They say everything is bigger in Texas and we couldn’t agree more. Just days away from the biggest tradition this season has to offer Texans are eagerly awaiting the opening of the State Fair of Texas. Centered in the heart of Dallas, the State Fair of Texas brings plenty of amusement for all ages. Covering over 277 acres of fun, fairgoers can experience an atmosphere like no other
When deciding to attend, it’s always a great idea to know what you’re getting into. So for all you newbies out there, here are a few things you’d definitely have to experience when attending this years fair.
1. Where deep fried is Texas gold.
Here in Texas food is more than just eating, it’s a luxury. Home of Tex-Mex, BBQ and Pecan Pie, the State Fair of Texas doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to all of these foods. So repeat after me, “Deep-fried”. That’s all you need to know when coming to the fair. The capital of fried anything, the State Fair of Texas combines favorite and unusual foods into mouth-watering bites that will leave you wanting more. This year’s winners include, Best Tasting: Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly and Most Creative: Smoky Bacon Margarita. Other finalist that top the list are Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy, Cowboy Corn Crunch, Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest, Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo, Lone Star Pork Handle and Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso. So as you finish absorbing that list of fried delicacy, make sure you come ready and hungry (stretchy pants are highly recommended).
2. Thrifty Thursdays
Calling all food fanatics! Thursdays just became your new best friend. The State Fair of Texas will be promoting this daily discount program where fairgoers can chow down on tasty treats for half the cost. Talk about more bang for your buck. Presented by SilverLeaf Resort, pricing will be available each Thursday (October 1, 8 & 15, 2015). If you’re as curious as we are, check out this years list!
3. Fletcher’s Corny Dog
Okay, we had to give this one its own category. This fried golden treasure on a stick is one of a kind and a definite must-have while attending the fair. Named as America’s “Original” corn dog, the Fletcher brothers created this indisputably iconic piece, which is now home to the State Fair of Texas. This granddaddy of corndogs will have you wanting at least 2-3 while you’re there.
The Midway can be considered the playground of amusement. Games, roller coasters, bungee jumping and more can all be found in this area. Featuring more than 70 rides the Midway includes, the 500-ft. Top o’ Texas Tower, 1914 Dentzel Carousel, Texas Star Ferris wheel, the Kidway and Thrillway. Also featured within the Midway you can find the Errol McKoy Greenhouse, a favorite for many fairgoers. Like most of the park, payment is used by way of coupons and game cards for selected areas. So in advance, stock up on them and get your hinny ready for some good ole friendly fun.
5. Texas Star Ferris wheel
This iconic blue beauty of steel gives fairgoers a great opportunity to enjoy Dallas’ breathtaking skyline day or night. Reaching 212 feet tall, the Texas Star is the largest Ferris wheel in North America. Accommodating up to 264 riders, with 44 gondolas that seat up to six people each. You can find this historic gem on the far end of the Midway. A neat tidbit for riders is if you’re lucky, you can spot the Fort Worth skyline from the distance on a clear day.
6. Texas Skyway
Similar to the Texas Star, the Texas Skyway brings magnificent views of Fair Park. Fairgoers can sit back and enjoy a bird’s eye view stretching 1,800 feet wide. Entrances for ride-alongs can be found by Big Tex or at the end of the Midway.
7. “Howdy, Folks!”
While you work your way through the center of Fair Park you will come across the infamous 55-foot giant, Big Tex. Decked out from head to toe in cowboy gear, (the best dressed in our opinion) he will greet you with his signature “Howdy, Folks!”. There is just something about this cowboy that brings smiles to every fairgoer’s faces. So, when you spot Texas’ friendly giant, pull out those cellphones and he will gladly take that selfie with you.
8. Auto Show
Once you’re done checking out the mighty giant, head down to the Auto Show near by. Exhibits are both in the Centennial and Automobile Buildings. Here you can find the world’s leading manufacturers debuting over 400 of latest and greatest automobiles. This auto show is the largest on the Southwest region. All things auto, this exhibit gives plenty of variety for anyone. And who knows you might spot that perfect Christmas gift for your partner…. What’s that saying; “happy wife, happy life?”
