I’m an official Texan now! Why? Because after three and a half years of living in Texas, I FINALLY went to the State Fair of Texas back in October! Y’all, it was everything I imagined! The food, the rides, the events, the FUN! It was a perfect fair day!
I was able to pair my day at the fair with the home opener for the Dallas Stars. Yes, that means I had fun at the fair and then fun at a hockey game all in one day – the perfect day!
If you’re like me and don’t like huge crowds, go to the fair on a weekday. Of course it’s busy on weekends, but they also host football games at the Cotton Bowl on Saturdays, so it’s extra crowded. During most weekdays, they have some type of promotion going on where you can get your overall ticket to the fair for half price. Make sure you’re following them on social media before your trip to know about which days have discounts.
First tip of the fair: be prepared to pay for EVERYTHING! I knew I would have to spend money, but definitely not as much money as I ended up spending. That’s not a bad thing, just more of a FYI. I would also recommend parking at the fair, not at one of the third party lots nearby. It’s $20 to park in the fair lot (just like the other lots), but the staff is so organized and it makes parking is super easy. Once you pay to get inside, you then have to pay for coupons. Everything requires coupons – food, drinks, and rides. I purchased a handful of coupons at the beginning, knowing that I wanted to do a bunch of stuff, but I ended up having to buy another handful midway through the day.
My friend, Becca, and I got lucky and went in to the entrance right where Big Tex was. So, of course, a photoshoot happened with Big Tex and our brand new Big Tex cups! That was the one souvenir that I wanted!
This place is huge. It took us a while to understand the layout, but the maps are very helpful! Use big landmarks to find your way around – the Cotton Bowl, the big music stage, Big Tex, the Midway, and the Texas Star ferris wheel. Those helped us get from place to place.
Of course we’ve got to talk about the food! We were lucky to visit on Thrifty Thursday, so a lot of the food and drink were half off! I didn’t eat as much as I thought I would, but I did stick with the classics – a Fletcher’s corn dog and a large stick of cotton candy. Not going to lie – the corn dog wasn’t my favorite. Didn’t come anywhere close to a Disneyland corn dog! Becca tried one of the Big Tex Choice Awards winners, the Southern Fried Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Ball. Huge tip! Almost all of the food and drinks are outside, except for the food court where most of the Big Tex Choice Award winners are. The food court is located in an *air conditioned* building behind Big Tex. If I had more time at the fair, I would spend a good bit of that time trying different types of food and sharing them with friends. They do provide pretty large portions of food at the booths, so share a plate with your friends!
I have a big love for carnival rides! You know, the rides that are probably not safe, but you have the best childhood memories of riding those rides all of the time! Becca and I were able to ride a few of the carnival rides, including an actually kind of scary, mini roller coaster that made me sick to my stomach. But it was still so much fun! I wish we had been able to ride the ferris wheel, but we’ll be able to ride it at the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day! Make sure you make time for the rides – it’s one of the best parts of a fair!
There’s a lot more to the fair than just food, drinks, and rides. Becca and I honestly spent a good bit of time sitting in rocking chairs, looking at the pond, and talking about anything and everything. We also enjoyed looking at farm animals – but I wish there was a petting zoo! – looking at the different competition items, and watching a pig race! We barely scratched the surface of all the things there were to do at the fair! My best tip: make a plan before you go! The state fair’s website is incredibly organized and such a helpful tool in planning! Of course, your plan can be to walk around and enjoy whatever you stumble upon. But you can also plan out the things that are most important, whether that’s a particular activity, food to try, or show to watch.
I would HIGHLY recommend any Texan or someone visiting Texas in October to visit the State Fair of Texas! I hope some of these tips help you in your planning. The fair already has their dates set for 2020, so start planning your trips now! I’m looking forward to making Fair + Hockey Day a yearly tradition!
Y’all have a good one!