First-Timer's Guide to the State Fair of Texas

The ultimate guide for Fair newbies.

Posted on Sep 17, 2018

The State Fair of Texas is the largest state fair in the nation, so it's understandable that it might be overwhelming for a first-time attendee. No worries – we've got your back with the ultimate guide for newcomers to help give you an idea of what to expect during your first visit to the fair.

Pre-Fair Prep

Before you get too eager and start marking your way to the fairgrounds in Fair Park, make some preparations for a fun-filled fair day. First, consider who your group consists of (kids, teens, adults) and plan things to do that will make everyone happy. Second, check out the many ways you can save on fair admission. Finally, plan on wearing comfy walking shoes – your feet will thank you  later.


No matter who is in your group, the fair is full of activities and shows for people of all ages. Family-friendly favorites include the Kids' Boardwalk and Home on the Range – a petting zoo combined with a fun miniature farm for kids to practice their agricultural skills. If you plan on staying into the evening, don't miss the Starlight Parade or the Mattress Firm Illumination Sensation for a colorful show of lights, music and fireworks. For a full list of attractions, see here.

Rides and Games

If you're a thrill seeker, the State Fair Midway has more than 70 rides for fairgoers to enjoy, including the iconic Texas Star Ferris Wheel and 1914 Dentzel Carousel. You'll need to purchase ride coupons before getting in line, which you can stock-up on at booths around the fairgrounds or in advance online.

Games in the Midway can be played by presenting a Big Tex Game Card purchased at booths and kiosks nearby.

Livestock and Agriculture

Texas has a rich history when it comes to livestock and agriculture, so no trip to the State Fair of Texas is complete without a stop at the barns for a little agricultural education. Livestock exhibitors from across the state showcase various types of barn animals in competition. Make sure to check out the daily schedule for competition times. You can also experience the brand-new Livestock Birthing Barn and learn about the incubation process for different breeds.

To learn more about agriculture, head over to the Innovations in Agriculture exhibit, a greenhouse featuring indoor-grown produce as well as DIY growing systems for your own home.

Food and Drink

Every great fair has great food, and everything is bigger and better in Texas. Be sure to come hungry and chow down on the classics like Fletcher's Corny Dogs and turkey legs or one of the many tasty deep-fried inventions. Just like rides, you'll need to buy coupons to be able to order food. Come on a Thursday to save with special prices on certain fair foods.

Looking to get a little buzzed? Make your way over to the Magnolia Beer Garden for some craft brews, or the State Fair Wine Garden to sample wines from different wineries throughout the Lone Star State.


Enjoy the sounds of national, regional and local bands and musicians from all genres across multiple stages in the park. Every day at the fair you'll have the chance to catch one of many live performances, with big acts hitting the Chevrolet Main Stage nightly and smaller acts playing more intimate stages like the Bud Light Stage and Dr Pepper Stage. See the daily schedule for all the artists performing this year.

Auto Show

If you love cars, you'll love the Texas Auto Show. With boasting rights as the largest new car auto show in the Southwest, the world's leading car manufactures show off around 400 of the latest models for car enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

College Football

Whether you're an alumnus of one of these schools or just a football fanatic, there are three college games taking place inside the historic Cotton Bowl you won't want to miss. The fair kicks off with the State Fair Classic, with Prairie View A&M University vs. Grambling State University. Next, the iconic AT&T Red River Showdown, with University of Texas vs. University of Oklahoma. Lastly, the State Fair Showdown, with Southern University vs. Texas Southern University. See here for more details.

Posted in:

Children & Family Fall Season Food Football Music & Concerts State Fair of Texas