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How to save money on carnival rides and admission at the Santa Barbara County Fair

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jul 06, 2023

A family of four can expect to pay roughly $150 for admission and two carnival wristbands at the Santa Barbara County Fair this year, but organizers say you can save money by planning ahead.

On Thursday, more than 300 maintenance workers, vendors and fair officials were in action getting the Santa Maria Fairpark ready for opening day.

“It seems like it might be quiet behind the scenes, but it is a rush of activity. Just worker bees everywhere putting all of the things together,” said Casey Douglass, Fairpark Public Relations Manager.

“It is not just something where you come in on a Monday and open on Wednesday. We have been here for weeks and have been preparing for this for about 10 months,” added Davey Helm, Helm & Sons Amusements.

Helm says this year, while thrill seekers can expect the usual favorites like the Zipper and Himalaya carnival rides, you should be ready for some new additions.

“We have over 25% new rides, new attractions, new shows. We have the world’s tallest portable one-trailer ride called 'Medusa,'” Helm said.

Wristbands for unlimited rides on Medusa, as well as the other coasters at the Fairpark, will cost you $45 at the gate. Both Helm and Douglass gave us some pro tips on how to get more bang for your buck.

“If you pre-purchase the carnival wristband it is $35 up until July 9th. That will save you on having to buy individual tickets,” Douglass said.

“We actually have a 'Santa Maria’s Got Talent,' we have a dance contest, we have a lip sync battle, we have a game show where we do trivia with the carnival, and we are giving away a family four-pack,” Helm explained. “Every single time the game show goes on, you can get four VIP wristbands worth $300 every hour, on the hour.”

Helm says his team will spend the coming days setting up and testing the rides to ensure they are safe for the influx of crowds at the fairgrounds. But come Wednesday night, the carnival will be ready and Medusa will be calling your name.

“Literally, when you drive down the freeway, our Medusa will be able to be seen from the freeway. You will be able to see people going upside down... At nighttime, it is going to look crazy with it going around like that. We have those kinds of things in store for you here,” Helm said.

Discounted admission will be offered on the opening day of the fair next Wednesday. Tickets will cost $5 for anyone who shows up before 5 p.m.

Thursday is "Seniors Day" and admission for seniors will be $5 before 5 p.m.

On Friday, children under 11 years old will be admitted into the fair for free.

Saturday is free admission for military and law enforcement with a valid ID.

Presale tickets are available at starting at $11 for seniors and children, and $13 for adults.

The 2023 Santa Barbara County Fair takes place from July 12-16 at the Santa Maria Fairpark.