It has been two years since guests had the chance to enjoy our beloved State Fair of Texas (SFOT), and on Sept. 24, it's returning in all its glory! Back with the theme "Howdy, Folks!" and a mask-less Big Tex, the iconic event is offering its traditional fixtures as well as some new additions. Here are just a few of the happenings going on during the nation's largest state fair.
The Good Eats
We're putting this one first for obvious reasons. Crowd favorites such as Fletcher's Corny Dogs, funnel cakes and cotton candy will be back, of course, but it's the more off-the-wall culinary creations that get certain fairgoers really excited. SFOT hasn't released its list of new foods for 2021 quite yet, but we expect nothing but greatness as always. It's hard to top items like the PB&J Bacon Pickle Dog or the Stuffed Turkey Leg, both from 2019, but there's no doubt the innovation will continue. Catch the 2021 Big Tex Choice Awards to see what's in the works. One of this year's "savory" finalists - Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls - sounds incredibly rich and flavorful, and on the "sweet" side, The Armadillo Cookie Butter Ice Cream Sandwich is surely a tasty treat. What could be more Texan than that?
Keep in mind SFOT has Thrifty Thursdays, when you can take advantage of discounted classic food items. And pop into the Cutco Celebrity Chef Kitchen for cooking tips and tricks before relaxing in the State Fair Wine Garden, which features 11 different Texas wineries.
The Live Performances
It has probably been a while since you attended a live music show, and the Fair brings in all kinds of talented acts representing many styles that you can enjoy for free with the price of admission! On the Chevrolet Main Stage, Clay Walker, Kevin Fowler, Jack Ingram, Sugar Ray and Charley Crockett are among the scheduled performers. Plus, you'll find some hidden gems among the regional acts on the Chevy Stage, too. Jam out to the songs ahead of time on the Fair's YouTube or Spotify. Find the complete music schedule here.
Over in the Fair Park Coliseum is the State Fair Rodeo, a new attraction taking place each evening on weekends only. If you like watching cowboys ride bulls and show off their roping skills, don't miss the rodeo! Opening weekend will feature the Cowboys of Color Rodeo highlighting diverse cowboys and cowgirls in the sport as well as a Mexican Rodeo Fiesta. A complete rodeo schedule is here. On a related note, the Oncor Petting Zoo is a can't-miss event, especially for toddlers who love animals like zebras, goats and pigs. Find it in the Pan Am Arena this year.
Make your way to what many consider the centerpiece of the Fair - the exciting Midway - for hours of fun! Not only are there over 70 rides to choose from, but there are plenty of options for littles in the Kidway area. New this year is the Moonraker ride, or you could cool down on the Sparkletts Log Flume. For some long-time fair-goers, a trip to SFOT without a ride on the Texas Star Ferris Wheel is incomplete. You might stop to win a special prize for a loved one at one of the Midway games before heading to one of the Fair's daily shows. Remember you will need tickets to be admitted onto rides or to play games.
The Auto Show
Whether you're looking for a new ride or not, it's always fun to hop behind the wheel of a Texas Auto Show vehicle. Prepare to be amazed at the sheer number of cars and trucks SFOT gets into this show, and don't forget to snap a picture of the one you've got your eye on.
Select college teams have been facing off at the Cotton Bowl Stadium for decades, and this year is no different. During the Fair's first weekend, Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M will play; then the Red River Showdown between Texas and the University of Oklahoma brings tens of thousands of avid fans to the Fair on Oct. 9. Between the game and SFOT activities, you'll have a full day.
As an added bonus, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccination near Big Tex. Get vaccinated onsite, and you'll get $20 in fair coupons. Please also see SFOT's COVID and masking guidelines. For ticketing and all admission discount information, click here.