Every year since 1886, the historic Texas State Fair has taken place in Dallas at Fair Park . People travel from all over to come visit Big Tex and eat fried foods to their hearts' content. If it's your first time to tackle the state fair, read on for a beginner's guide to this Texas tradition.
1. Plan everything out THE DAY BEFORE.
The Texas State Fair is huge, and the choices in food, events, exhibits, rides, etc. are endless. It's very easy to get overwhelmed walking in for the first time, so prior research is critical. Each year, the fair releases a list of food "winners" and an online version of the map is available. Make sure you map all the places you want to go to so you don't waste any time wandering around when you could be eating instead.
2. Don't wait in long lines (or at least try to avoid doing so).
Whether it's for buying a ticket or getting on a ride, standing in lines at the fair is inevitable- but there are some ways to minimize your time spent waiting. Lines are long during the day and grow longer as the day progresses towards the afternoon and the evening, so do your best to get there early.
Also, in order to buy food or get on rides, coupons are the primary form of exchange at the fair. Rather than buying coupons at the ticket booth near the entrance, walk further into the fair where additional booths are set up. You will be more likely to be able to buy your coupons while minimizing your time in line.
3. Sampling is key.
Eating at the state fair is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to make sure that you are pacing and not filling yourself on fried food too quickly (including this top prize winning fried Jell-O). The state fair is a great opportunity to bring a ton of friends and have everyone take a bite of the latest fried culinary masterpiece. This way, everyone can sample the food while conserving stomach space. If you're stumped for food ideas to try, take a look at this article.
4. Make sure to stay hydrated and bring your walking shoes.
This one seems a little obvious, but I cannot stress how important drinking water and staying comfortable throughout the day is. Texas weather can range quite a bit, with highs between 70-95 degrees F. I walked over 15,000 steps at the fair, and coupled with wearing cute shoes to go with my game day outfit, my feet were aching by the end of the day. Bring a bottle of water (it is on the approved list of what you can bring to the fair) and tackle on the day with a comfy pair of shoes.
5. Check out all the exhibits, halls, performances, etc.
There are a million things to do at the fair and the website includes daily schedules and guided itineraries. Though the rides and games are always a fun time and are the quintessential state fair things to do, the fair is also synonymous with college football games (hook' em), the auto show, live music, shopping, museums/exhibits, and more.
6. Go visit the animals.
Livestock and agriculture are a big deal in Texas, so you have to visit them to get the full Texas experience. Check out some of the educational shows going on throughout the day and learn some new tips for your garden from Big Tex Urban Farms. Go check out the pig races or better yet, watch some ostriches race.
7. Ride the Texas Star.
Though I will sheepishly admit that I did not take the opportunity to ride the Texas Star this year, everyone I spoke to recommended this attraction. The ferris wheel is the tallest one in North America, standing at an astonishing height of 212 feet. It's impossible not to walk by and feel a sense of Texan pride, so be sure to check out the fair's most popular attraction, especially at night.
Good luck and have fun!
These are some of the tested and true tips I picked up after visiting the Texas State Fair for the first time this year. Be prepared for intense walking, Texas heat, fried foods galore, and a lot of happy memories in between. The last day of the fair is October 23, so get there before it's gone.