When Nate and I first moved to Dallas, the most recommended thing to put on our “must do” list was the State Fair of Texas. It was all Texans could talk about in the couple of months and weeks leading up to the big opening on September 28th, and for good reason! I have never been to a state fair quite as big as this one, nor one with better food–believe it or not.
Since a young age, I had always loved going to our county fair and the Florida State Fair (who didn’t?). I’ll admit, though, most of my excitement focused in on the delicious “fair food” that only comes around during that time of the year. So, when I’d been hearing so much about the State Fair of Texas and their amazing variety of good food, I couldn’t help but get just as excited as everyone else! Plus, I knew it’d be the perfect place to get to know a little more about our new home state.
Opening day of the state fair is so popular among Texans for two (main) reasons: 1) the majorly rival teams UT-Austin and OU play right there at Fair Park for the Cotton Bowl 2) it’s the fair, duh.
To illustrate just how big this day is, a friend of mine and her husband actually cut their honeymoon short in Antigua to make it back in time to catch this game at Fair Park. That is dedication! Plus, their team (UT) won, so it made it all that much more worth it in the end.
The thing I was warned most about was avoiding opening day to skip all the craziness of the game. We’re SO glad that we waited until the second week to go, because the crowds weren’t as big and we didn’t have to wait forever in so many lines.
We went on a Thursday and then again on Saturday. Obviously Saturday was a bit more crowded, since it was the weekend, but we still found those to have been great days to go! Plus, getting there early helped big time.
Fair Day with my CheapCaribbean team
My first time visiting the fair was with my co-workers on a Thursday, right after work. And at the time, I had only been working at CheapCaribbean for a couple of weeks. And if you know me, I’m definitely more of an introvert. So, naturally, I was a little out of my element hanging out with a group of people I only knew professionally, while also visiting somewhere totally unfamiliar to me.
Thankfully, soon after getting to the fair, I felt relieved at how relaxed everything was. We all bonded over mutual obsessions with fair food and beer (wine). Although this trip mostly consisted of taste testing just about every food stand, it definitely made for a great first impression of the State Fair of Texas!
Saturdate at the Fair
My second trip to the fair, just a couple days later, was Nate’s first time there. It was a lot more laid back than the first day, but just as fun! We ended up doing a double-date with a girlfriend of mine and her husband. Since it was just the four of us, and we had a whole afternoon rather than just an evening, we were able to cover a lot more ground!
Of course we still made our food cart rounds. But we were also able to check out the huge vendors’ market, a couple art exhibits, Big Tex and even some of the cattle and livestock barns (we’re in Texas, after-all!). Speaking of Big Tex…
Meet the official icon and greeter of the State Fair of Texas–Big Tex. Supposedly, he’s known internationally as the world’s tallest cowboy, standing at 55-ft tall. He’s had this title for the last 65 years and counting! We were told that we couldn’t leave the fair without seeing him in person and taking a photo! A Texan tradition has been to grab one of the famous (and freakin’ delicious) Fletcher’s Corny Dogs and enjoy it right next to Big Tex. So, as first time Texans at the state fair, we did just that!
And to dive a little further into just how iconic this cowboy is, every year, the State Fair of Texas hosts the Bix Tex Boot Design Contest where local Texans get to submit their own designs of the famous, size 70 boots. After hundreds of designs are considered, the winner’s boot design gets to be worn by Big Tex, himself during the fair.
State pride doesn’t stop at his boot design, though. In fact, his whole outfit is Texan-made. Recognize the logo on his shirt in the top right corner? That’s right. His size 200 x 325 shirt and 434 x 240 jeans are sourced locally from Fort Worth’s own Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co., a.k.a Dickies–stitched and sewed in the original Dickies plant that opened back in 1922. Could he BE anymore Texan (Chandler Bing voice)? Probably not. But, I’ve also never seen anything else like it.
Since Big Tex and the State Fair of Texas are, in fact, a big deal around here, there’s even a Big Tex unveiling that’s shown live on Facebook and local news stations across the state when he’s all built for the upcoming fair. I may or may not have been one of the tens of thousands who watched live on Facebook this year to see what all the hype was about… even if I was just peeking off my co-worker’s computer just next to me. 😉
Now, on to the most important of them all–fair food!
Texas Fair Food
From deep friend shepherd’s pie to sweet crispy rice balls to the cotton candy taco, the State Fair of Texas literally has it all! My favorites were the arroz con leche, cinnamon roll, fun-l cake ice cream and obviously the corny dog!
Overall thoughts on the State Fair of Texas
Overall, I loved the State Fair of Texas, and I can definitely see what all the hype is about! We got to see tons of local vendors, we rode the tallest ferris wheel in North America and got to see Big Tex in action. So, I’d say that my first trip to the fair was a success!
I’m so excited that I get such an incredible state fair to look forward to every year! Nate and I had such a great time with new friends, and now we get to make new memories here every year. So, if you ever find yourself in Dallas during late September to mid October, you have to add the State Fair of Texas on your list of must-dos, for sure!