State Fair of Texas

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State Fair of Texas
State Fair of Texas logo.png
State fair of texas from skyway 2009-09-30.jpg
The State Fair of Texas
Genre State fair
DatesStarts last Friday of September and last 24 days.
27 September–20 October 2019.
Location(s)Fair Park
1300 Robert B Cullum Boulevard
Dallas, TX 75210
Years active1886–1916, 1919–41, since 1945.
Attendance2,250,433 (2017)
Website Official website

The State Fair of Texas is an annual state fair held in Dallas at historic Fair Park. The fair has taken place every year since 1886 except for varying periods during World War I and World War II. [1] It usually begins the last Friday in September and ends 24 days later. With an annual attendance of over 2 million, [2] it is consistently recognized as one of the most highly attended and best state fairs in America as well as Dallas's signature event. [3] [4] [5]

A state fair is an annual competitive and recreational gathering of a U.S. state's population, usually held in late summer or early fall. It is a larger version of a county fair, often including only exhibits or competitors that have won in their categories at the more-local county fairs.

Dallas City in Texas, United States

Dallas is a city in the U.S. state of Texas. With an estimated 2017 population of 1,341,075, it is the ninth most-populous city in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. Dallas is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States and the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S. that lacks any navigable link to the sea. It is the most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country at 7.3 million people as of 2017. Dallas is the seat of Dallas County. Sections of the city extend into Collin, Denton, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties.

Fair Park recreational and educational complex in Dallas, Texas

Fair Park is a 277-acre (112 ha) recreational and educational complex located in Dallas, Texas. The area, which is immediately east of downtown Dallas, is registered as a Dallas Landmark and National Historic Landmark. Many of the buildings were constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936.



Big Tex, mascot of the fair since 1952 BigTex-457.jpg
Big Tex, mascot of the fair since 1952

The State Fair of Texas opening day ceremonies are highlighted by the annual Friday parade rolling through downtown Dallas. [6]

Traditionally, the centerpiece of the fair has been the annual college football game between Oklahoma and Texas, nicknamed the Red River Rivalry (historically known as both the "OU-Texas Game" or "Texas-OU Game") and played in the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park. Also, the State Fair Classic, featuring Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M University, is played at the Cotton Bowl during the fair. In 2010, Baylor and Texas Tech played their game during the fair for the first time. During the opening weekend of the 2013 fair, Army and Louisiana Tech played in the only Heart of Dallas Classic at the Cotton Bowl; it was abandoned thereafter. The new Texas State Fair Football Showdown is scheduled to take place on the third weekend of the 2018 and 2019 fair and will feature Southern and Texas Southern. [7]

College football collegiate rules version of American/Canadian football, played by student-athletes of American/Canadian colleges and universities

College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.

Oklahoma Sooners football football team of the University of Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners football program is a college football team that represents the University of Oklahoma. The team is a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The program began in 1895 and is one of the most successful programs since World War II with the most wins (606) and the highest winning percentage (.762) since 1945. The program has 7 national championships, 48 conference championships, 162 First Team All-Americans, and seven Heisman Trophy winners. In addition, the school has had 23 members inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and holds the record for the longest winning streak in Division I history with 47 straight victories. Oklahoma is also the only program that has had four coaches with 100+ wins. They became the sixth NCAA FBS team to win 850 games when they defeated the Kansas Jayhawks on November 22, 2014. The Sooners play their home games at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Lincoln Riley is currently the team's head coach.

Texas Longhorns football football team of the University of Texas

The Texas Longhorns football program is the intercollegiate team representing the University of Texas at Austin in the sport of American football. The Longhorns compete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big 12 Conference. The team is coached by Tom Herman since 2017, and home games are played at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.

The State Fair of Texas is the only fair in the US to include a full auto show, dating back to 1913. [8]

The State Fair used to feature "Birds of the World" where several birds flew overhead. It was removed from the Fair lineup in 2014. The Texas Skyway is a gondola ride which only operates 24 days a year transports visitors around the fairgrounds. Its construction cost 5 million dollars. There is also a BMX bike show as well as dog and pig races. For children, puppet shows, Children's Medical Center Barnyard, and Story Time also take place inside the fair. [9]

In recent years, the fair has emphasized its reputation as an event featuring unique, albeit high-fat foods. It has been known for years for Fletcher's brand corny dogs. Recent years have seen the introduction of new unusual deep-fried items, including deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried s'mores, deep-fried pork ribs, fried cheesecake; deep-fried butter, fried avocados, deep-fried peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwiches, and most recently a batter-based fried Coke. New foods in 2008 included chicken fried bacon and fried banana splits. For the 2012 fair, the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas added the deep-fried Samoa cookie. [10]

Oreo Chocolate sandwich cookie with creme filling.

Oreo is a brand of cookie usually consisting of two chocolate wafers with a sweet crème filling, marketed as "Chocolate Sandwich Cookie". Introduced in 1912, Oreo is the bestselling cookie in the United States. As of 2018, the version sold in the U.S. is made by the Nabisco division of Mondelez International.

