A few years ago, we were driving along a highway and saw a big sign in front of a bank that was advertising a grand-opening event. From the road we could see tents, a moon bounce, and a lot of people. It wasn’t our bank, but the sign was inviting everyone in.
The event had free food samples from local restaurants, games, prizes, face-painting, a moon bounce for the kids. A local fire department had a big engine for the kids to check out and the K-9 unit was also showing off their working dogs. When we left, our bellies were full and our daughter was exhausted. It turned out to be a fun event and it was totally free. As we were driving away, my husband said, “we need to take advantage of these free community events more often”. And that began my mission to find as many free family events as possible.
Another free event that we attended last year was at a local garden nursery. They were holding a spring open house. I signed up for a “vegetable gardening for beginners” seminar and my husband took the kids to the children’s activities that were being offered. The kids planted daffodil bulbs, bean plants, and a “potato hedgehog” to take home. Our oldest was so excited to have her own plants. She loves to “help” us outside; that is code for she loves to play in the dirt.
For taking the veggie seminar, I went home with a free heirloom tomato plant and a free 6 pack of vegetables of our choice. I chose broccoli. The photo below is all of the plants that we were able to take home for free. Unfortunately, the hedgehog potato was supposed to end up looking like a chia potato, but rotted before it had a chance. You win some, you lose some…
Some places to look for FREE events and activities include:
- Your local newspaper. We are 7-day a week subscribers and I always find FREE events listed in our paper. I found the gardening seminar advertised in the paper.
- Check your Local TV stations websites for community calendars on their websites.
- Weekly Shopper – this comes in our mail on Wednesdays. It looks like a newspaper and has a lot of local small business advertising and community events calendars.
- From the weekly story-times to monthly children’s events, our library hosts fantastic FREE activities throughout the year. Our library also has a community events bulletin board that I always check out for ideas.
- Your township, borough, or municipality’s website probably lists a calendar of community events. Our township hosts many events like Easter egg hunts, gardening exchanges, and summer Music in the Park concerts.
- Your local mall should have a community calendar. Our mall hosts children’s events throughout the year.
- Stores like Toys-R-Us, Home Depot or Lowes have family/children’s events through out the year. Check their websites and sign up for their newsletters.
- Local churches. I sign my oldest up for Vacation Bible School every year. This is considered a community outreach program. Most churches welcome new children to their VBS programs. There might be age restrictions. Our church accepts children 3 and older.
- The YMCA hosts a Healthy Kids Day in the spring and one again in the fall, that are FREE to the community. You usually do not have to be a member to participate. We go every year. The activities at our Y includes: Moon Bounce, Open pool, Healthy snacks, Room to Romp demonstration and community vendors. All children 12 and under are welcome to participate as long as they are accompanied by an adult. This appears to be a national event, so be sure to check out your local YMCA.
- A different bank than the one above was holding a children’s fair last year and my husband won this 5 piece outdoor furniture set in a raffle. Banks are always doing open houses or children’s fairs in our area. I have never felt any pressure because we don’t belong to the particular bank that is holding the event.
The key is to keep your eyes and your ears open for the opportunities. You just never know where your next activity will be.
What FREE community events have you participated in recently? Where did you hear about them?
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This post is linked to:
- Thrifty Tuesday at I Am A Money Magnet
- Thrifty Thursday at Coupon Teacher
- Making Dollars out Of Change at Madame Deals
- Frugal Friday at Life As Mom
This post is a reprint, with a few edits, of a previously published post. I brought it back out because I didn’t have the following a year ago as I do now…Enjoy!