What you should do at America’s largest state fair

I’ve been excited for the Texas state fair since I moved to Dallas earlier this year. I’ll be honest, I never made it to my own hometown’s state fair, or any state fair at all for that matter. I’m picturing deep fried food and carnival games.

In preparation for the Texas State Fair, which opens this weekend, September 27, and lasts until, October 22, I’m doing a little reconnaissance about what to do, see and eat.

A post shared by rewardStyle (@rewardstylehq) on

By the Numbers

  • The Texas State Fair is the largest state fair in the United States by attendance. Every year, over 2 million people flock to state fair grounds for some classic Americana.
  • The Texas State Fair was established in 1886.
  • This year, there are 24 continuous days of shows, attractions and food.
  • There are over 30 contests, most of them involving food.
  • 2 college football games are played in the Cotton Bowl on the fairgrounds, the State Fair Classic with Grambling State Tigers v. A&M Panthers and the Red River Showdown with the University of Texas v. the University of Oklahoma.

American Food Favorites

A post shared by Peach Boy (@meesh_kim) on

Come to the fair hungry and don’t expect to be kind to your wallet (or your waistline). There’s classic fair favorites and new concoctions, most of it deep fried and covered in cheese.

The classics:

Fletcher’s Corny Dogs– This dog claims to be the original corn dog. The Fletcher brothers sold the now classic combination at the 1942 Texas State Fair and the rest is history.

Turkey Legs– It’s not a state fair if you can’t walk around with giant turkey legs.

Sausage on a stick– See above

Frito Pies– Not so much a pie as a messy, crunchy, delicious southwestern dish, Frito pies are made of chili and cheese and topped with Fritos. Variations include rice, refried beans, onions, salsa, sour cream or jalapeños.

Award winners:

Every year, a panel of judges picks their favorite concessionaires. Here are their choices.

Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger– This monster of a dish won first place in 2 categories: best taste- savory and most creative. It looks a little intimidating to eat (and also like a heart attack on a plate) but the combination of sweet, salty and rich won over the judges’ taste-buds and will probably win over all of ours.

Gulf Coast Fish Bowl–  This blue punch cocktail won best taste– sweet. It’s served in a clear cup that resembles a fish bowl complete with Swedish fish and nerds. Bottoms up!

New comers:

Concessionaires create concoctions ready to be devoured by the adventurous. There are a lot of new food combinations. Here are a few of the more startling and even confusing new comers. (Note: not all the new comers have descriptions yet. We’ll have to wait to try them at the fair. You can read through the entire list here.)

Tamale Donut– Take a pork tamale, shape it into a donut and fry it, then drizzle it with a jalapeno glaze. Savory, porky deliciousness.

Carmel Sea Salt Beer– I really hope it’s like Butterbeer from the Harry Potter books.

Crawfish Lollypop– I’m not sure what this is (a sweet lollypop that tastes like crawfish, or crawfish served on a stick), but I’m curious.

Deep Fried Root Beer Float with Dragon’s Breath­– How does one deep fry root beer? And what is dragon’s breath? We’ll have the answers when the fair opens its doors.

Chicken Fried Spam Fries– I’ve never had spam but if there ever was a time…

Surfin’ Turfin’ Tator Boat– This dish has 3 different kinds of butter. First, there’s the roasted garlic butter in the potato, then the lemon herb butter on the lobster meat and grilled steak and finally there’s the cup of lemon butter for dipping the empress cut lobster claw into. Oh, and everything is topped with cheddar and romano cheeses.

Things to do

Now that you’re so stuffed you have to be rolled around the park, it’s time to find something to do! Your biggest problem won’t be looking for entertainment but instead, choosing which entertaining thing to go to.

Lone Star Stampede– Watch a Texas Longhorn cattle drive, traditional Native American dancers, sharpshooters and a performance with stagecoaches, horses, cowboys and bandits.

Wild West Pet Palooza– Dogs, cats, pigs, porcupines and more show off in a western themed show.

Pig Races– Adorable piglets run the track to see who is the fastest. They all win first place in cuteness though.

Little Hands on the Farm– A miniature farm made for kids, little farmers can plant seeds, gather eggs and drive a tiny tractor. I wonder if there’s an age cut off because who doesn’t want to drive a miniature tractor?

Children’s Health Barnyard– Check out farm animals and more exotic zoo animals. There is also a nursery with mama cows, sheep, and goats with their babies.


Top 5 Places to Travel: Stories from a World Traveler

Work and wanderlust have kept me on the road 200 days or more every year for the past three decades, until this...

Step Back In Time and Into the Wild with a Trip to Orcas Island

The benefits of travel go far beyond a simple change of scenery or the ability to engage in non-routine activities. One of...

Finding Prince: Dog-Friendly Road Trip in West Virginia

West Virginia is a pet-friendly paradise with outdoor adventures and scenic road-trip routes. It’s also where one sweet pooch found his way...

Utah’s Dark Skies: Canyonlands National Park

Take in the skies while floating and hiking in Labyrinth Canyon. Sights include towering canyon walls, remnants from early river runners...