Menu
Texas

Top Things To Do At The State Fair of Texas

I’ll let you in on a secret. I was inspired to visit the State Fair of Texas based on the 1962 film starring Tom Ewell and Alice Faye.

I have a mildly embarrassing obsession with movies from the mid-20th century and State Fair happens to be one of my personal favorites. The fair in the movie is portrayed as lighthearted and family-friendly and unique so I obviously went in with those preconceived notions.

Were they met? Yes.

In fact, the State Fair of Texas surpassed all of my expectations. It is so much more than a fair. Imagine if a carnival, museum, retail store, car show, performing arts center, and zoo teamed up to create a unique showcase, that would be the State Fair.

It has a little bit of everything and in true Texas-fashion, the fair is huge (everything is bigger in Texas, y’all). But don’t worry, I will help you navigate.

So put on your best walking shoes and let’s take a look at the highlights of the State Fair of Texas.

Strike a Pose With Big Tex

Top Things to Do At The State Fair of Texas Big Tex Talking and Smiling

Our first stop is Big Tex, a 55-foot tall talking statue donned in blue jeans and a modest 95 gallon wide-brimmed cowboy hat. He’s a movie star, making a cameo performance in the film State Fair. So obviously, we have to take a picture with him. Stand right there. Strike a pose. Hold it. Smile. Say Howdy.

And since this is our first stop, we can get a wonderfully clear shot with the big, blue Texan sky before a human current floods in for Fletcher’s corn (ahem, corny) dogs.

Try some Midway Games

Top Things to Do at the State Fair of Texas Midway Entrance

It is time to try some Midway games and rides! Do you see the ferris wheel over there? That is the Texas Star, the most popular fair ride for a good reason. If you are looking for some of the best views of the Midway (and don’t have a mild case of acrophobia, like me), you can circle slowly higher and higher into the sky and feel like Superman for one tiny moment. If you are fond of tamer rides, we could go for a spin on the swing carousel or even release our inner-child by winding down some candy-coloured slides.

Tour the Hall of State

Top Things to Do At the State Fair of Texas Hall of State Entrance and Statue

We are going to weave past Big Tex yet again and enter the Hall of State, one of the most underrated attractions at the State Fair. Each year, the Dallas Historical Society transforms the rooms into a  quasi-museum with set exhibits on some thematic elements of Texas’ history. Texas has a rich and colorful past that continues to hold onto an equally lively story. We catch a deeper glimpse of that story through the stark photographs and detailed pockets of texts on display. 

The 2016 Hall of State also hosts The Taylor Swift Experience, a main hall featuring Taylor Swift’s concert outfits and song snippets. Ten year old me would have gawked at the presentation (Love Story just released that year and it was all I would play on the piano for months).

Eat, Eat, Eat

Top Things To Do At the State Fair of Texas Eat A Corny Dog

Picture the kookiest deep-fried combo you can and I can almost guarantee it’s sold at Fair Park (if it isn’t, I’d suggest coming up with a recipe as quickly as you can and pitching your creation at next year’s fair). It’s crazy-fun to experiment with the different flavors but with hundreds to choose from, I’ll admit the decision can be mildly difficult.

READ  Must-See Art Museums In Fort Worth

Funnel Cake

State Fair of Texas: Best Food at the State Fair of Texas Funnel Cake Strawberry Powdered Sugar Topped

We’re warming up with some funnel cake. While funnel cake isn’t specific to the State Fair of Texas, it is a classic fair and carnival treat. Light and doughy, this pastry is dusted generously with powdered sugar and topped with some mildly tart, sweetened strawberries to cut the taste. You can even try one of the non-standard flavours, like red velvet or indulge in a rich funnel cake sundae. Excuse me while I make a mental note to run a few miles in the gym when I get home (why is such good food so bad for you?).

Fletcher’s Corny Dogs

Next stop, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. We arrive at Fletcher’s a few minutes after the concession opens (10 AM) and the line has already built up, but trust me, it’s worth the wait. During the 24-day run of the State Fair, Fletcher’s sells over half a million “corny” (yes, that is the actual name) dogs. Firm, thick meat wrapped within a crisp batter takes this traditional (and supposedly original) corn dog to a new level.

state-fair-of-texas-best-foods-at-the-state-fair-of-texas-green-sip-snack-chill-craft-beer-and-wine-flights
Honorable Mention: The Craft-Beer selling Trio provides a smooth, trendy hip ambiance contrasting to most of the other State Fair Vendors.

