Renaissance Fest for cheap: Freeloader Bonus

Renaissance Fest for cheap: Freeloader Bonus

You've been to the fair, the amusement park, the zoo, and a dozen art fests. Now it's time to take a little road trip out to Shakopee for another summertime tradition: Ye Olde Renaissance Festival. And while you may love the cheesy fun of it all, money can be a little tight at the end of the summer. No worries--if you can afford the gas and the gate charge it's possible to spend an afternoon filled with activities without eating your wallet. Check out our tips and tricks.

Before you get there:

First, make sure you carpool to save on gas (obviously). And the earlier you get there, the better. Traffic comes to a halt mid-afternoon and the less time you spend in the car, the less likely you will have to stop for gas on the way home.

Parking is plentiful and always free.

If you're bringing the kids or a carload of gamers, the admission price can add up quickly. Buy advance tickets at Walgreens, Super America, or Whole Foods and save around $3 per ticket. Adult passes go for $17.95 (regularly $20.95) and kiddie tickets cost $9.95 (regularly $11.95). Discount coupons can also be found at Domino's Pizza, Subway, and UPS.

Feeling lucky? Show up before 9 a.m. in an awesome costume and try your luck at winning free admission at the opening costume contest.

Free entertainment:

Jousts: Daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. Bonus!: Great danes will be jousting Sep. 11-12.

Parade: Daily at 11:30 a.m.

Puke and Snot: A Ren Fest circuit favorite.

Tuey: This dude walks a tightrope while it's on fire.

Petting zoo: Meet an elephant and feed the animals.

Eating competitions: Depending on the weekend theme, there are scheduled eating contests featuring spaghetti, pie, and mashed potatoes. Yeah, these can get pretty gross.

September 25-26: Free vow renewals. Get married again!

Free take-home crafts:

Free wand making for kids over in the Children's Realm.

Find Twig for a free fairy stone.

Free food:

September 11-12: Check out the National Homebrew Competition, and try some free beer from Shell's.

September 25-26: Chocolate and wine sampling.

October 2-3: BBQ sampling.

Free education:

Go to juggling school

Take courtly and belly dance lessons.

Watch hookah demonstrations.

Ask around for free bocce ball lessons.

September 11-12: Watch home brew demonstrations.

Cheap shopping:

Looking to take home a souvenir? Stop by the Ren Fest pottery shop. Towards the back of the store there's usually mugs and goblets from past year's the sell for cheap (usually under $10). In five years you won't remember whether you went in 2009 or 2010 anyway.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival runs through October 3. For more information, visit the official site at

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