Jason Chiaruttini of Houston carries a stuffed animal won on the midway past Big Tex on a visit to the State Fair of Texas on the first weekend day of the fair, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Dallas.

Jason Chiaruttini of Houston carries a stuffed animal won on the midway past Big Tex on a visit to the State Fair of Texas on the first weekend day of the fair, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Dallas.

/Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the discount for the 2017 State Fair of Texas.

Texans look forward to the State Fair nearly year-round, but they also need to save for just as long to get the most out of the event.

Consider that a general admission ticket costs $18 for adults and $14 for kids. That means mom, dad and little one are spending $50 to get in the gates. Grandma wants to come? That's another $14 for a senior ticket, and you haven't even indulged in a corny dog yet.

If the numbers feel discouraging, don't give up yet. Here are all the ways you can snag cheap tickets and make that dream of a selfie with Big Tex a reality. (Tickets go on sale Aug. 1.)

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Opening day discounts

Fairgoers can grab tickets for $10 on opening day, Sept. 29, by bringing a 20-ounce bottle of Dasani water or a 20-ounce Coca-Cola product to the gate. Donations benefit the North Texas Food Bank.

Opening day doubles as the the fair's Military Appreciation Day, which means free admission for all active and retired military personnel, including veterans. Bring a military ID as well as military spouse ID to gain free access to the event. The deal also covers children under age 18.

First Responders Day

On Oct. 13, the fair is hosting a new event called First Responders Day. Active and retired public law enforcement, firefighters, and paramedics receive free admission, as do up to three of their family members. This deal requires eligible personnel bring a valid badge or ID from their department or organization.

Weekday discounts

Hit the State Fair for half-price any day after 5 p.m. by bringing an empty Dr Pepper can to the gate.

The State Fair of Texas also offers recurring deals on select weekdays. They include...

  • Tuesdays: $6 entry fee when you bring an empty Dr Pepper can; Midway rides are also usually discounted this day
  • Wednesdays: $4 entry fee when you bring four canned food items, which will be donated to the North Texas Food Bank
  • Thursdays: $7 entry fee when you bring a 20-ounce bottle of any Coca-Cola product; select food items are also discounted this day through the fair's Thrifty Thursday program
  • Fridays: $13 for adult admission or $9 for children admission when you download a $5-off coupon from KissFM's website (available after Sept. 1)

Thursdays are also for seniors

Every Thursday throughout the fair is senior day, which offers attendees 60 years old and up free entry.

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Buy tickets online

Those who buy in advance online save $1.50 on fair tickets for any day of the week. With this discount, general admission tickets cost $16.50 and child/senior tickets cost $12.50.

Those who purchase using the DART GoPass app save $2 on fair tickets for any day of the week. These tickets will be paperless and scanned from your phone at the gate. With this discount, general admission tickets cost $16 and child/senior tickets cost $12.

Where to find coupons

Purchase a meal at McDonald's and receive a coupon; it will either be lining your tray or stuffed in your to-go bag. Coupons are good for $5 off GA tickets or half-off a kid's ticket with the purchase of one regularly-priced admission. Coupons can be redeemed any day of the fair.

A discount that's also a donation

Stop by NorthPark Center for a feel-good discount. Now through Oct. 22, you can buy State Fair tickets there for $15 (or $3 off) and $5 of that with go to the Salvation Army and American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts. Tickets are available at the mall concierge located on the ground level near Neiman Marcus.

Craving something fried already? Check out our State Fair of Texas hub page.

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