Doing the Tennessee Valley Fair on the cheap

There are ways to do the Tennessee Valley Fair on the cheap that really help the budget. Hubby and I set out to find the most budget friendly options a few years ago. Here are a few tidbits that we learned about doing the Tennessee Valley Fair on the cheap.

Opening day tickets are cheap. In 2015, the admission is $1.00 on opening day for the first 96 minutes. Want to know why? It’s because the Tennessee Valley Fair is in its 96th year! Gates open at 3:00 and the ticket prices cut off at 4:36 on the dot.

tennessee valley fair 2010 ferris wheel

Hubby and I arrived about 20 minutes before opening in 2014. It took about 45 minutes to get inside the gate. Hometown Heroes and students can get in free on specific special days. The Tennessee Valley Fair has a downloadable pdf with the full scoop on special pricing for those days.


The early bird gets the worm, or, in this case the cheapest parking spaces. Businesses and homes that surround Chilhowee Park rent parking spaces in lots and front yards. These spaces can be higher than those at the entrance gate. You either have to go early to get the spot or catch someone when they are leaving. We have successfully done both. Parking at the fair is $7.00. Prosser Road and Beaman Street gates have accessible parking.

Adrenaline junkies listen up

That all-you-can-ride wristband may not be a good deal. A full park means longer lines and less time to ride. You may not be able to get on enough rides to get your money’s worth out of the wristband. Go to the Tennessee Valley Fair, gauge the crowd, decide what rides you want to be on and do some quick math.

Midway prices

Back away from the midway and the wallet doesn’t get hurt. I know. I know. The Tennessee Valley Fair means fast and furious fun and Wade Shows does a great job providing it. Take a few extra minutes to see the free displays in the Kerr Building and the free competition exhibits in the Jacob Building.

Free stuff

Take advantage of the display of antique engines and tractors, music, and other free entertainment at the fair. Don’t forget that the events at the Action Sports Arena are free with a paid ticket. Hit the free stuff and you’ll have great family time, and the kiddos will have less time to drain your wallet.

Free cold water

The tents is usually on the hill toward the Kerr Building. Small paper cups are provided, but I have seen a few people refill bottles (although I’ve not tried it.) Don’t like water? Bring a few of those small flavoring packets. Just toss the flavoring in the cup first or it’s almost impossible to mix.


Food is pricey at the Tennessee Valley Fair and other special events. The most money-saving advice I can give you on food is eat before you go. You can’t bring a cooler and bags are subject to search. Check the concession stand prices at the Kerr Building for the best prices. Otherwise, decide what you want to spend on those funnel cakes, corn dogs and other special fair food and stick with it.


So, these are our tips for doing the Tennessee Valley Fair on the cheap. Got any other ideas to add? Leave some comments to help us all out.

One Comment

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    September 8, 2020

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