I must admit that I love fairs and the bigger the better. I grew up working at our county fair when I was a kid. I also entered my projects into the fair. I have been a big fan for most of my life. As such, I have been to several state fairs and many county fairs. I think it’s the variety of events and displays that are only at the fair that I love.
I checked out the fairground sight to see just how big this event was going to be. The first thing that stands out is that there is a stadium in the middle of the grounds – a STADIUM. This would be the infamous Cotton Bowl. Of course the Texas State Fair had to be big – it’s Texas.
For some strange reason I decided to go on the day of the big Red River Showdown – Saturday October 10, 2015. This is a big rivalry college football game between the University of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma University. Since neither college is in this area, ALL of the fans are from out-of-town. This made for a large crowd that day. More on that later.
A note for those who want to be more efficient is that the light rail system (DART) stops right in front of the main entrance. I thought about this but opted to go the car route.
There was a bit of a walk to get to the entrance gate. Again, I just followed the line of people to the gate. It turned out to be a side gate not too far from the main entrance. The admission was $18 for an adult. Children and seniors (60 and over) were $14. It was a good thing that I don’t have much of a sense of smell as this was also where all the livestock was.
Once inside I was overwhelmed by the size of everything. Everything was big. There was a large stage for entertainment throughout the day, wine and beer gardens, and shopping galore. There were large commercial vendors selling household items for everything inside and outside your home. They also had a lot of artistic vendors selling their wares. I had a nice conversation with a fellow who created horned frog replicas. He had every type of horned frog lizard you could imagine and knew where each one lived in the USA. I told you they had everything here.
Naturally, since I entered near the livestock, I was greeted by some elite animals. A longhorn and a Grand Champion steer.
There was a large part of the fairgrounds devoted to auto and truck displays from nearly every major manufacturer. Cars and trucks were everywhere throughout the grounds. There was even a part set up for test driving Chevrolet car and trucks. I had always wanted to drive a Corvette and here was my chance. They did have a rule that you must drive one of the “other” vehicles before test driving one of the sports cars (Corvette or Camaro). So I drove on of the 4x4 trucks then got to drive the Corvette. And then I got a free T-shirt. What a deal! Even though we did not get much above 15mph it was still pretty fun and I knocked off one of my bucket list items.
There are so many things to see at the fair that I cannot list them all. Suffice to say that there is something for everyone here.
The grounds themselves have several permanent memorial displays and buildings dedicated to historical knowledge. The above picture is of the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial. More on this in another post.
Then there was the entertainment. In addition to the main stage performers there was a dog show and a unique puppet show. These may seem like events for the kids but they were actually fun for everyone.
There were a couple of buildings worth of arts and crafts displays from all over Texas. They literally had dozens of display cases full of every item imaginable. And of course it would not be complete without the 3000 pound butter sculpture display. Yup, butter.
What would a fair be without the midway full of rides and games? This fair was no exception and there were plenty of them.
One note about this fair in general was the method of currency. The fair ran off of coupons. This applied to rides and food. The lines were pretty long at some of the coupon booths especially at the fair entrances. A helpful hint was to find some booths located within some of the buildings where the lines were not so long. The other option was to use the automated machines that worked like bank ATM machines only they dispense tickets rather than cash. The real trick was to try to decide how many tickets to buy. I did not want to be left with too many tickets in hand at the end of my visit. It turns out that I had one ticket left. I was so proud of myself.
One of the first “rides” that I told myself that I was going on was the Top o’ Texas Tower. This is a relatively new tower ride that takes you up approximately 500 feet in the air for a great view of the Fair Park grounds. I really wanted to see the view. However, if you are afraid of heights (like I am) I may not recommend this one for you. For the best view there is not much in front of you during the ride – just glass and a thin cable handhold. I pretty much braved the four and a half-minute ride by closing my eyes and letting my camera do the viewing.
As you can see by the picture above I chose to go on the ride just as the big football game had ended. This made it a bit difficult to get around once I got back on solid ground. I think I waited a little too long before I decided to eat but off I went to find food.
Food was abundant and there was a great variety of it. I could not begin to describe how much variety there is here. I recommend checking out the website for more information. Let’s just state that the most creative food item they list is a Smoky Bacon Margarita. I am not much of a food person so I settled for a cheeseburger and fries which fit my ticket budget and my taste buds.
By now my feet were hurting from the walking involved to cover this whole event. It was also very crowded from the football fans who were out to enjoy the rest of their day – win or lose. By the way, Texas beat the top ranked team of Oklahoma. It was a big deal to the many Texas fans in attendance.
One last note about this fair – this was by far the nicest fair that I have ever been to. Everyone from commercial vendors to food vendors to the rowdy football fans were extremely polite and nice. I saw no arguments over the game. My experience was that there would almost always be a conflict at an event of this kind. If there was, I did not see it or left before it happened. In either case I came away with a very good feeling after visiting this fair. I cannot say that about many other fairs that I have been to.
I couldn’t leave without visiting the livestock stables. It’s not my cup of tea but to many people (especially young people) this is their world. I respect what they do a lot.
Here is the state fair website for more info: