prize home and 50/50 draw
Total Cost: $154
No, not the cheapest family fun, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves which meant a lot. You certainly don't have to spend a lot of money (or any money) to have fun, but when you do don't regret it and make good memories while you do.