9. Red River Rivalry
A sea of orange and crimson (which probably could be visible from outer space) will flood the fairgrounds giving Texas football a whole new meaning. This will mark the 110th edition of the college football rivalry against the University of Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners. Football is no joke here in Texas and with this long history and rivalry it is guaranteed a weekend of excitement and heartbreak. This Red River showdown is scheduled to take place October 10th in the historic Cotton Bowl, heart of the fairgrounds.
10. Chevrolet Main Stage Concert Series
FREE…yes we said it free! Chevrolet Main Stage Concert series presents 24 days of live music and entertainment at no cost. This series will feature over 85 performances of regional and national talent. Performances include, the Voice’s season 7 winner, Craig Wayne Boyd, the Beach Boys, Mercy Me, Kevin Fowler, Lecrae and much more. So get those dance shoes ready and boogey on down to the main stage.
11. Chevy ride and drive
Nothing says sexy like a new Chevy and here at the fair is the best opportunity to check out the latest models. Fairgoers can test drive several automobiles. Testing its smooth ride and suspension. You can choose from Chevrolet’s line up, the 2016 Tahoe and Corvette, 2015 Silverado LD, HD, 2016 Trax, 2016 Volt and others. Waivers and guidelines must be followed before test drive. Chevrolet Park Plaza is located northeast of the Top o’ Texas Tower and the Midway.
12. Classic Corral
Owners, club members and enthusiasts show off their vintage collections of automobiles. You can find these timeless cars near the Gate 5 entrance. The Classic Corral brings yesterday’s best ranging from customized muscle cars, domestic and import and even motorcycles. Members rotate their showcases so make sure to plan accordingly.
13. Family Fun
If you’re a parent like myself, you want to make sure your child is active and entertained. There are several activities and exhibits you and your kiddos can enjoy at the State Fair of Texas. The fair brings the farm to you. With Big Tex’s Farmland and Little Hands on the Farm, children can interact with animals and learn about farm life, agriculture and harvesting. If you are looking for other hands-on experiences check out the Children’s Health Barnyard where youngsters can browse a variety of farm animals allowing them to feed and pet the furry little creatures.
Do you have a future farmer or cowboy/cowgirl on your hands? The Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pulls and Pee Wee Stampede allow your little fairgoers to experience mock-rodeo events while riding stick horses and pedal along vintage pedal tractors. The Oak Farms Children’s Activity Center is another great choice to visit. Presented by the Dallas Public Library, the Backyard Circus and Mother Goose Story Time offer your little rugrats a chance to dress up and become part of the show and listen to your favorite childhood stories and songs. This is a definite must for the younger crowd.
14. Pig Races/ Dog Shows
With over 100 performances around the State Fair of Texas there are so many options for everyone. Pig races, Jump! Ultimate Dog Show and more are great entertainment. Give yourself a chance to sit and take a break while you cheer on those adorable curly-tailed pigs racing towards the finish line. Located in the Pan-Am arena, shows are featured daily, so make sure to plan ahead.
15. Ag Awareness Day & Farm Day at the Fair
Help support the cause. Each day brings its own uniqueness to the fair. On Tuesday, October 6th, the State Fair of Texas and Dairy Max will celebrate awareness of agriculture and its role in modern society. A special presentation and concert will be held.
Farm Day at the Fair is geared towards 3rd & 4th graders promoting awareness and importance of agriculture in urban youth. A Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) based program that will be providing an in-class learning outing to the Fair Park. This great learning program will be held October 7, 8, 12, and 15th.
Sing along with me, “Big Tex had a farm E-I-E-I-O. “ Plan to check out the hundreds of livestock gathered at the State Fair of Texas. Over 5,200 students participate in the youth contest. Don’t worry about having your own livestock there; just wrangle up your friends and come by to support this great cause and dedication these children put out all year long.
17. Horse Shows
Along with the livestock, the Horse Shows are a great sight to see. Several breeds of horses will participate in equestrian events. While some were held before the start of the fair, other shows fairgoers might find are the Donkey and Mule Show, 4 x 4 Chute Out Invitational, and Ranch Sorting.
