Hi there! I’m glad you’re reading this right now. Guess what I’m doing right now? I’m AT THE FAIR. That’s right, today is Opening Day for the 2018 State Fair of Texas. I’m making it a personal #FavoriteThingsFriday and visiting all my favorite things from a lifetime of fairgoing. I hope you’ve found this to truly be your Ultimate Texas State Fair Guide from A to Z.
Need to catch up? You’ll want to read all the fun stuff we’ve covered in our five-part series
The Star and Skyway
I know this one feels a little like cheating, but there’s no question the Texas Star is one of the stars of the State Fair of Texas. Whether you choose the famed Ferris wheel or the Midway Skyway, you’re sure to get a beautiful view of all the fun going on at the fair below.
Another ride everyone enjoys at the fair is the Swan boats on Leonhart Lagoon. These sweet swan-shaped paddle boats bring out the kid in everyone.
I can’t think of a better occasion for hand-held food than a day at the Texas state fair. Smoked turkey legs are the ultimate in fair food, and you can even pat yourself on the back for getting in your protein for the day. If you want to be on your best food behavior or just show someone your love for them, your turkey leg is very shareable. Most of the ones sold at the fair weigh between one and two pounds each!
The Tower Building is the home of the fair’s food court, so you’ll find all your fried favorites and other goodies here. Trio on the Green is another great place to eat at the fair with a relaxing restaurant-like atmosphere.
USMC Drum & Bugle Corps
Performances by the United States Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps are a long-standing State Fair of Texas tradition. They’re always a special part of Opening Day evening celebrations. Through October 8th, you can hear them daily in Marine Corps Square (just past the esplanade) or you can catch them in the nightly Starlight Parade.
The Big Tex Urban Farm is a mobile agriculture system moved into Fair Park in 2016, and all of the food grown at the farm is donated to charity. This year, the urban farm’s Innovating in Agriculture display takes center stage at the Errol McKoy Greenhouse. The exhibit will demonstrate the latest in hydroponic growing systems as well as smaller growing systems you can build for your own home. The greenhouse makes a stop on the Midway a must, even if you aren’t a rides and games fan.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
As you enter the fair from the front gate, it’s easy to hurry past this memorial in your excitement to start your State Fair adventures. Although it’s there year-round, it’s worth taking a moment during the fair to reflect on and honor the Texans killed or missing in action in the Vietnam conflict.
You might be asking, “what exactly is a Woofus?” and I’m here to tell you it’s a mythological creature. There’s only one known likeness of it, and you’ll find it near the Swine Barn on MLK Jr. Boulevard at Fair Park. Its parts include a pig body, duck wings, a horse’s neck and mane, a turkey tail, and a sheep’s head with a pair of Texaslonghorns on top for good measure. From its perch atop the building, the Woofus spouts water from its mouth – so maybe it’s part (spitting) llama too?
W is for wine, and you’ll find some wonderful wine treats at the fair. In addition to the wine coolers and wine popsicles, you’re sure to find on the Midway, you’ll also want to visit the State Fair Wine Garden just outside GO TEXAN Pavilion (on Nimitz Circle.) With its own music stage and plenty of wines to enjoy, you might be tempted to park yourself there for the entire day
This year GO TEXAN has designated a dozen Texas wines as its Blue Ribbon Wine Selection. Selected red, white, and sparkling wines are featured in their own special tasting station. You can purchase these wines (and other nectar of the vines) in two-ounce tasting samples, by the glass, or by the bottle.
Win 2 Season Passes!
Do you have your day mapped out? What are your State Fair of Texas faves? Let us know in the comments below and we will draw for two winners of TWO SEASON PASSES! – Andi Reis
Drawing ends October 2, 2018. Winners will be notified by email provided with the post comment. Winner has 24 hours to respond, claiming the prize, or winner forfeits. This giveaway is cross-posted to our social media, and being the sole commenter on a post does not automatically mean a win by default. If you’ve claimed a prize from us in the last three months, you are ineligible to win. Must be 18 or over to win or claim season passes. Winning passes will be mailed via first-class USPS and FunCityStuff.com and it’s proprietors are not responsible for lost, stolen or misdirected mail. No purchase is required. You will be asked to share this post or an image of your visit to the State Fair of Texas to your own social media, but it is not a condition to win.