Cookie Fries

“Cookie fries? Seriously?” you think. “That sounds revolting.” Found in the Taste of Cuba booth near the Midway, this surprising snack may not be what you imagine. I’m in love with the creativity behind cookie fries and I’m sure you’ll will be as well. Traditional sprinkle cookies are given a crinkle cut appearance and served with a size of strawberry sauce that looks deceptively like ketchup. The packaging doubles the traditional deep-fried side-dish feel, making the combo insanely adorable! 

Wine

State Fair of Texas: Best Foods at the State Fair of Texas wine garden wine tasting craft beer live music stage

It’s time to wash all that food down with a drink. If you are over 21, head to the Texas Wine Garden and sample some wine from over 40 Texas wineries. We relax under the oak tree and tap our feet to some live beats at the Wine Garden Stage, sipping either local wine or organically sweetened cotton candy soda in a oddly tasty edible cup (best non-alcoholic drink at the State Fair of Texas). 

Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia

So far, I’ve introduced you to some smaller dishes. Let’s go ahead and indulge in the Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia, a meal bringing the summery taste of island-life to the fall without any level of shocking deep-fry madness (probably one of the healthiest items at the fair and also the most savory). A mound of rice sits in a hollowed-half pineapple brimming with grilled chicken and shrimp, all  topped with an aromatic tropical salsa. What is not to love?

Shop Till You Drop

Now that we’ve satisfied our appetite, it is time to shop. At the State Fair of Texas, you can find everything from Egyptian artisan crafts to Sterling silver, but the hub of vendors is situated in the Go Texan Pavilion. Here, we discover a medley of items: illustrated children’s books to craft soda.

Ford, Toyota, Chevy, Oh my!

Top Things To Do At the State Fair of Texas - Chevy Ride and Drive

The State Fair of Texas has the largest new car show in the entire Southwest. We walk from building to building and oggle at the sleek and shiny new models. But my favourite event has to be a little further out. A manageable distance from the Centennial and Automobile buildings is the Chevy Ride and Drive. If, like me, you are aching to drive a Corvette but don’t have the budget to do so, you can test drive one at the event. The line is leaner earlier on in the day and later in the day (try to avoid afternoon crowds). As a bonus, you can also pick up a free t-shirt in your size.

See the Livestock

Top Things To Do At the State Fair of Texas See the Livestock

One of the noticeable themes at the State Fair of Texas is agriculture. While that can be a difficult concept to integrate into a fun-focused fair, the State Fair of Texas does a great job. We circle around to the livestock and watch the animal auction. Afterwards, we take part in a little agriculture education through demonstrations and exhibits as well as witness all the barn animals. 

img_2917
Did I mention there are llamas?

Wine Garden

Top Things to Do At the State Fair of Texas Wine Garden Umbrellas

We’ve been walking for a while, so let’s let our feet rest a little in the Wine Garden courtyard.  A beautiful umbrella installment provides much needed shade from the Lone Star heat. The oak tree, beige exterior buildings, and insane array of wine samplings (over 40 kinds) converge to give a more Tuscan feel.

Catch a Concert

The last thing we are going to do is catch a concert at the Chevy Main Stage. Almost every night, different popular artists let their live vocal ripple across the fairgrounds (previous artists include Nelly, Cam, Becky G). The concerts are often held in the evenings or at night so they are the perfect way to wind down the day.

Did you enjoy my tour? Have you ever been to the State Fair of Texas? What are your top things to do at the State Fair of Texas? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing from y’all.

READ  12 Best Places To Eat In Fort Worth

Disclosure: The State Fair of Texas kindly sent me free tickets in exchange for some minor promotion. But I have been to the fair before and loved every minute of it. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are very much my own!

23 Comments

  • Avatar
    Jaclyn Bree
    October 23, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    Well, you certainly have made me want to go to Texas, one state that was just far enough away that I never even thought about it. It sounds so like the Calgary Stampede on steroids! And I love the Stampede therefore …. Texas! As boring as it might seem to some, I’d really love the agriculture bit 🙂

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      October 24, 2016 at 4:12 AM

      Agriculture is definitely not boring (but then again, I’m kind of a nerd)! The Calgary Stampede is the closest event to the State Fair of Texas that I can think of and on CS on steroids is quite an apt description. 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Wanderers Hub
    October 23, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    State Fair of Texas sure looks like a family-friendly place and has all the makings for a great weekend getaway. I love the wine garden.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 7:13 PM

