In many areas, late spring signals the beginning of the first “festival season” of the year. November through December is the second season. Spring festivals tend to feature artwork, produce, and homemade goodies while fall/early winter festivals are more about craft items and gift ideas. Festivals are fun to attend, but they can be a drain on your budget – and your energy levels -- if you aren’t careful.
Know whether you plan to eat at the festival or not before you go. Sometimes it’s inevitable because of the set-up, but if at all possible, it is less expensive to pack your own food. Taking a lunch along with you does not have to be a complicated affair. Pack a whole-grain wrap for everyone in a cooler lunch pack. Then take some baby carrots, and apple, and a drink for everyone. Stick it all in a backpack, and you are ready to go. Festival food typically is very expensive for what you get, and it can cost upwards of $40 for a family of four to eat hot dogs and fries from vendors.
Even if you are going to eat a meal at the festival, be prepared with snacks and bottled water. Freeze the water the night before so that it will defrost in your bag while you’re there and take some granola bars or trail mix to tide everyone over if needed. Impulse purchases add up! With five minutes of planning the night before, you can help avoid them.
Know whether you plan to make any purchases at the festival before you get there. Arts and craft fairs tend to be places where independent artists go to show off their wares, and those folks need to make sales in order to continue their work. Don’t let money keep you from supporting independent creative professionals but don’t end up spending more than you should on a cool painting that has no place in your home either! Before you go, think about whether there are spots in your home that could use a spruce up and what your budget is to make a purchase if you find something. As you are looking, keep in mind where you would put each piece you consider buying and whether it fits your overall goals.
Buying gifts at arts and craft festivals also can be a great way to enjoy a festival and take home something while also getting early shopping out of the way. If you see something that is “just perfect” for someone in your family, snatch it up! The pieces at festivals typically aren’t readily available elsewhere.
Remember that it’s entirely possible to enjoy a festival as a form of free entertainment. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s also a great idea to consider how to make the day one that you can enjoy even while spending a little cash.