Every parent knows that taking the family for a day at the fair can leave you feeling like your wallet is considerably lighter than when you left the house in the morning.
But how much does it really cost?
Of course, the total can vary drastically depending on how hungry you are, how many rides you want to try and how big a prize you want to win.
A conservative estimate for a family of four for the day; $40 for lunch, $25 for games, $45 for rides, $20 for snacks and drinks and $40 for dinner for a total of $170.
According to the owner and general manager of West Coast Amusements, I.R. (Bingo) Hauser, the pricing for the rides at Silver City Days this year is the same as last year.
“We’re keeping everything the same this year but we’ll have to look at it next year,” said Hauser. “The biggest cost we have is for fuel to bring these things here and it goes up all the time.”
Hauser, who has been working in travelling shows in Canada since 1944, began as a lion tamer and moved west in 1947.
He says that, as much as they try to keep the prices reasonable, everything costs more now than it once did.
“Between the fuel for the trucks, insurance for the show, permits… everything goes up,” Hauser said. “I’m not sure how much longer these travelling shows will be able to keep going.”
A leisurely stroll through the Silver City Days food mall and West Coast Amusements midway might give you an idea of how much you may need to withdraw from the bank machine before you take in the show this year.
Basing an estimate on a family of four, two adults and two children, provides a starting point.
The typical Saturday at the annual festival generally begins with the parade and carries on to lunch after the parade when the sidewalk cafe in the Cominco Arena opens at noon.
Prices at the Smoke Eaters’ sidewalk cafe will be the same this year, according to Smoke Eaters president Tom Gawryletz.
“We’ll have the usual spaghetti and meatballs with a roll, italian sausages, and pizza, beer and wine for the adults and pop,” Gawryletz said. “And we’ll have a condensed Spud Shack menu as well, with fries, onion rings and hotdogs for the kids.”
The sidewalk cafe, being a local organization fund-raiser, typically can provide food and drinks at a lower price than a private individual making a living.
A post-parade lunch for the family with two spaghetti dinners at $8 each, say pizza for two kids at $3 each, a plate of fries to share at $4, a beer or a glass of wine for the adults at $5 each and two pop for the kids at $1.
This is a pretty full meal and, of course, only an estimate but the total works out to $38.
An even more frugal approach might be to take in a basic corn dog for each of the kids, burgers for the adults, and pop on the food mall, which can be bought for as little as $20.
However, there appears to be a broader selection of options for food this year and with a variety of burgers and meat buns from $5 to $9, donairs and wraps from $8 to $10, and salads in the $9 to $10 range, it’s easy to imagine lunch for four as potentially costing considerably more.
From lunch the family continues on to the midway rides and games with the prices varying depending on the size of the prize one is aiming for and the rides preferred.
Playing one of the basic children’s games can give the opportunity for a kid to win a small stuffed creature for only $2, larger toys will cost at least $10 worth of gaming to win.
A rough estimate of what it would cost to win one of huge stuffed characters on display, provided by a midway worker who preferred to remain anonymous, was in the neighbourhood of $100. I imagine those to be the exclusive territory of younger men who are somewhat desperate to impress a particular young lady. Or vice-versa.
For the purposes of this estimate, a reasonably strict family limit for midway games could be around $25.
For the midway rides, $15 for a book of six, $22.50 for 16, and $45 for 40 Thursday and Friday.
All day wrist bands are available Saturday for $32 and Sunday with a donation of two non-perishable food items for $29.
Small children’s rides are four or five tickets, larger rides, more targeted towards teens or adults require six.
Depending on your income, level of indulgence with your children, and their ages, it may just be best to pay the $62 for wrist bands and let them go wild for the day but those with younger kids and with less disposable cash would probably consider a book of tickets as more reasonable.
If one of the parents will, at some point, have to accompany one or both of the children on a ride or two, the $45 book is probably the most realistic choice.
Snacks throughout the afternoon can range from cotton candy at $4 or $5, popcorn from $3 to $7 depending on the size of the bag, candy apples at $4, and drinks in the $1 or $2 range. Put a rough guess at $20.
After a long day of parades, entertainment, rides, and street food many would opt for taking the kids home for a quite dinner and to wind down before the Saturday evening fireworks but if your children are closer to their teens this may not happen so the family may choose to have more of a dinner at the food mall or return to the sidewalk cafe for more food, and music in that venue. If so count of another $20 to $40 for a dinner-like meal and drinks.
Of course this will change considerably with the age of the children and the level of tolerance the parents have for wandering around town for the day but this is certainly not out of the question and probably less than many will spend.
But above all, have a safe and enjoyable Silver City days.