Go-To Guide for the Texas State Fair: When to Attend + What To Do

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We like to say everything is bigger in Texas, and the state fair is the perfect example of that! The celebration lasts for days with countless activities for you to enjoy. That’s why before people visit us, they always ask, when is the Texas State Fair?

The Texas State Fair starts on the last Friday in September. It runs from 10 AM to 9 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM to 10 PM on weekends. This remarkable celebration continues for 24 consecutive days, making the fair the longest in the nation!

Let’s dive into the Texas Fair schedule and what food and activities you can enjoy here.

Dallas Texas US October 17 2019 Entrance to the State Fair of Texas in Fair Park Dallas an annual state fair taken place since 1886. - Texas View

Texas State Fair

One of the Lone Star State’s biggest attractions is our state fair. Not only is it the largest in the nation, but it also runs for the longest period. The fair starts on the last Friday in September and lasts 24 days.

The fair runs consecutively, so it doesn’t take any weekly breaks. This makes it ideal for a weekend trip with the family.

Moreover, the fair is open to the public for about 11-12 hours, depending on the day you visit.

  • Sundays to Thursdays: 10 AM to 9 PM
  • Friday to Saturday: 10 AM to 10 PM

General Information for the Texas State Fair

  1. Dates and Location:
    • The Texas State Fair usually takes place in late September to October.
    • Held at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.
  2. Main Attractions:
    • Livestock exhibitions and competitions.
    • Amusement rides and midway games.
    • Live music and entertainment.
    • A variety of food vendors, including famous Texas cuisine.
  3. Educational and Cultural Exhibits:
    • Showcases of Texas history and culture.
    • Educational activities and exhibits for all ages.
  4. Special Events:
    • The fair often features concerts, auto shows, and other special events.

Planning Your Visit

  • Accommodations: It’s advisable to book accommodations well in advance, as hotels near Fair Park can fill up quickly.
  • Transportation: Consider transportation options such as public transit, parking availability, and ride-sharing services.
  • Tickets: Look out for advance ticket sales, often saving you money and time.

Staying Updated for 2024

  • Official Website: Visit the Texas State Fair Official Website for the latest information, ticket sales, event schedules, and more.
  • Social Media: Following the Texas State Fair on social media platforms can provide timely updates and announcements.

Accessibility and Accommodations

The fair is known for being accessible to visitors with disabilities, offering services like wheelchair rentals and accessible transportation within the fairgrounds.

Contact Information

For specific inquiries about the 2024 fair, including potential vendor information or participation in events, you can contact the fair’s administration:

Remember, the Texas State Fair is a dynamic event, and each year brings its unique themes and special attractions. Checking the official sources closer to the date will ensure you have the most current information for your 2024 visit.

a bunch of flags that are hanging in the air

What Can You Do at the Texas State Fair?

Every year, the Texas State Fair attracts thousands of visitors. The fair offers an almost endless supply of activities to keep them entertained.

You can go on all sorts of rides and enjoy live performances. The fair even has a petting zoo! For this reason, it doesn’t matter if you go to the fair alone or with friends and family; everyone should be able to find something they’ll enjoy.

Let’s examine some of the activities you can do at the Texas State Fair.

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Watch the Opening Day Parade

The Texas State Fair loves to start with a bang! Nothing more than watching the opening day parade will get you into the festive spirit.

With hundreds of marchers, you can see something new in every direction. Some of the major attractions include:

  • Colorful floats
  • Vintage car show
  • Cowboys
  • Cheerleaders
  • Marching bands

The parade starts at noon and can go on for hours. So, consider bringing an umbrella to protect you from the scorching sun to enjoy the show.

If you miss the opening day parade, don’t panic. The Starlight parade includes many of the same performances and runs every night at 7:15 PM.

Visit Big Tex

Big Tex has been a staple of the Texas State Fair since 1952. The official greeter (and icon) is hard to miss as he watches over everyone at the fair.

When Big Tex first appeared, he stood about 49 feet tall. While this was impressive, it wasn’t his final form.

The giant needed a makeover after an unfortunate fire during Big Tex’s 60th. Just like any proud Texan, Tex came back bigger than ever. Today the giant stands at around 55 feet.

So, to kick off the festivities, an unofficial tradition of the Texas State Fair is to visit Big Tex. Be sure to mainline it to the gentle giant to start the fun.

State Fair of Texas September 2019 2 - Texas View

Enjoy Live Music Performances

Music is a major part of the Texas State Fair. The fair has multiple live performances throughout its run.

Every year, the artists are a little different. This keeps the acts fresh and exciting. So, before you stop by, you may want to check out the performance lineup.

