Whee! I’m ready for rides at the fair! And to eat fried food, say “howdy” to Big Tex, and everything from A to Z. Since today is #ThrowbackThursday, I thought I’d share a picture of me enjoying a ride at the state fair when I was a kid (circa 1967).
When writing this guide, I enjoyed reminiscing about all the good times my family had at the fair all those years ago. I’ve had great times in recent years too, so I’m glad for the chance to share all of my experiences with you in this five-part A to Z series.
Come back tomorrow for S-Z, the final part of the series and Opening Day of the State Fair of Texas.
Here are the first three posts from our five-part series:
Even if you don’t know the street name, you’ll recognize the view on Nimitz Circle if you’ve been to the fair before. If you enter through the front gate and walk along beside the Centennial Building side, Nimitz Circle is the street that opens up when you get to the end of the esplanade. As you stroll down Nimitz Circle, you’ll find food booths with that familiar pattern on their awnings, and you’ll get your first chance to stop for a Fletcher’s Corny Dog.
Nimitz Circle is also where you’ll find the GO TEXAN Pavilion, the Embarcadero, and the Livestock Birthing Barn (where the Children’s Health Barnyard petting zoo used to be.) Across the street you’ll find the Creative Arts Building and the Dr Pepper Stage. The nightly parade travels down Nimitz Circle every evening too.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for two season passes to the 2018 Texas State Fair on Part 2 here.
Old Mill Inn
Longtime fairgoers may remember the days when the Old Mill Inn was a regularly operating restaurant – during the fair and year-round. What you might not know is that it was originally built as a working flour mill for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. These days it opens for dinner during certain Fair Park Music Hall performances as well as hosting private events. You can also attend Texas Murder Mystery performances there.
Insider’s Tip: The nostalgic building isn’t shown as a food venue on this year’s State Fair of Texas map, but it’s a great scenic spot to swing by while you’re at the fair. The area around the Old Mill Inn is a popular parade watching spot too.
The nightly parade is the highlight of the day for many fairgoers. You’ll see bands, costumed characters, historic parade wagons, stilt walkers, and Texas-themed floats process around the perimeter of buildings surrounding the Cotton Bowl.
The Opening Day parade is fun too, but it doesn’t actually happen on the fairgrounds. At noon on opening day, September 28th, the parade will process down Main Street from Houston to Good-Latimer.
One well-known fact about the fair that folks sometimes forget is that it’s got lots of perfect spots for picnics. While you’ll surely want to enjoy some State Fair of Texas food, you can also bring your own food and drinks. Coolers and ice chests are welcome too. If a day of fair food sounds like just too much, bring your own healthy or decadent drinks and treats and enjoy one of the most scenic picnics of your life.
Tech Tip: While we didn’t find a smartphone app for the Texas State Fair, we did luck into a rather slick digital magazine that the fair puts out. It has some coupons, maps and other stuff you may find helpful here.
Quilts are just one of over 1,100 competition categories for the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts awards. Spend some time in the Creative Arts building to see the winning quilts, photography, dolls, hobby collections, and art of all kinds.
Q is also for quiet time. The state fair has planned Sensory-Friendly Mornings from 10AM to 1PM on Wednesdays. If you or someone you know has been avoiding the state fair due to sensory overload, this might be a great way to enjoy a day at the fair.
Red River Showdown
This is the name of the long-held rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma Universities. It’s been held in the Cotton Bowl. For decades. The weekend of the Texas-OU game as it’s often called is often a rowdy time at Fair Park and in nearby Dallas neighborhoods. If you’re ready to party and cheer your team on, you won’t want to miss the game on Saturday, October 6th. If this kind of fun isn’t your thing, plan to come on a different weekend (or better yet, on a weekday.)
Ranch Arena and Rodeo
You’ll find a couple of entertaining shows at the Ranch Arena near the livestock area on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Pee Wee Stampede and Rodeo held several times daily is a mock rodeo kids can participate in. Horse lovers of all ages will enjoy the Majesty of the Horse Show featuring beautiful horses and accomplished rider and horseman Jerry Diaz.
So tomorrow is the big day, and we hope you’re ready for a great time at the State Fair of Texas. Do you have memories from the fair, or will this year be your first time? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.