Your Guide to the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas is a treasured annual event, happening for more than 130 years, offering 100 free attractions, 70 midway rides, and plenty of fried food options. More than 2 million people are expected to pass through the gates of Fair Park this fall between Sept. 27-Oct. 20.

Here’s what not to miss.

Wave howdy to Big Tex as you enter the Fair. The 55-foot-tall cowboy wearing a 95-gallon hat has been welcoming folks since 1952, and he’s one of the Fair’s most popular selfie attractions.

Climb aboard the Texas Star and get a bird’s-eye view of Dallas (and on a clear day, even Fort Worth) from 212 feet up in the air. The Ferris wheel was, for a time, the tallest in North America, and today remains the tallest in Texas.

Chow down on a Fletcher’s Corny Dog (or two), the most-celebrated snack at an event that’s known for its outrageous fried food. Fletcher’s has been selling the famous hot dog-on-a-stick since 1942, and its top-secret formula is kept closely guarded.

See the shows

Music is a huge part of the Fair, with live concerts happening on five stages throughout the 24 days (and included in your ticket!). Past performers have included everyone from Ludacris to Hunter Hayes, spanning all genres and making sure the fairgrounds are never without good tunes.

Drop by the Texas Auto Show, the largest new-car auto show in the Southwest, which showcases 400 of the latest models from the world’s leading manufacturers. It’s four-wheel fun for all ages, and a great stop for the gearhead in your life.

Each night at 8 pm, the Esplanade reflecting pool becomes the scene of the Mattress Firm Illumination Sensation water and laser show that features sparkling fireworks, liquid-fire fountains, dancing waters, and colorful music.

Also nightly at 7:15 pm is the Starlight Parade, a procession of 10 Texas-themed floats accompanied by lively music, costumed characters, historic parade wagons and stilt walkers.

Animals: Look and touch

The Fair’s rooted in the culture of farming, and there are plenty of exhibitions and interactive stations to help visitors of all ages learn more. More than 5,200 students participate each year in youth events and leadership contests, and kids can get hands-on at Little Hands at the Farm, the Milking Parlor, and Big Tex’s Farmyard.

Visit cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, chickens and even llamas in the barns, and cheer on the piglets running in the Pig Races.

New this year

After a six-year hiatus, World of Birds Show Presents: SOAR! returns with an abundance of aviary info and stunning stunts. Another family-friendly show is ¡Fiestas de Marionetas!, which brings a village of more than 85 handmade marionettes to life to celebrate a fiesta of color, culture and creativity.

Splashdance! combines a high-energy performance of professional dancers and acrobats performing in harmony with the Esplanade fountains.

Mary McKinny
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