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12 Hidden Gems at the State Fair of Texas

Whether you're new to the fair or wanting to enhance your fair outing, the State Fair of Texas has plenty of classic experiences and even more thrilling surprises.

Devon Yarbrough
Posted on Sep 25, 2019

The State Fair of Texas is one of the longest running fairs in the nation with 24 consecutive days – and for good reason. There is so much to see and do, including all the unique things that make the State Fair of Texas that much more! As a Dallas native and self-proclaimed State Fair of Texas pro – I've been to the fair every year since 1998 – here are some of the State Fair of Texas experiences I don't think you should miss.

1. See the Butter Sculpture

Creative Arts Building

Head to the Creative Arts Building and view a colossal and imaginative sculpture made from butter. The sculpture is made by a local Texas artist each year and always depicts the State Fair of Texas' theme. This year's theme is, Celebrating Texas Creativity, which will bring a whole new inspired display to view.

2. Stop by the Glue A Shoe Display

Creative Arts Building

The fair is filled with innovative contest and art displays and this one is no exception. The Glue A Shoe contest showcases various cool and clever creations all made from shoes – from high heels to cowboy boots, and everything in between!

3. View African American Art

African American Museum

During your time at the fair, stop by the African American Museum for to see a wide range of African American art, including the special exhibit, the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection. The can't-miss collection displays more than 150 shared treasures, including paintings, sculptures, photos, letters, rare books and more and are a celebration of the achievements and contributions of African Americans from the 1500s to today. The museum is open daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and tickets are $10 for general admission or free with a State Fair of Texas ticket.

African American Museum.
African American Museum.

4, Learn about Agriculture

Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway

Visit the Innovations of Agriculture exhibit and see the State Fair's Big Texas Urban Farms, which produces more than 20,000 greens annually for local Dallas communities and organizations. The exhibit is a great opportunity to learn about Big Texas Urban Farms and the unique and pioneering practices to grow healthy produce. And for a bonus, catch Farmer Mike there as he carves larger-than-life pumpkins every Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

5. Compete in the Competition Kitchen

Creative Arts Building

Got a knack for cooking or just enjoy competition? Then enter your dish for the Competition Kitchen. For 24 days there will be various contests to participate in (and win!) this year. The competitions range from homemade ice cream and baked bread to decorated pumpkins and innovative "Fair-like concoctions." Many of the contests are day-of entry only, so come with your prepared dish and register once you arrive. Find the full calendar of events and entry guidelines here.

Photo Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas.
Photo Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas.

6. Pay tribute at the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Located on First Avenue near the front gate

Take a minute to reflect and pay tribute at the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The historic site features a lush garden as well as five granite tablets inscribed with the names of fallen Texan Vietnam soldiers, including nine Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. Visitors can also place American flags next to names in honor of all Vietnam War veterans.

7. Engage in Livestock Education

Livestock Birthing Barn

Experience the miracle of life at the Livestock Birthing Barn. This longstanding activity includes education on the birthing process of various livestock animals, including cows, horses and more! The barn is open daily from 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.

8. See Pigs Race

Pan Am Arena

See piglets, dressed in eye-catching racing gear, run the course. This worthwhile event happens four times a day at the Pan Am Arena and is a must-see.

9 Pet animals at the Home on the Range Barnyard

Fair Park Coliseum

Get hands-on farming experience at the Home on the Range Barnyard. This family-friendly activity is perfect for the kiddos and includes a variety of farm animals to see and pet at the Children's Barnyard petting zoo. Also, the little ones can enjoy Little Hands on the Farm, which allows them to pick their own fruits and veggies, as well as learn about farming. The barnyard is open Sunday – Thursday 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

10. Pose for the Big Tex Picture of the Day

Big Tex

Strike your favorite pose or snap a selfie with the iconic 55-foot tall cowboy, Big Tex. Each day the State Fair of Texas team chooses a Big Tex Picture of the Day to be showcased on all their social channels. So, get as creative as you want – even if you don't get picked, at least you have a cool photo!

Photo Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas.
Photo Courtesy of the State Fair of Texas.

11. Stroll through the Texas Discovery Gardens

Located near Gate 6 across from the Bandshell

Take a break from the fair (and Corny Dogs!) to stroll the Texas Discovery Gardens. The 7.5-acre garden features beautiful plants and flowers as well as educational exhibits. Don't miss the Snakes of Texas exhibit or the always popular daily noon Butterfly Release at the Rosine Smith Sammons Butterfly House and Insectarium.

12. Learn Women's history

Continental D.A.R. House

Home to the Jane Douglas Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, this historic building houses various exhibits, artifacts, brochures, patriotic videos and more about women's history, and genealogy – and is must-see for any fair outing.