NC State Fair hacks: How to get in for free or cheap

The NC State Fair opens on Thursday. With money being spent on food and rides, saving a few...
The NC State Fair opens on Thursday. With money being spent on food and rides, saving a few dollars on admission could help stretch your budget.(Live 5/File)
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 7:21 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - The NC State Fair opens on Thursday. With money being spent on food and rides, saving a few dollars on admission could help stretch your budget.

Buying admission and ride tickets online, in advance will save a few dollars. Discounts are available for those buying through Oct. 13. Even if purchased online, ride tickets and admission purchased after Oct. 13 will be the same price as buying at the gate. Click here to purchase tickets.

From daily specials to special days, there are a few other ways to get in free or pay less for admission.

Daily Deals

Weekday lunch pass

For those who’s sole mission is fair food, the NC State Fair offers a lunch pass on weekdays. The pass allows you to bypass the cost of gate admission in the early afternoon.

Visitors can buy a lunch card for $10 in cash after 11:30 a.m. and as long as they return the lunch card by 1:30 p.m., they can get that $10 back. Leave after 1:30 p.m. and you’ll forfeit the $10. The card is only good for adults on the day its purchased. Food is not included. The card is only available at Gate 9 off Trinity Road or Gate 1 off Hillsborough Street.

Daily Military Discount

Active-duty service members, reservists, retirees, National Guardsmen and their dependents (ages 13-64) pay only $8 daily at the gate every day of the week. The service member must present proper identification at the ticket window. One valid identification is required per discounted ticket.

Veterans can get the same discount for themselves, plus one discounted ticket for a guest or dependent. Proper identification must be presented at the ticket window.

Acceptable forms of I.D:

  • Valid Uniformed Services ID
  • Valid Common Access Card (CAC)
  • Valid North Carolina Driver’s License with Veteran Designation
  • Valid Veteran’s Affairs Health Identification Card
  • Photocopy of valid DD-214 Form
  • Photocopy of valid NGB-22 Form

Special days

Primetime with the Pack

Student discounts are available for NC State students on opening day. ‘Primetime with the Pack’ will save students $5 off gate price for an admission cost of $8. Students must bring their NC State student I.D. to get the discount.

Senior Citizens’ Day

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, seniors ages 65+ get in for free and get a small breakfast. Beginning at 9 a.m., Bojangles’ biscuits and coffee will be served on the Dorton Patio near the Waterfall at the Senior Fun Fest presented by Humana. Supply will be limited.

Accessible parking is available on a first come, first served basis outside Gate 10. Overflow parking and overflow handicap parking are available at Carter Finley Stadium (Gate A). Trams will be available to move fairgoers from the parking lot to Dorton Arena.

Any other day, seniors ages 65+ can get in for $5.

Smithfield Foods’ Hunger Relief Day

On Thursday, Oct. 20, visitors can get in for free in exchange for bringing six cans of food to the gates. Hunger Relief Day began at the N.C. State Fair in 1993. Since then, almost 6 million pounds of food have been donated to the food bank through the drive.