One state fair in the United States dwarfs them all: the State Fair of Texas, held in Dallas. It’s effectively the largest state fair, attracting more people each year than any other fair, making it a must-see for anyone who enjoys fried food, games, rides, and concerts. Before planning a trip to Dallas to witness the Texas State Fair, here’s everything you need to know.
What Is the Texas State Fair or the State Fair of Texas?
The Texas State Fair is a yearly state fair held in Dallas, Texas, at Fair Park and has been held annually since 1886, except for World War I, World War II, and 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fair usually starts on the last Friday of September and lasts 24 days.
The fair claims a yearly attendance of more than two million visitors through ticket scanning. Despite its troubled history, the Texas State Fair is regarded as one of the best in the country and Dallas’ signature event.
It Only Happens Once a Year
The Texas State Fair is only held annually, from September to October. It will open on September 28 at 10 a.m. and close on October 21. The fair’s opening day is big, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an award ceremony, and a performance by the US Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
There are many things to do at the Texas State Fair, some of which may seem strange to visitors. The fair has always had a strong agricultural focus, and many of the exhibitions demonstrate this. There are milking demonstrations, a petting zoo, and prized livestock shows.
You can find everything from butter sculptures to cooking demonstrations in the Creative Arts building. Visitors can also visit 18 shopping areas and a few museums, such as the African American Museum, while at the fair.
Things You Must Do During Your Visit
As one of the best sites to visit in DFW, the State Fair is jam-packed with exciting activities, adorable barnyard animals, music concerts, fun events, and much more. Here’s a list of the things you must see and do at the fair:
Watch the Opening Day Parade
Every year, the fair begins with its annual parade across downtown Dallas. Don’t miss the parade if you’re going to the fair on the first day. It will surely put you in a festive fair mood!
Marching bands, vintage cars, girls in cowboy boots and twirly skirts (does it get more Texas? ), cowboys, colorful floats, beauty queens, and more will be on display.
And if you miss the parade, you can still see it at the fair! Every night at 7:15 p.m., Fair Park hosts the Starlight Parade, a lighted cavalcade featuring spectacular floats, dazzling costumes, lively music, and a fun assortment of characters.
Visit on a Concert Night
The fair’s cost of admission is $18 for adults and $14 for children, but this does not include the cost of games, rides, or food. So, if the fair has free activities, you should take advantage of them. Certain exhibits, browsing vendor booths, and, best of all, the concerts are all free.
The fair hosts 24 free concerts featuring musicians of various genres every year.
Take a Picture With Big Tex
You can’t go to the Texas State Fair without taking a picture with Big Tex, the fair’s resident greeter. Big Tex, who stands 55 feet (16 meters) tall, is the world’s tallest cowboy and has been a fixture of the fair since 1952. The cowboy is even a movie star, appearing in State Fair in 1962.
Eat Fair Food
Isn’t fair food the best food? It’s even better in Texas.
The Texas State Fair is world-renowned for producing many innovative foods. Corn dogs, for example, may have been invented at the Texas State Fair, according to local favorite Fletcher’s Corny Dog.
Traditional Texas fair food, such as massive turkey legs, Frito Chili Pies, and funnel cakes, can be found here. However, almost any fried food imaginable can be found, including fried butter, fried lattes, fried Jell-O, fried Oreos, fried Coke, fried beer, fried Bubblegum, and even fried cookie dough. True, it’s a heart attack in the making.
Every year, there’s a new concoction to try, so be the first in line!
Explore Historic Fair Park
One of the best things about the Texas State Fair is its beautiful setting! A Dallas National Historic Landmark, Fair Park, hosts the Texas State Fair.
Many structures were built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, which transformed the site from a 20th-century fairground into an Art Deco showcase. Walking around the fairgrounds, you’ll notice these distinctive structures all over the place.
The view from the reflecting pool close to the park’s entrance is especially lovely, with Art Deco buildings on either side. This is an excellent location for a souvenir photograph!
Visit the Midway
A fair wouldn’t be complete without a midway, and Texas State Fair’s midway is massive! The midway is highly popular with children, but adults will also enjoy it. A fantastic time to visit is at night when everything is illuminated.
Hitch a ride on the Texas Skyway for a bird’s-eye view of the midway. It is accessible from either end of the midway.
The Midway section of the fair is home to 70 rides and amazing carnival games. The 500-foot (152-meter) Top o’ Texas Tower, 212-foot (65-meter) Ferris wheel (also known as the Texas Star) that lights up at night, and 1914 Dentzel Carousel are the most iconic of the 70 rides.
To ride the rides, you must purchase 12-15 coupons per ride, which cost approximately $0.50 each. Expect long lines because this is among the most popular spots at the fair.
Take the DART Instead of Driving
Parking at the Texas State Fair is inconvenient, expensive, and frequently requires long walks from the car to the entrance. Rather than driving to the fair, take the DART, Dallas’ rail line. It has a stop in front of the entrance and can save you $2 on fair tickets any day of the week by using the DART GoPass app.
The Texas State Fair is held in Fair Park, which spans 277 acres. What are the chances of trying every ride, eating every fried delicacy, and visiting every incredible vendor booth? Quite low.
But don’t worry, the month-long State Fair of Texas returns yearly, offering a new experience with each visit, just like Christmas.