Y’all, the State Fair of Texas ? is in town and you know what that means… Big Tex, Fletcher’s corny dogs, pig races ?, turkey legs? , funnel cake beer ?, fireworks and so much more!
It is quite frankly the best time of the year and one of my biggest yearly traditions as a Dallasite. In this post, I’ll share a bit of background on the State Fair of Texas and a few tips on what to do, see and eat + drink. Let us get started.
Brief History of the State Fair of Texas:
The State Fair of Texas started in 1886 and has taken place in the historic Fair Park ever since. It runs for about four weeks from late-September to October. During the third Saturday of the fair, the annual Red River Rivalry occurs, which is a huge college football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma.
The World’s Tallest Texas – Big Tex:
The most famous cowboy and beloved Texas icon resides at the State Fair of Texas and his name is Big Tex. Every year he receives a custom Dickies shirt, Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots. This year, Big Tex’s shirt features a patch honoring the five police officers killed in downtown Dallas on July 7, 2016. His most famous saying is “howdy, folks” and you can catch him speak in English and Spanish, as well as, wave his hand about every 15 minutes.
Each year, the State Fair of Texas hosts the Big Tex Choice Awards, where you will get a sneak peek of the newest [fried] food creations. This year, the top winners include Fried Jell-O and State Fair Cookie Fries. Yum!
There are lots of fried food options throughout the fair, so if you are craving it, you can find it. Some of my favorites include the Fletcher’s corny dog, Community Beer Co.’s funnel cake ale, fried Oreos, tornado taters, turkey leg, fresh squeezed lemonade, strawberry and Nutella funnel cake, and butter pecan fudge.
The Midway & Texas Star Ferris Wheel:
If you thought the State Fair of Texas was just about the fried food, then you are mistaken! Enter the Midway and you will be blown away by the playground of amusement games and rides. There are more than 70 rides, including the Texas Star Ferris wheel, the 500ft Top o’ Texas Tower, the Texas Skyway, and the 1914 Dentzel Carousel.
What to Do:
> Gather up your family and/or friends for a fun-filled day! Dress comfortably because gates open daily at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. To arrive at the fair, you can drive, take the DART, or Uber. Parking is fairly easy, but parking lots fill up quick, so have some patience as you find a spot. While taking the DART can take a bit of time, it is pretty convenient, and you know the drill when it comes to Uber – it is self-explanatory.
> Purchase general admission tickets and food/ride coupons online to save time and money. Better yet, do yourself a favor and buy a season pass, you will not regret it!
> Familiarize yourself with the State Fair of Texas park map. Fair Park is HUGE and there’s so much to do, see and eat. There is also a daily schedule online to give you an idea of events happening on the day you attend the fair.
> Cool off at the Auto Show even if you are not car shopping. You will thank me after a long day in the Texas heat.
> Shop ’til you drop. There are 18 dedicated shopping locations around the fair where you can buy just about anything from Texas shaped corn chips, salsa, local honey, jewelry and even cowboy hats.
> Check out the massage chairs for a free and relaxing break. Your feet will thank you. Massage chairs are located at Centennial Exhibit Hall, Coliseum Market Place, Embarcadero and Grand Place.
What to See:
> The one and only BIG TEX. Wave “hello” and snap a picture.
> The pig races. They begin every hour at the Pan Am Arena and you will have a blast rooting for your favorite pig. I usually cheer for all of them because they are all so cute!
> The Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition at the Women’s Museum building. Admission is $8 and you will get an up-close look at life-sized reproductions of the famed ceiling paintings from the Sistine Chapel. Due to popular demand, the exhibition has been extended from November 1, 2016, to January 8, 2017.
> The Budweiser Clydesdales in the Stable Display located in Chevrolet Park Plaza from 6-6:30 p.m. You can also catch them at the Starlight Parade on the Anheuser-Busch wagon.
> Concerts from musical acts across all genres. National and regional talent take the stage every day around the park.
> The nightly Starlight Parade make its way through the park with lighted floats, bands, and stilt-walking characters. The parade begins at 7:30 p.m.
> The Illumination Sensation at 8 p.m. Grab a spot on the Esplanade quickly after the parade to view the dancing waters, high-energy music and lights, dancers, acrobats, fire-show and best of all, fireworks.
What to Eat + Drink:
> A Fletcher’s corny dog. There is even a meat-free option for vegetarians.
> A craft beer like the funnel cake ale with a powdered sugar rim or pumpkin spice lager with a cinnamon sugar rim.
> Fried [you name it]. As you walk around the fair, you will see fried treats calling your name. Don’t be shy and indulge!
> A craft cocktail like the Texas Mule (a Texas twist on the Moscow mule).
> A turkey leg. They are huge, enough to share with a friend.
> Water to stay hydrated. You can buy water and soda for $1 (yes, you read that right) at the Continental Daughters of the American Revolution House located by the front entrance gate.
I hope you find these tips helpful and that you have a super time at the State Fair of Texas! Scroll to the bottom to find a few pictures of me at the fair and my outfit details. Plus, do not forget to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!
Have you been to the State Fair of Texas? What was your favorite fried food?
Featured Location: State Fair of Texas
? Photography by Katsi Santamaria