Fair Park’s main stage is where most of the performances occur. However, you’ll also find many small stages scattered around the area.

The performances tend to be at night, towards the end of the day. This makes it the perfect way to round out an exhausting day.

Go on Rides

No matter what age you are, we all like going on rides. Luckily, the Texas State Fair has plenty of rides for you to choose from.

Still, the most popular ride is the Texas Star. The giant Ferris wheel usually has a never-ending line of people waiting for a ride.

You can spot the Texas Star from miles away. It can carry up to 264 passengers at the same time. The wheel’s size ensures a fantastic view of the whole fair from the top.

State Fair of Texas September 2019 - Texas View

Ticket Prices and Where to Purchase Them

Ticket prices for the Texas State Fair vary depending on age, the day of the week, and any special promotions that might be running. Generally, tickets are available for purchase both online and at the gate. Here’s a breakdown:

Ticket Prices

  1. General Admission
    • Adults: Typically, the price ranges from $15 to $20.
    • Children (under 48 inches tall): Usually less than adult admission, around $10 to $15.
    • Seniors (60 and over): Often have a discounted rate similar to children’s prices.
  2. Season Passes
    • For those planning to visit multiple days, season passes offer unlimited visits throughout the fair and can be a cost-effective option.
  3. Group Tickets
    • Discounts may be available for large groups. It’s advisable to check the fair’s official website or contact their sales office for details.
Texas State Fair rides - Texas View

Where to Purchase Tickets

  1. Online:
    • The most convenient way to purchase tickets is through the Texas State Fair’s official website. Here, you can also find information about any online discounts or special offers.
    • Some third-party websites may also sell fair tickets, but it’s always safest to buy directly from the official source to avoid potential scams.
  2. At the Gate:
    • Tickets can be purchased at the entrance gates of Fair Park during the fair. However, remember that lines can be long, especially on weekends and special event days.
  3. Retail Outlets:
    • In some years, tickets are available at retail partners in the Dallas area. Check the fair’s website or local news for announcements about these partnerships.

Special Promotions

  • The fair offers special promotions, including discounted tickets for certain groups (like military personnel or students) or on specific days.
  • Promotions might also be tied to events within the fair, like concerts or rodeos, so it’s worth checking if combo tickets are available.

Tips for Purchasing Tickets

  • Buy Early: Especially for special events or concerts, purchasing tickets as early as possible is a good idea to ensure availability.
  • Check for Discounts: Look for any potential discounts you may qualify for, such as age-based discounts or special promotional days.
  • Read the Fine Print: Be sure to understand the terms and conditions, especially if buying tickets for a specific event or concert.

Always refer to the Texas State Fair’s official website for current ticket information, prices, and purchasing options.

MISSION TX – OCTOBER 2009 The King and Queen at the Texas Renaissance Festival known as the largest in the state and taken on October 17 2009 in Mission - Texas View

What Food Can You Find in the Texas State Fair?

Even though we all enjoy the rides and performances, it’s not what it’s all about. As any true Texan will tell you, the most important part of the fair is the food.

Regarding food, everything isn’t just bigger in Texas, it’s also fried. If you can dream it, someone has probably fried it up for the fair.

There are so many new things for you to try out and experience:

Food TypeBest Place to Find It
Corny dogsFletcher’s
Turkey legs, cotton candy, and popcornConcession stands
Gourmet MealsCutco Celebrity Chef Kitchen
Food and Locations at Texas State Fair

Most of the food at the fair is incredibly enticing. However, this can be bad for your wallet. If you’re on a budget, take advantage of Thrifty Thursdays. Most of the food and beverages will be at a discount.

Texas State Fair Ferris Wheel - Texas View
Camera 360

Exhibits and Competitions at The Fair

The Texas State Fair is renowned for its wide array of exhibits and competitions that cater to diverse interests and age groups. These attractions are a major draw for visitors each year and contribute to the fair’s reputation as a showcase of Texan talent, culture, and innovation. Here’s an overview of some key exhibits and competitions you can expect:

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Exhibits

  1. Auto Show: One of the fair’s most popular attractions, showcasing the latest models of cars, trucks, and SUVs from various manufacturers.
  2. Texas Agriculture: Exhibits highlighting Texas’ agricultural industry, including educational displays about farming, ranching, and wildlife conservation.
  3. Creative Arts Building: Home to a wide range of arts and crafts exhibits, including cooking, photography, quilting, and fine arts competitions.
  4. Livestock Exhibits: Featuring various breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, offering insights into the state’s livestock industry.
  5. Cultural Exhibits: Celebrating Texas’ diverse cultural heritage with displays on history, art, and music from different communities within the state.
  6. Science and Technology: Interactive exhibits focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), highlighting innovations and educational initiatives.
  7. Marketplace: A shopping area where vendors sell unique products, ranging from homemade crafts to Texas-themed merchandise.

