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 favourites. The fair in the movie is portrayed as lighthearted and family friendly and unique, so I obviously went in with those preconceived notions.

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

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

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.

Top Things to Do At the State Fair of Texas Feet of Big Tex

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 element of Texas’ history. Texas has a rich and colourful 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

You’re probably starting to feel a little hungry, so let’s grab a bite to eat. I know the line seems to be extending blocks, but we have to try Fletcher’s corny dogs, a cult classic sold at Fair Park for over 70 years. Carl and Neil Fletcher arguably invented the “corn” dog, but regardless this fried-delight is delicious. The batter pulls the juice from the sausage, making Fletcher’s world-renowned specialty more flavour-packed than a run-of-the-mill corn dog.

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. 

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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. 

Disclaimer: 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! 

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  • Jaclyn Bree

    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 🙂

    • 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

  • Wanderers Hub

    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.

    • 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

  • 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.

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

  • 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!

    • 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

  • Brittany Ferrell

    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!

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

  • Karla

    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.

    • 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

      • Karla

        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 🙂

  • Nicki McLaren

    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

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

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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 🙂

    • 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

  • Kriswanders

    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. 🙂

    • 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

  • Abhinav Singh

    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.

    • 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