As a Texas girl who doesn’t travel much, I have found there are several adventures right here in our own backyard which can tantalize the imagination beyond belief! The State Fair of Texas has been on my bucket list, and last year I had the opportunity to stand in awe viewing Big Tex, the 52 foot tall cowboy, as he welcomed young and old alike to experience the many varied activities that our state fair has had to offer since 1886.
If you are looking for a fun trek, the state fair is held “just up the road.” Beginning September 26th in Fair Park, Dallas, Big Tex will welcome you and visitors from all around to experience a Texas-sized adventure. From the popular midway with rides to enticing fried-food phenomena that only Texas can deliver, there is something for everyone at the fair. Here are a few of the many different activities and/or food options you won’t want to miss on your visit.
Daily Shows and Entertainment
Fairgoers can enjoy shows from top-notch entertainers to pig races on any given day of the fair. There are several different shows/events going on at any given time. There are approximately 100 different shows and live entertainments on the various stages and arenas located throughout the fairgrounds.
One of my favorite was Jump – The Ultimate Dog Show which takes place in the Pan-AM Arena, along with the pig races and ostrich races, to name just a few. If you want to see some daredevil stunts, be sure to check out the BMX Bike Stunt Show or the MAPAPA African Acrobats performing near the Auto Show. There are even shows and entertainment for the youngest fairgoers. Be sure to take them to the Little Hands on the Farm, where they can experience life on a miniature farm, or they can get up close to the animals while visiting the Children’s Barnyard. Whatever your likes, there are entertaining shows for you; check out the daily schedule at bigtex.com/schedule and plan your day.
End your visit to the fair with two nightly traditions – the Starlight Parade and Illumination Sensation. What a great way to end a wonderful day enjoying fun characters on illuminated floats, fireworks, and music.
Let’s not forget the always popular livestock events. Every year, more than 5,200 students participate in the various contests trying to make it to the Youth Livestock Auction of Champions. Young exhibitors hope all the time and energy they have invested will get them the prestigious honor of selling their projects in a live auction, with the possibility of walking away with grand champion honors. For information about the different livestock shows, check out the schedules at bigtex.com/livestock/shows.
The State Fair of Texas is home to one of Southwest’s largest auto shows. Fairgoers can see the latest and greatest in the automobile world. It’s easy to lose yourself inside the 400,000 sq. ft. space housing the numerous displays and interactive activities. Trust me, I know firsthand; we stopped to join in the fun at one of the many activities, then turned around, and our friend had disappeared. It took us several minutes to relocate her, but what a great place to get lost! Every kind of vehicle one could ever dream of can be found here. The auto show building will be open Sunday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Whether you’re young or old, the sights and sounds of the midway will beckon all ages to try their hand at throwing darts or balls in the arcade or to board a ride for pleasure or thrills. This year, there will be over 70 rides to test your daredevil side and keep you and your family and/or friends entertained for several hours. For younger fairgoers, be sure to stop by the Radio Disney Kidway area, where children as young as 2 years of age can enjoy rides and games suitable just for them.
A few rides you won’t want to miss are: The Top o’ Texas Tower, which allows riders to soar 500 feet into the air and view downtown Dallas and surrounding areas; the Texas Star® Ferris Wheel, at 212 ft., the largest ferris wheel in Texas; Dentzel Carousel, which is a classic favorite of the fair; and the ever popular Log Flume, which gives fairgoers a chance to cool down on a hot, sunny day with a drop over a waterfall.
These are just a few of the many rides awaiting you and your family and friends.
Coupons are used to ride these rides and purchase food. Coupons are 50¢ each and can be purchased at coupon booths located throughout the fair. The average ride takes 10 to 12 coupons. To play games at the fair, you must purchase a game card, which can be purchased at booths located on the midway adjacent to the gaming areas.
Need a break from all the excitement? Stop by the Errol McKoy Greenhouse located on the Midway and enjoy music, activities and the Garden Railway.
Shopping – A Texas tradition
There are more than 15 different shopping locations throughout the fairgrounds. You can take time to browse booths with items for sale from jewelry, clothing, to unique one-of-a- kind gifts. There are even candy booths (which I will say was one of my favorite stops) and vendors selling specialty items. Just be forewarned, there is something for everyone!
Last but definitely not least, were the numerous different food booths to try. Also known as the Fried Food Capital of Texas®, food at the State Fair goes way beyond your typical corn dog and funnel cake. Fairgoers can experience just about any delicious fried food they can dream of—fried Snickers®, fried Coke®, fried Nutella®, and fried Millionaire Pie to just name a few—the list goes on and on. If you can eat it, it can be fried!
My favorite and a must try is the chicken fried bacon! Wow! Really good if you ask me. My friends also thought it wouldn’t be a memorable trip unless I tried the popular fried butter…not what I expected, but I can say I have tried it.
Of course, I couldn’t leave the fair without having funnel cake. My advice is to stick to the classics, but venture out and try the Big Tex Choice Award winners, which should be announced mid-September. Last year’s winner for Most Creative was Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (which I tried and have to say was well worth the money spent). The best-tasting food item for 2013 was the Fried Cuban Roll, which I didn’t try but heard was incredible.
There are also daily cooking competitions and demonstrations that fairgoers can enjoy. For a complete list of shows and times see the daily schedule at bigtex.com/schedule.
The State Fair of Texas was everything I imagined, plus some. It is a great adventure to enjoy with your family and friends. There is something for all ages, so you don’t have to worry about trying to schedule different events at different locations; everything you need is right there, all at one location. There are shows and rides that will capture the attention of everyone, and food that will tantalize your tastebuds and leave you wanting more.