18. Auction and Scholarship Programs
Promoting agricultural education is one of the State Fair of Texas’ prominent passions. Dallas business communities and program leaders carry special events throughout the year providing $1 million annually in scholarships for Texas youth. Funding education for over 60 years, committees hold a Youth Livestock Auction for more than 250 4-H and FFA youth exhibitors. Other supporting events include, Big Tex Champion Club, Sporting Clay Shoot, State Fair Raffle, and the Big Tex Golf Classic. Fairgoers have opportunity to participate in the fun and give back to the agricultural world.
19. Celebrity Chef Kitchen and Competition Kitchen
Gordon Ramsey who? Located in the Creative Arts building fairgoers can find both of these culinary events. Celebrity Chef Kitchen is mustering up the finest chefs in the most prominent restaurants in Texas. Come by and see as chefs prepare popular dishes among their restaurants. Each chef will also be sharing tips and answering questions from audience members.
If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Competitors will battle it out in this new and challenging event. Each day, Competition Kitchen will hold several cook-offs including popular events like cake and cookie baking, one-pot meals and Red River Rivalry-themed biscuit challenge.
20. Take time to stop and smell the roses
Searching for some peace and tranquility? Well, we can’t say you will find much of that at the fair but there are several places around Fair Park you can find and escape from the large crowds. There are more than 40 landscaping firms that display the beauty of Texas. So take time to stop and smell the roses. All landscaping along Fair Park are credited to the State Fair Fall Garden Program. You can also find the talented local artist outdoor sculpture’s exhibit along First Avenue (lagoon to the Band Shell.)
21. Beer & Wine Gardens
Beer and wine lovers rejoice. The State Fair of Texas did not leave you guys out. Around Fair Park you will find a few places to grab local beer or wine native to Texas. Magnolia Beer Garden is located in the courtyard of the historic Magnolia Lounge. Beer connoisseurs can relish in a selection of Texas, craft and international beers. And for you “wine-o’s” out there the State Fair of Texas offers a sweet wine garden that features over 40 Texas wineries. Just between the Food and Fiber Pavilion and the Pan-Am Arena is where you can find this cozy garden.
Both featured gardens are a great way to unwind after all that fair food and walking.
22. Experience Culture
Fair Park is home to some of Dallas’ best museums, exhibits and educational discovery centers. At this National historic landmark visitors can embark on Dallas’ Children Aquarium, Texas Discovery Gardens, African American Museum, Hall of State, Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Continental DAR House and 1936 Texas Centennial Exhibition. Days and hours may vary for some exhibits and slight fee may be charged upon arrival.
Looking to bring home a piece of the State Fair of Texas with you? Vendors among vendors line up along the fair grounds occupying more than 400,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. A 24-day shopping spree that gives fairgoers plenty to choose from, ranging anywhere from art pieces, handcrafted memorabilia, jewelry, the latest kitchen gadgets, mattresses and much more. Click here for the State Fair shopping guide.
24. State Fair of Texas Cookbook
Imagine a world where State Fair of Texas foods can be eaten all year round. Yes I said it, ALL YEAR. Fairgoers can pick up the latest collection of Prize Winning Recipes from the Creative Arts Competition. There is something for everyone to enjoy. You can order your SFT Cookbooks online or pick up from the Creative Arts Building for a fee of $25.
25. Bright lights in Texas
As the Texas sunset slowly sets there are a few perfect ways to close out the day at the State Fair of Texas. On each night at 7:15 p.m. the Starlight Parade will appear spreading fun that includes a lighted procession full of amazing floats, volunteers, beloved characters and vibrant music. Another wonderful sight to see is the Mattress Firm’s Illumination Sensation. Around 8 p.m. every night, the light-up water works of color and pyrotechnics dancing along Esplanade reflecting pool can amaze fairgoers celebrating pride and joy of Texas heritage as well as American pride.
The State Fair of Texas runs September 25th thru October 18th. Tickets are available online and at selected grocery stores. Come join a tradition as BIG as Texas! Leave a comment and share what things you think people must see and do at the 2015 Texas State Fair.
The State Fair is just one event per year. For more family friendly event and party ideas check out our Things to Do section, the Jump Houses Dallas Party Blog, Parties for Pennies, Party Bluprints, or rent a water slide for any outdoor warm weather event.