Searching the local papers, free tabloids, and websites, I am stunned at how nothing is free around here. Would someone really pay $8 for a Mardi Gras "party" in a Salem Park? (Food costs extra!) $18 for a "wine tasting"? $7 for a Library "slide show" about Hawaii?
Do you not have the "free festival but pay for booth food" concept here? I think I saw one listed in Swampscott (few weeks back), but there certainly aren't many!
Even where a fee is warranted ("Elks Lodge Breakfast"), the prices seem to run 2-3 times of those in other cities. But that bothers me far less than those "cover" charges at meal-less events. I spend a lot of money on booth food, but my limit is about $3 for an entrance fee. For $8 (Salem, mentioned above) I would have expected the meal included.