Competitions

  1. Livestock Competitions: Key events where breeders and farmers showcase their best animals in categories like cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry.
  2. Creative Arts Competitions: Participants compete in various categories like baking, canning, needlework, and other crafts, showcasing their skills and creativity.
  3. Youth Competitions: Including various contests for children and teenagers, such as art, writing, and public speaking, promoting talent and skill development among the youth.
  4. Cooking Contests: Competitions in different culinary categories, often reflecting Texan flavors and traditions, are a big draw for food enthusiasts.
  5. Agricultural Competitions: Contests related to farming and ranching practices, including crop growing, livestock handling, and agricultural mechanics.
  6. Horticulture Competitions: Featuring beautifully designed gardens and floral arrangements, showcasing the skills of Texas gardeners and florists.
State Fair of Texas September 2019 22 - Texas View

Transportation and Parking Options for The Texas State Fair

The Texas State Fair, held annually at Fair Park in Dallas, offers various transportation and parking options to accommodate many visitors. Here’s a guide to help you plan your visit:

1. Parking at Fair Park

  • On-Site Parking: Fair Park has several official parking lots. These are typically paid lots with varying fees. Accessible parking is available for visitors with disabilities.
  • Off-Site Parking: There are also numerous private parking options around Fair Park. Prices and availability can vary.

2. Public Transportation

  • DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit): One of the most convenient ways to get to the fair is using DART. Two stations are nearby – Fair Park Station and MLK, Jr. Station. Visitors can use DART’s buses and light rail services from various locations in Dallas.
  • DART Passes: Consider buying a day pass for unlimited rides on DART services.

3. Ride-Sharing and Taxis

  • Services like Uber and Lyft operate in Dallas and can drop visitors at designated points near Fair Park.
  • Taxis are another option, with several companies offering services in the area.

4. Biking

  • Biking at the fair is a feasible option for locals or those staying nearby. There are bike racks available around Fair Park.

5. Special Transportation Services

  • Special shuttle services are often offered during the fair from various Dallas locations. Check the fair’s official website for any announcements regarding this service.

6. Parking for RVs and Oversized Vehicles

  • Fair Park accommodates RVs and oversized vehicles, but checking availability and fees in advance is best.

7. Accessibility

  • Fair Park is accessible to visitors with disabilities. There are accessible parking spaces, and the DART system is equipped to accommodate visitors with mobility needs.

Planning Tips

  • Buy Parking in Advance: If possible, purchase parking passes online to ensure a spot and possibly save on costs.
  • Check the Fair’s Website: Before your visit, check the Texas State Fair’s official website for the most current information on transportation, parking, and any special services.
  • Consider Off-Peak Hours: To avoid traffic and parking issues, visit during off-peak hours or weekdays.
State Fair of Texas September 2019 08 - Texas View

History and Significance in Texas

The Texas State Fair, held annually at Fair Park in Dallas, is a cultural landmark with a rich history that underscores its significance in Texas. Here’s an overview of its history and the role it plays in the state:

History

  1. Origin (1886): The Texas State Fair began in 1886 when a group of Dallas businessmen wanted to showcase the state’s agricultural and industrial achievements. The fair has since evolved into one of the largest and most popular state fairs in the United States.
  2. Fair Park: The fairgrounds, known as Fair Park, have been the event’s home since its inception. This location is significant as it has been a central hub for cultural and social events in Dallas for over a century.
  3. 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition: A pivotal moment in the fair’s history was the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, which celebrated 100 years of Texas independence from Mexico. This event brought major developments to Fair Park, including the construction of several Art Deco buildings that remain icons today.
  4. Historical Landmarks: Many of Fair Park’s structures have been designated as historical landmarks, reflecting their architectural and cultural importance.

Significance in Texas

  1. Economic Impact: The fair significantly contributes to the Texas economy, generating substantial revenue for Dallas and creating numerous seasonal jobs.
  2. Cultural Representation: It is a vibrant showcase of Texas’ diverse cultures, with numerous exhibitions and events featuring Texan art, music, and cuisine.
  3. Educational Opportunities: The fair offers educational programs, livestock competitions, and scholarships, vital in supporting agricultural education and youth development in Texas.
  4. Social Impact: It’s a social event that brings together people from all over the state and beyond, fostering community spirit and statewide pride.
  5. Iconic Symbols: The fair is home to “Big Tex,” a towering cowboy figure that has become an iconic symbol of the event and a beloved mascot in Texas culture.
  6. Innovation and Progress: Over the years, the fair has been a platform for introducing innovations (like new food items and technological advancements) and for addressing social issues through themed exhibitions and community programs.
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Annual Traditions

