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State Fair of Texas - An Annual Tradition

Updated on August 24, 2015

If you’ve never attended the State Fair of Texas, Dallas held annually for 3 ½ weeks through the month of October in Fair Park (the Dallas area), you’ve missed a world of excitement. One of the largest and most prominent state fairs in the United States, the event draws visitors not just from all over the state of Texas but throughout the country. Livestock shows, sales booths, activities, games on the fairway, rides, auto shows, entertainment, football, and let’s not forget amazing and ridiculously unhealthy but delicious foods all draw crowds by the hundreds of thousands to the fair year after year.

What is special about the State Fair of Texas? A shorter explanation would cover the things that are NOT so special, but for those who are considering a trip to the annual event this fall, here is a brief overview of some of the things you can expect to see and enjoy during your time at the fair.

1927 Ford Model T

The State Fair of Texas Auto Show

Okay, so one thing you can truly expect to find at the State Fair of Texas is lots of sunshine and heat, since summer lasts into October in the Lone Star State. However, the auto show offers relief from the burning hot sun with air conditioning in an enclosed building. It also offers the simplest way to view all the cars available from every major manufacturer that sells automobiles in the United States. You can compare, contrast, sit in the vehicle, and do everything but take it for a test drive. You also have the added bonus of viewing unreleased new vehicles as well as intriguing and inventive concept cars of the future.

The State Fair of Texas Auto Show is a tradition, and is an integral part of the event. You’ll be able to speak with salesmen and factory reps, getting answers to pertinent questions you have so that you can make a more informed decision the next time you go car shopping. And, because you’ve compared all the makes and models, you’ll be quicker to decide which one you intend to purchase when the time comes.

Texas State Fair Entertainment

At the State Fair of Texas, there is some form of entertainment for everyone. There are free concerts that you can attend with fair admission, as well as bigger concerts and events that take place inside the Cotton Bowl and other buildings in Fair Park (like the Science Place) for an extra charge. Each Saturday of the event, you’ll find an important college game played at the Cotton Bowl, with the biggest rivalry in Texas – the Texas-OU game – usually taking place on one of these weekends.

There are smaller shows as well, including things like belly dancers in the public square, acrobatics, Frisbee-catching dogs, racing pigs, and more. The livestock shows run throughout the course of the event, with a number of prizes being awarded to all manner of animals. There is something for people of all ages, including a petting zoo area in which you can purchase feed for the animals or simply walk through and pet the likes of donkeys, goats, ostriches, bulls, calves, pigs, and much more.

Day at The Great State Fair of Texas 2006

US & Texas flags

There are other entertaining events as well that vary from one year to another. In the past, there have been juggling acts, interactive shows where you receive dance lessons, and even broadcasting disc jockeys and talk show hosts to area radio stations. There is certainly no shortage of entertainment and activity at the State Fair of Texas.

State Fair of Texas Art and Vending

You can enter one of the many air-conditioned buildings to escape the heat again for the Taste of Texas, where various manufacturers allow you to taste their wares in hopes that you will buy them. Cooking shows featuring the best in cookware are offered, and you’ll find that arts, crafts, and other materials are not only for sale but also judged in events for prizes in various categories and displayed for your pleasure as well.

Other vendors are set up in booths outside, including cellular phone vendors, personal souvenir creation vendors, travel agencies, charities, and much more. You’ll also find some of the best gourmet chocolates, nuts, and other delicious specialty confections offered at indoor locations (the chocolate would melt in a hurry outdoors!). You’ll even find regional accessories, some related to the Texas culture and others representing cultures worldwide. Don’t forget to stop by the western wear shops or the hat shops and pick up a pair of authentic leather boots or a Stetson, the cowboy hat of Texas!

The Fairway and the Midway

The Fairway is the location of the majority of the rides you’ll find at the State Fair of Texas. Basically, the fair is like an enormous carnival, with hundreds of different traveling carnivals paying for their spot to set up. So, as you can imagine, you have the typical carnival rides, as well as a few small roller coasters that are set up every year. Look for Spiders, Hammerheads, Kamikazees, Himalayas, Orbitals, Teacups, Swings, and more as part of the traditional rides you can count on. You’ll also find funhouses and haunted houses to tour. The one ride that never comes down and never travels is the Texas Star, the enormous ferris wheel that sits in the middle of the fair and stays standing year round as a symbol to passers by along the freeways of North Texas.

Texas State Fair 07 - Interview swith Fair workers

With these carnival acts, you’ll also get the game booths, which band together to make an enormous midway through which you can walk and almost lose yourself, wondering if you’ll ever find your way to another part of the fair in this endless choice of games to play for prizes. Ring tosses, roulette games, fishing for prizes, dart throws, milk bottle breaking, shooting hoops, and all the traditional games of the carnivals are lined up for your enjoyment (and exploitation!).

Texas Food!

One part of the State Fair of Texas that no visitor should ignore is the food. You won’t believe the variety of fried items you can find at this event. Of course, you have your typical State Fair Corn Dogs and your funnel cakes, as well as turkey legs, cotton candy, sponsored soft drinks, fries, and other general sideshow foods. However, the menus have gotten more and more creative as years have passed, adding more friend items to the list than you could ever have imagined.

Fried pickles may have been the first big edition, a recipe picked up from Cajun neighbors in Louisiana. Of course, the real disbelief came with the addition of friend Twinkies. From there it progresses to fried Ding Dongs, and then everything that you could stick in a deep fryer seemed to pop onto the menu at some point or other. In a recent year, there was an offering of fried Coke, which is still difficult to understand (but tastes fantastic!). It will be interesting to see what they come up with this year!

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    • profile image

      Kim 6 years ago

      Don't forget to see the Home of the Future Exhibit. It's a 1600 sq ft. home using Netzero energy. They will teach you about how to have zero energy bills. Located near the Women's Museum.

    • profile image

      CHARLIE 8 years ago

      cant wait for this years state fair too dadgum excited now yee haw

    • johnb0127 profile image

      johnb0127 8 years ago from TX

      The State Fair really is a great place to visit! Thanks for the great hub!