      Yes! It is such a fantastic weekend getaway! The oodles of fried food would definitely be a treat for children (and adults with little self-control, like me). 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Keith Haney
    October 23, 2016 at 11:23 AM

    I do love a great county fair. It is a big deal here in our tiny community. The entire area stops. The state fair is Wisconsin was big too. Cream puffs and cheese curbs ruled the day.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 7:11 PM

      County fairs are so cute! I’m craving deep-fried cream puffs now! 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Theresa Sondjo
    October 23, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    State fairs are the BEST, hands down. Always tons of fun and always great for a relaxing day of sight-seeing and people watching. I hope the concert was fantastic!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      October 24, 2016 at 4:09 AM

      I totally agree! People-watching is such a fun activity, especially since people come from all sorts of different communities around the state 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Brittany Ferrell
    October 23, 2016 at 2:45 PM

    This looks like so much fun and although I have never been, I know this particular state fair is iconic. I have read that the food there is supposed to be the best! I did not know there was a wine garden! Yes! Thank you for the information and I love the pictures!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 7:11 PM

      The food there is indeed some of the best (and occasionally weirdest). Very creative gastronomic creations! Have a fabulous day, Brittany! 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Karla
    October 24, 2016 at 4:00 AM

    I think the movie State Fair is based on the Iowa State Fair – where I’m from (I haven’t seen the movie, but that’s what I heard). It’s a huge deal here. The hotels around Des Moines are all booked up well in advance. It seems the Texas State Fair would have a little different spin, which would be a lot of fun.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      October 24, 2016 at 4:06 AM

      I’ve heard a lot about the Iowa State Fair! The Musical on-stage Version (which is the original and I love that one as well) is definitely based off Iowa! 🙂 But the later movie reproduction is based off (and parts even filmed in) the fair in Dallas. I totally get what you mean about the hotels – people from all over Texas (and Oklahoma during the OU vs Texas football game) come! 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Karla
        October 24, 2016 at 4:54 AM

        I’ll have to check out both movies some time. I used to really be into old movies too, but since having kids, it seems we only watch children’s movies. Although, those would probably be pretty kid-friendly. I’ll have to order them from the library 🙂

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Nicki McLaren
    October 24, 2016 at 12:21 PM

    State fairs always scream food to me. Like you go there and sweat from walking around all day – but still manage to gain weight from the deep fried foods and buckets of cookies. #worthit

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 7:10 PM

      So true. State Fair = Food. 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    ozzy
    October 24, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    I just know Texas from movies (shamed) and they are not good ones lol. Good to see there are such an entertainment & attractions. I felt like I’m reading a fairytale, very well written.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 7:09 PM

      Thank you so much! I’m curious as to what movies you watched – I’m assuming Texas Chainsaw Massacre 😉 The cityscapes in Texas are very unlike the Western classics and John Wayne Films. They look almost like normal business districts with tall buildings and skyscrapers (though I will admit, I have seen the odd person with a cowboy hat). 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Joanna
    October 24, 2016 at 8:46 PM

    I have never been to America or experienced a state fair before but I have it admit, it looks so damn cool! I can’t believe that Taylor Swift has her own museum hall dedicated entirely to her. Or that there’s a 55 foot tall doll at the entrance. You captured me when you said wine garden and food, food, food 🙂

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 7:05 PM

      Food, food, food are definitely the embodiment of the State Fair. I was quite surprised by the Taylor Swift exhibit myself, but it was mildly interesting. Hope you get a chance to visit America someday!! 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Kriswanders
    October 24, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    Never experienced a state fair event but reading your post made me imagine myself out there. Ending the day with a concert sounds fun! I only get to see statefairs in movies thank you for sharing an authentic experience. 🙂

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 6:59 PM

      Thank you for such a sweet comment! Ending the day with a good ol’ country concert is indeed the way to go at the State Fair of Texas! 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Abhinav Singh
    October 25, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    What a cool festival. My country India has a century old tradition of making films and I wonder why we are not planning anything like this? You don’t have to be embarrassed about admitting your fondness for those films. The 55 foot tall statue, I am sure is a head turner! Looks like a place you can enjoy with family and friends.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Anshula
      November 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM

      Thanks for stopping by my blog! The 55 foot tall statue is definitely a head turner (especially when he talks)! And it is such fun a family-friendly location indeed! 🙂 xx – Anshula

      Reply

Leave a Reply