  • Auto Show: The Texas State Fair hosts one of the largest new car auto shows in the Southwest.
  • Livestock Competitions: These competitions are central to the fair’s agricultural heritage.
  • Musical Performances: The fair features various musical acts, from local bands to international stars.
  • State Fair Classic: A celebrated annual college football game that draws large crowds.
State Fair of Texas September 2019 29 Hall of State - Texas View

Accommodations and Lodging Options

For out-of-town visitors attending the Texas State Fair, numerous accommodation options are in the vicinity, catering to various preferences and budgets. Below is a list of nearby lodging choices, including hotels and other accommodations, along with details and links for each:

Hotels

  1. Omni Dallas Hotel
    • Details: A luxurious hotel known for its exceptional service and amenities, including a pool, spa, and multiple dining options.
    • Location: Downtown Dallas, close to the fairgrounds.
    • Website: Omni Dallas Hotel
  2. Hyatt Regency Dallas
    • Details: Offers spacious rooms with stunning city views and features facilities like an outdoor pool and a fitness center.
    • Location: In the heart of downtown Dallas.
    • Website: Hyatt Regency Dallas
  3. The Fairmont Dallas
    • Details: Known for its elegant rooms and fine dining options, it also includes a rooftop garden and pool.
    • Location: Arts District, downtown Dallas.
    • Website: The Fairmont Dallas
  4. Magnolia Hotel Dallas Downtown
    • Details: A boutique hotel offering a unique blend of historical charm and modern comforts.
    • Location: Close to the Dallas Arts District.
    • Website: Magnolia Hotel Dallas Downtown
  5. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Dallas Downtown

Alternative Accommodations

  1. Airbnb Listings
    • Details: Various options, ranging from apartments to entire homes, are suitable for different group sizes.
    • Location: Throughout Dallas, with several near the fairgrounds.
    • Website: Airbnb – Dallas
  2. VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner)
    • Details: Offers a selection of rental homes and apartments, providing a more private and home-like environment.
    • Location: Scattered around Dallas, including areas close to the fair.
    • Website: VRBO – Dallas
View from Top o Texas Tower September 2019 04 Midway - Texas View

Accessibility Services at the Texas State Fair

The Texas State Fair is committed to ensuring accessibility for all visitors, including those with disabilities. Here are the key accessibility options and services provided to enhance the experience for visitors with disabilities:

  1. Wheelchair and Electric Scooter Rental:
    • Available for rent at the fairgrounds.
    • Located at various gates for convenience.
    • Advanced reservation options may be available.
  2. Accessible Parking:
    • Designated parking areas for visitors with disabilities.
    • Located near entrance gates for easier access.
  3. Accessible Transportation within the Fairgrounds:
    • Trams and shuttles that are wheelchair accessible.
    • Helps visitors with mobility issues navigate the fairgrounds more easily.
  4. Service Animals:
    • Service animals are welcome and accommodated throughout the fairgrounds.
  5. Accessible Seating at Shows and Concerts:
    • Venues within the fair offer accessible seating areas.
    • It’s advisable to arrive early or notify the event staff for assistance.
  6. Restrooms:
    • Accessible restrooms are available throughout the fairgrounds.
  7. Sign Language Interpreters:
    • Available for certain shows and events.
    • It is recommended to inquire ahead of time for specific interpreter services.
  8. Information Booths:
    • Located around the fairgrounds.
    • Provide assistance and information about accessibility services.

Tips for Visitors with Disabilities

  • Plan Ahead: Check the fair’s website or contact customer service for detailed information on accessibility services and any pre-booking requirements.
  • Arrive Early: This allows for easier parking and seating, especially during peak hours or special events.
  • Inquire About Special Accommodations: Don’t hesitate to ask fair staff for any specific needs or assistance.

Contact for More Information

For more detailed and specific information about accessibility options, it’s best to contact the Texas State Fair’s customer service or visit their official website. They can provide the most current and comprehensive information regarding services for visitors with disabilities.

Ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all visitors is a priority for the Texas State Fair, and they are typically very responsive to the needs of guests with disabilities.

Texas State Fair FAQs

What Are Fair Coupons?

You’ll need a coupon to buy food or go on any ride. You can buy these coupons at multiple booths around the fair.

How Much Do Fair Coupons Cost?

Both food and ride coupons cost about $1 each.

How Much Does Food Cost at the Fair?

The prices will be slightly different depending on where you decide to eat. The Texas State Fair only sets the prices for the parking and entrance tickets. All other small businesses and concessions set their prices for their product.

References

Author Profile

Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

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