How to go to the 2022 Indiana State Fair on a budget (and still have lots of fun)

With this year’s Indiana State Fair spanning 23 days, buying admission, midway tickets and fair food for more than one day can get a little pricey.

If you’re on a budget but looking to maximize your time at the fair, there are several opportunities to claim free or cheap tickets. Once inside the fair, there are plenty of excursions and activities one can partake in to save their cash for more fair food.

Indiana State Fair: Here's what you need to know about getting there, parking

Here's how to attend the Indiana State Fair without spending too much money.

How to get discounted Indiana State Fair tickets

Some ticketing discounts are available online at Advance wristbands for the midway can be purchased at a discounted price. Wristbands can be purchased for $25 instead of the $40 gate price, but only grant unlimited access to rides on Wednesdays, Fridays and the final day of the fair, Aug. 21. Discount wristbands can be purchased until July 31 at 11:59 p.m. For families, a four-pack of tickets and one parking pass can be purchased at a discounted price of $40.

Another efficient way to save at the fair is to ride your bike there. Cyclists can save $1 on fair admission if they ride their bike. Free, secure bicycle racks are available off the Monon Trail, north of 38th Street.

On Aug. 3, admission to the fair is $7 upon presentation of a digital or printed voucher from Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Find the voucher on the BMV’s website at

On Aug. 4, Aug. 11 and Aug. 18, enjoy $3 gate admission, $3 midway rides and $3 food options at each food stand, presented by the Indiana Secretary of State.

Fair food: Bloody Mary with cheese curds, bacon, fried pickles. You trying it?

If you buy a copy of IndyStar’s Aug. 4 newspaper, you’ll find a free admission ticket to the fair on Aug. 10. The free admission ticket will also be available in the digital edition of the Aug. 4 paper, which can be found under the e-edition tab of IndyStar's website.

AAA members will receive free admission upon presentation of their valid AAA membership card at the gate on Aug. 17. One valid card is permitted per person.

First responders, current and former military and their families receive free admission on Aug. 19, with valid ID presented at the gate.

Free things to do at the Indiana State Fair

Watch the 1926 Model T Rapid Assembly: In the name of the State Fair's theme, "Celebrating Indiana's Automotive Excellence," stop by Enough Plaza on July 30-31 to watch the assembly of a nearly 100-year-old vehicle. Times vary.

Play some putt-putt golf: Bring a stroke of luck to the Corteva Agriscience Pavilion between 9 a.m.-9 p.m. for some mini-golf fun.

Dive into the Flying Fools High Dive Show: Watch stunning dives from up to 25 feet in the air daily at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Main Street.

Get cozy at the Quilting Hall of Fame: Despite the Indy summer heat, let the quilts in the hall of fame exhibit at the Indiana Arts Building warm your heart, starting at 9 a.m. daily.

Pounce on the 4-H Cat Show: Watch one of the hairiest competitions of the year at 11 a.m. on July 31 at Expo Hall, where both kittens and full-grown cats will compete for the prestigious Best in Show award.

Admire some woolly fashion: Strut to the Indiana Arts Building at 2 p.m. July 31 for the Make it with Wool Fashion Show.

Marvel at giant vegetables: With all the fair food to consume, it's probably for the best to at least look at some vegetables. See these epic veggies at 11 a.m. Aug. 13 at the Ag/Hort Shopping District.

Related: Indiana State Fair celebrates Hoosier agriculture with 18 featured farmers

Be amazed by the Mighty Mike show: Strongman Mighty Mike can bend pounds of metal, tear a pack of cards and juggle bowling balls and sledgehammers. Watch him and his tricks at 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily along Main Street.

Travel back in time at Pioneer Village: Complete with antique tractors, an opry house and a fiddle contest, Pioneer Village will give you the fantasy of being back in the 1800s. The village, located between Machinery Field and the MHS Family Fun Park, is open daily from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Check out the Speed: Science of Motion exhibit: Zoom over to the World of Speed at the Harvest Pavilion between 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily to test your potential as a Formula One driver in this brand-new ride simulator exhibit.

Sing along at a concert: Kansas, Jesse McCartney, Chaka Khan and Pat Benatar. Do you need anything more? Check out all of these legends and more at the Hoosier Lottery Free Stage. More information on performance dates and the rest of the lineup can be found at

A full list of free State Fair activities can be found at

Indiana State Fair $3 Thursday deals

Every State Fair Thursday in August — Aug. 4, Aug. 11 and Aug. 18 — is $3 Thursday, with $3 gate admission, midway tickets and, arguably, most importantly, deals at each food stand.

Here are some of the $3 Thursday food deals to keep your eyes on:

  • American Dairy Association of Indiana Inc.: Mint cookie milkshake

  • Ben's Soft Pretzels: Jumbo soft pretzel

  • Black Leaf Vegan: 8-ounce cup of mac and cheese

  • BurgerBob's Concessions: One hot dog

  • Charlie's: Half slice of pizza or small order of nachos

  • Deliplace: Italian sausage in hot dog bun

  • Eagle Food Service: 16-ounce iced tea

  • Gobble Gobble: 3-ounce turkey tips

  • Indiana Ribeye LLC: Corn on the cob

  • Jamaican Breeze Sports Bar and Grill: Small jerk chicken with slice of bread

  • Linda Chan's: Egg roll

  • Miss Piggy's: Corn dog or 6-ounce mac and cheese

  • Old Tyme Poppin Korn: Bag of popcorn

  • Papageorge's Inc: Quarter portion of gyro

  • Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips: Side of mushrooms

  • Red Frazier Bison: Bison lettuce wrap

  • Samanos Taquiera: Chicharrones

  • Sutter's LLC: Sample bag of taffy

  • The German Corner: 8-ounce red cabbage serving

  • Wilkes Concessions LLC: One cannoli

If you go: Indiana State Fair

The State Fair runs from July 29 – Aug. 21, 2022, with hours varying by day:

  • Wednesdays and Sundays: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

  • Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

The fairgrounds are located at 1202 E. 38th St.

For more information about events and activities, visit

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana State Fair: Your guide to free and cheap food, activities