Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect changes for the 2018 State Fair of Texas.
The State Fair of Texas is in full swing, though I don't need to tell you this. Just look at the number of fried food pics and Big Tex selfies on your Facebook feed.
The fair means a whole lotta fun, but it also means spending a whole lotta loot. Don't fret Texans, we scoured the fairgrounds in search of deals and steals to make the trip easier on your wallet. So grab this handy fried food map and our list of eats that are worth your dime, and get on down to Fair Park. With a little strategy, you can save on admission, too.
Water for $1 or less
It's imperative to stay hydrated at the State Fair, and luckily several booths get that it shouldn't cost an entire sheet of tickets to do so. The Continental Daughters of the American Revolution House (D.A.R. House), located right by the front entrance gate, sells water and soda for $1. The history lesson comes free.
Soda Refill Stations, like the one pictured above, are located throughout the fairgrounds, and if you look closely, they offer another deal: 2-coupon or $1 water. We know of at least five — one outside the Centennial Building by the big fountain, another on Nimitz Circle near the dog shows at Pan American Arena, another near the neon Big Tex sign by the lake with swan boats, one by the Old Mill Inn and one on MLK Jr. Boulevard as you exit the Funway — but there may be more, so keep your eyes peeled.
There are also new stands at the fair dedicated to cheap water. Some are called Lil' Pardner's Bottled Water (pictured) and other simply tout 2-Coupon Water. They're usually near the Soda Refill Stations, but not always.
Stop by the Icehouse on the Midway or the Beer Barn at Cotton Bowl Plaza for 2 coupon or $1 water, as well. (More on that below.)
Let's say you only have cash or a credit card and don't feel like exchanging for tickets. Duck into the Go Texan Pavilion where the Pioneer Brand convenience store sells $1 bottled water.
Pro tip: You can bring your own food and drink to the fair, as long as it's not alcohol, metal knives or in glass. You can even bring a cooler to keep it chilled!
Beer for $3
Perhaps you want to refresh with a cold beer. Folks looking for the bare necessities can grab a domestic brew for six coupons (that's only $3) at the Icehouse on the Midway. It's near the base of the Fast Trax super slide on what's technically called the Fun Way. The deal applies to all beers, including Coors Original, Miller Lite, Shiner Bock, and three craft beers from Plano's Unlawful Assembly Brewing Co. (Peacemonger Pilsner, Public Dissent Pale Ale, and Idol Time fruited wheat) throughout the fair.
If you're over in Cotton Bowl Plaza, the Beer Barn also sells six-ticket beer. Options include all of those listed above, plus Modelo, Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Both bars also offer water for $1 (2 coupons).
Food for less than half price
Thrifty Thursdays are your best bets for food deals at the State Fair. Concessionaires offer serious discounts on more than 80 items every Thursday, from nachos to pizza to mini funnel cakes. Even some former Big Tex Choice Awards finalists, such as Fried Jambalaya Balls and Fried Thanksgiving, are on sale. (Items can be purchased with coupons only.)
You'll see many of the stands with signs saying they offer the Thrifty Thursdays deal, but you can also find them with this handy map, which is also printed in the State Fair program.
A discount is great, but free is even better, right? Every day of the week, you can snag a free vanilla ice cream sample from Southwest Dairy Farmers in the Go Texan Pavilion. Be warned: There will be a line.
Looking for a snack that won't upset your doctor? The Continental Daughters of the American Revolution House (D.A.R. House), located right by the front entrance gate, sells popcorn and Snickers candy bars for $1. You'll also find gear, such as koozies and visors, for $1.