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.
Before you start making 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. Third, decide on parking arrangements before heading to the fair. We recommend taking the DART as an easy transportation option (there are several lines to hop on and you can save $2 on admission by using the GoPass app!) 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 World of Magic show 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 nightly 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 Livestock Birthing Barn and learn about the incubation process for different breeds.
Food and Drink
Every great fair has great food, and everything is bigger and better in Texas. 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 purchase food. Come on a Thursday to save with special prices on certain fair foods.
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 full line up of all the artists performing this year.
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.
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 Stadium 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 on Sept. 28. Next, the iconic AT&T Red River Showdown, with University of Texas vs. University of Oklahoma, takes place on Oct. 12. Lastly, the State Fair Showdown, with Southern University vs. Texas Southern University, takes the field on Oct. 19. See here for more details.
Be sure to check our official State Fair Hub for all the tips and tricks to make your trip to the fair a success!