Another popular show is called Xpogo Extreme. This mind-boggling stunt features tricks you’ve probably never even dreamed up. Two pogo professionals will take extreme sports to new heights daily at Chevrolet Park Plaza.
Xtreme Sports Zone
If extreme sports are your thing, you’ll want to head over to the Xtreme Sports Zone to see the Team BIG AIR Basketball Slam Dunk Show! These amazing athletes combine acrobatics and basketball for spectacular results.
Youth Livestock Auction
This annual event is a scholarship fundraiser and it’s unlike any auction you’ve ever seen. It’s a fun occasion where thousands of young people compete to get their animals into the auction and sell them to the highest bidder. Less than 300 entries are accepted.
You won’t need to bring your wallet to this auction or ask for a paddle – the winning bidders are corporations, scholarship donors, and even groups like the State Fair (full-time) employees. Last year, the Grand Champion steer sold for $141,000 to Superior Trailersand the Big Tex Champion Club. Students whose animals win receive a pre-designated maximum amount for their prize, and the excess funds go to the Youth Scholarship Program. Scholarship beneficiaries are students who’ve competed in livestock events and students from high schools near Fair Park.
A 501(c) (3) organization, the Youth Livestock Auction also promotes agriculture, education, and community involvement. This year’s event will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, October 5th in the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center.
While at the fair, you might happen by a platform displaying a steer statue called “The Champ.” Starting this year “The Champ” will be painted each year to look like the previous year’s Grand Champion winner. Last year’s winner was named Tex – giving you another Tex to get a selfie with this year.
Zebus, Zedonks & Zebras
I bet you thought Z would stump me, but it’s actually an easy one, and quite possibly my favorite. You see, miniature zebus are regulars on the livestock barn show schedules. This breed of cattle originally from India thrives in hot weather, making them perfectly at home here in Texas. Miniature zebus are the world’s smallest cattle, but we’re in Texas, so small has a little bit different meaning. Miniature zebus range from 29 to 42 inches tall and despite their adorable baby faces, they can weigh up to 600 pounds.
You can get up close and personal with a zebu in the livestock barns. My first face-to-face encounter with one was at the Children’s Health Barnyard petting zoo. The fair’s petting zoo is moving indoors this year (to the Coliseum) so be sure to go check out these adorable little guys (and gals) in air-conditioned comfort.
Prizes will be awarded to top examples of the breed at livestock shows on October 6th and 7th. The fun annual tradition of the Miniature Zebu costume contest will be held Friday, October 5th at 7PM. Exhibitors dress up their cattle (and sometimes themselves too) and compete for prizes.
Zuzu African Acrobats
A show favorite for several years, the Zuzu African Acrobats will return to the fair this year with daily performances on the Esplanade.
Zedonks and Zonkeys
If you go see the zebus in the Children’s Health Barnyard, you’ll also probably see some zedonks and/or zonkeys. Both are cross breeds between a donkey and a zebra.
See You at the Fair!
I think the best way to wrap up this A to Z is to say that there’s much more to see and do at the State Fair of Texas than you can fit into one day. Plan a couple of trips if you can, or go all out and get a season pass. If you’ve been enjoying the Texas state fair your whole life, I encourage you to see and do something new this year. And if it’s your first time to go, I hope this list will help you find some of brand new favorite things at the State Fair of Texas.
If you’ve been enjoying the Texas state fair your whole life, I encourage you to see and do something new this year. And if it’s your first time to go, I hope this list will help you find some of brand new favorite things at the State Fair of Texas. Be sure to say “Howdy” to Big Tex from all of us at FunCity Stuff.
Are you thrilled that the State Fair of Texas is finally here? Tell us about your State Fair memories and plans in the comments or on our Facebook page!
Be sure to visit BigTex.com for full details about the fair and its events. You can even use their interactive itinerary builder to plan your visit. I hope the fun facts and insider tips from this guide will make your day at the fair in Dallas unforgettable.