The State Fair of Texas is one of the biggest events in a place where they do everything big. Big Tex, the state fair mascot, stands watch over the fairgrounds—the 52-foot talking cowboy is certainly qualifies as big. Every September and October, millions of visitors to Fair Park hear Big Tex say, “Howdy folks. Welcome to the State Fair of Texas” before they start enjoying the fun.
This grand event is held at Fair Park, a 277-acre park known for its art deco architecture and for its role as the home of the Dallas Summer Musicals. The entire venue, right in the heart of the city, was created in 1936 for the Texas Centennial, celebration 100 years of independence from Mexico.
As any who has attended any kind of fair or who watches food shows on TV knows, state fairs are known for their good eats. The Texas State Fair is no exception—it all started with the corny dog, which was introduced during the 1942 fair. These days, the state fair hosts the corny dog eating championship, where the winners eat their way into a spot in the record books. From the corny dog, the offering of fried foods has expanded to include deep-fried butter, peaches and cream, even fried bacon. Eating strange and tasty food has become one of the favorite things to do at the state fair.
Every year, food vendors try to outdo the previous year's offerings, so you never know what you'll find fresh out of the fryer. For the last several seasons, the concessionaires and vendors have competed in the Big Tex Choice Awards. The most innovative and tasty dish wins top prize; previous winners include fried praline perfection and, amazingly, fried Coca-Cola. Of course, non-fried foods are available at the Texas State Fair, and there are numerous shopping opportunities throughout the fairgrounds.
It's a good thing you'll have the chance to do some walking to work off your fried treat. Fair Park is home to one of the largest concentrations of things to do in Texas in one place. Since 2007, passengers have been climbing aboard the Texas SkyWay for bird's-eye tours of the park. Each gondola can hold ten passengers and can accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. A comfortable ride whisks fair-goers 1,800 feet across Fair Park in just a few minutes.
The calendar is jammed packed with events big and small at the State Fair of Texas. You'll have the chance to enjoy free concerts from some of the biggest names in country, pop, and R&B when old favorites take to the stage along with up and comers. Kids flock to the fun games and shows just for them, while the auto show is a favorite of the big kids. Celebrity chefs host demonstrations, and state fair visitors have a chance to join in the culinary fun with a variety of cooking contests. You'll be amazed at the creativity demonstrated in the Texas Pecan Cook-Off or the Great American SPAM championship.Staying true its roots, the Texas State Fair hosts a variety of agricultural events, including the annual Youth Livestock Auction and competitions in the creative home arts.
One of the biggest events of the Texas State Fair is the Red River Rivalry. This annual match pits rivals University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners in one of the most exciting games in college football. The game is held during the second weekend in October at the Cotton Bowl, with the home team alternating from year to year.
No matter what you want to do (or eat) at Fair Park, you do need to pay admission. A general admission rate is charged for anyone over the age of two, with discounts for kids under 48 inches tall and seniors age 60 and better. Every Thursday of the fair, senior visitors are admitted free of charge. State Fair of Texas discounts are available, especially for groups with 20 or more members, season pass holders, and riders of DART, the local light rail system. Parking is available onsite for those who want to do the driving themselves.
Image: Dallas CVB