Eat + Drink, Travel

What to Do, See, Eat & Drink: State Fair of Texas 2016

? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

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.

Fried Foodpalooza:

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!


Outfit details: Top – Texas Humor // Shorts – American Eagle Outfitters // Shoes – Keds

Have you been to the State Fair of Texas? What was your favorite fried food?


? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

Featured Location: State Fair of Texas



? Photography by Katsi Santamaria

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29 Comment

  1. Reply
    October 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    This makes me almost want to go to the fair! You are the cutest!

    1. Reply
      October 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      The fair is so much fun! There is always something for everyone. Plus, I heard there are guinea pigs at the petting zoo.

  2. Reply
    Bridget (Nutty Hiker)
    October 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    I absolutely love the State Fair of Texas! Growing up in Dallas, I went every year (sometimes more than once). I assumed all fairs were that big. Imagine my surprise when I moved out of state and went to other state fairs! They seriously do not compare in size at all! Thankfully we live back in Texas now. I took my husband (who is from Washington) for the first time last year. I told him it was big, but until he saw it, he thought I was exaggerating!
    Bridget |

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      I think the State Fair of Texas is one of the biggest in the country…. and the BEST!

  3. Reply
    Vibeke Johannessen
    October 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    This looks so fun! I haven’t heard of it nor been to the US, but this is a must ! 😀 Thank you for sharing this made me happy:D

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      Awe! Makes me so happy too!

  4. Reply
    October 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Such a cute fair outfit! Perfect casual look

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:07 pm


  5. Reply
    October 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Omg this looks amazing!! I wish we lived closer!

    1. Reply
      March 20, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Everyone should experience the State Fair of Texas at least once. You should see if there are any local fairs in your town or state.

  6. Reply
    Angela Tolsma
    October 21, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    WOW four weeks of fair life! That’s insane and aewsome! I love your list of DO’s, See and Eats, so awesome!! I hope I get to go one day! Texas is on my list and I’ll have to try to plan it when the fair is one!

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      Thank you!! ? Take advantage of these tips when you come to the State Fair of Texas.

  7. Reply
    Jenna @ Outrageously Wonderful
    October 21, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    This post makes me miss DFW even more! Heading to the Fair was one of my favorite fall traditions while at TCU. Beautiful photography!

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      Hopefully you get to visit again!

  8. Reply
    October 21, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Us folks up here in the midwest love our state fairs. We eat our way around the fair taking in the rides and sites.

    1. Reply
      March 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      I would love to go to a fair in the Midwest!

  9. Reply
    Brittiny A
    October 21, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Love how colorful your pictures are and OMG that cotton candy is huge!!! I would love to visit a fair like that one day!

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Hahaha it sure was! Everything is bigger in Texas!

  10. Reply
    Libby Boyes
    October 21, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    This definitely makes me want to go to the fair! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! It has been a few years since we went to the Oregon State Fair, but this definitely makes me want to go next year and start a tradition!

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      Awe! Thank you! State Fairs are so much fun!

  11. Reply
    October 21, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    I need to make it up to the fair! I live in Austin and I have never been. Your pics look like so much fun 🙂

    xo Jen

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      I hope you make the trip up to Dallas for the State Fair of Texas one year!

  12. Reply
    Paige Strand
    October 22, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I’ve never been here before, looks awesome!

  13. Reply
    October 22, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    How fun! You look like you had a great time. That corn dog looks delicious. How the hell do you fry jello?

    1. Reply
      October 22, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      I honestly have no idea. They always seem to come up with the strangest things to fry like butter. ?

  14. Reply
    Essere Moda
    October 23, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    This is really a good post! I’ve never been to Texas before. Sounds there’s a lot to do and to eat in Texas.
    I will remember the things you’ve mentioned. Which camera do you use? They are gorgeous! X

    1. Reply
      March 20, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Thank you!! I am in love with the photos from Katsi, my photographer. I will have to ask her what camera she uses.

  15. Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 1:13 am

    This looks like SOOO much fun! The one we had here in Fairbanks, Alaska was an eyesore lol. Need to experience something like this.

    1. Reply
      March 20, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Oh no! Hopefully they are able to improve for the next one!

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