If you're new here, you are probably wondering what the big deal is - after all, you've seen one fair, you've seen them all, right? Wrong – the State Fair of Texas, one of the largest in the U.S., is like nothing else. After a year off, the State Fair is back and if you've never made it out to Fair Park for the occasion, here's what to expect.
It is truly big
The State Fair of Texas covers a lot of ground, taking over the 277 acres of Fair Park for the entirety of the fair, including several buildings on fairgrounds. There's also Big Tex, the 55-foot tall cowboy that greets you at the fair gates (he actually talks!), also known as the tallest cowboy in Texas.
Before you even get to the Fair Park gates, you can see the iconic 212-foot Texas Star Ferris wheel, the largest in Texas. On a clear day you can see all the way to AT&T Stadium, 21 miles away!
Get to Fair Park
Located in South Dallas, Fair Park is an easy drive from Downtown Dallas. Parking is $20 in official State Fair parking lots, and there are also various lots surrounding Fair Park (though prices vary and may be cash only).
For DART riders, the Green Line takes you to two stations – Fair Park Station and MLK Jr. Station – that provide easy access to the fair gates. Learn more about getting to Fair Park here.
You have 24 days to see it all
Beginning Sept. 24, fairgoers have 24 consecutive days to explore everything the fair has to offer. The fair is open seven days a week through Oct. 17, with gates opening daily at 10 am. The fair closes at 9 pm Sunday-Thursday and closes at 10 pm on Friday and Saturday.
The State Fair of Texas official schedule makes planning easy, outlining each day's activities. Start by figuring which music shows you want to attend – this year's headline acts include Black Pumas, Dru Hill and Clay Walkers, and there's many more to check out.
If football is on your list, plan your visit around the two major games happening during the fair: Texas takes on OU for the AT&T Red River Showdown on Oct. 9, while the State Fair Classic takes place on Sept. 25 between Prairie View A&M and Grambling State.
It's all about the food
Each year, State Fair concessionaires bring their A-game with the latest fried concoctions as part of the Big Tex Choice Awards. Previous winners include 2016's fried jello and 2015's smoky bacon margarita, as well as standouts like fried beer and fried bubblegum. This year's newest creations include deep-fried seafood gumbo balls and The Armadillo, a cookie butter ice cream sandwich.
You also come for the classics, and you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't wait in line for a famous Fletcher's Corny Dog. We're also big fans of funnel cakes!
The Texas Auto Show is a major draw
If you're into cars, you're in luck. Known as one of the highlights of the annual event, the Texas Auto Show is hard to miss. It takes up nearly 300,000 sq. feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space, and 90 percent of fairgoers stop by to check out the latest models.
Take advantage of the indoor exhibits to take a break from the Texas heat and peruse all the brands you know and love. Looking for trucks? Head to the outdoor Truck Zone to ooh and aww over yet-to-be-released models.
Fair Park is a destination in itself.
Outside of the fair, Fair Park offers plenty of cultural activities that don't involve fried food. The grounds are a National Historic Landmark which hosts the largest collection of art deco architecture in the U.S. The African American Museum, the only one of its kind in the Southwestern region, is open seven days a week during the run of the fair, while the Children's Aquarium is planning a reopening coinciding with the fair, opening back to the public on Sept. 24. Lastly, the Texas Discovery Gardens offer half-price admission during the 24 days of the fair and are an excellent place to see flora and fauna up close.