Twinkie snack cake

A Twinkie is an American snack cake, marketed as a "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling". It was formerly made and distributed by Hostess Brands. The brand is currently owned by Hostess Brands, Inc., having been formerly owned by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos and Company as the second incarnation of Hostess Brands. During bankruptcy proceedings, Twinkie production was suspended on November 21, 2012, and resumed after an absence of at least ten months from American store shelves, becoming available again nationwide on July 15, 2013.

Smore Traditional campfire treat

A s'more is a traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada, consisting of a marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker. National S'mores Day is celebrated annually on August 10. The Guinness World Record for the number of people making s'mores at one time was 423. It was set on April 21, 2016 in Huntington Beach, California.


Originally what was known as the State Fair of Texas was held in Houston from 1870 through 1878. [11]

In its modern incarnation, the State Fair of Texas was charted as a private corporation by local businessmen. It was an immediate success and attracted thousands of people. However, in 1904 a series of events led to a financial crisis and not enough income was available to keep the fair running. Therefore, the businessmen sold it to the city of Dallas with the agreement that 24 days during the fall would be set aside annually for the fair and exhibition. [12]

Big Tex, a 55-foot (17 m) tall cowboy statue, has been its symbol since his introduction in 1952. In 1953, Big Tex's jaw was hinged, so that he appears to "speak" the announcements that promote fair events. [13] After a fire on October 19, 2012 destroyed the original Big Tex, he was rebuilt and reintroduced for the 2013 fair. Big Tex is claimed to be the world's tallest cowboy. [14]

Its 212-foot (65 m) Texas Star Ferris wheel was the largest in North America when it debuted in October 1985, just months before the Texas Sesquicentennial. It has since been dwarfed by Ferris wheels in Las Vegas and Orlando. [8] [15]

DART's Fair Park Station and MLK Jr. Station opened in 2009 to serve Fair Park and the State Fair. In addition to regular service on the Green Line, the Red Line and Blue Line also run "special event" trains to Fair Park Station for major fair events. [16]


In 1955, Juanita Craft organized a protest of the State Fair of Texas against its policy of admitting blacks only on "Negro Achievement Day." [17]

The State Fair in 1966 commissioned a report on the redevelopment of the fair, which concluded that the land around Fair Park should be `bought up and turned into a paved, lighted, fenced parking lot" that would `eliminate the problem from sight'. "If the poor Negroes in their shacks cannot be seen, all the guilt feelings…will disappear, or at least be removed from primary consideration".

The State Fair came under fire in October 2014 for spending over $5,000,000 on attorneys fees to two insiders. [18]

Despite a $30,000,000 investment in Summer Adventures, the event was shuttered after just one season. [19]

In August 2015, the State Fair was sanctioned more than $75,000 for filing a SLAPP suit[34] against a lawyer who had requested financial documents from the State Fair. On August 2, 2016, the Dallas Court of Appeals reversed in its entirety the judgment against the State Fair of Texas, holding that the trial court erred in, among other things, finding that the State Fair's lawsuit was a SLAPP suit. [20]


A glimpse of the State Fair of Texas at night in 2006 Texas State Fair at night.jpg
A glimpse of the State Fair of Texas at night in 2006
Texas Star Ferris wheel at night Texas Star - Texas State Fair.JPG
Texas Star Ferris wheel at night
The Texas Star ferris wheel ride Texas-Star-4146.jpg
The Texas Star ferris wheel ride

Economics, finances and management

The economics, finances and management of the State Fair of Texas is a matter of public concern and study. The five main areas of concern are:


Staff of the State Fair have traditionally reported that attendance at the fair runs in the vicinity each year of between 3 and 3.5 million people. These figures were disputed in an April 2016 study published by Tom Kelly, Ph.D, a professor of Economics at Baylor University and the Director of Baylor University Center for Business and Economic Research, along with Bennet Hickok, an Economics student at Baylor. The Kelly/Hickok report argues that the attendance at the fair is about 1.5-1.7 million visitors a year, or about half of what state fair staff reported it to be. [41] According to the 2017 State Fair of Texas Annual Report, [42] the Fair attracted a total of 2,250,433 attendees during the 2017 event with roughly 93,000 daily guests.

Economic impact on surrounding businesses

The 2016 Kelly/Hickok study found that the State Fair generates around $50 million for the area economy. This is in contrast to the figure of $600 million in impact that the State Fair itself has traditionally reported. [43] [44] [45]

How excess revenue is spent

The State Fair has a lease with Fair Park, the terms of which require that any profit or excess revenue it generates be spent "for the development and enhancement of Fair Park and the Fair". In May 2016, the State Fair released a list of capital projects for the past 10 years, detailing how the fair had spent their excess revenue. According to media reports, 90% of excess revenue was spent on projects that solely benefited the State Fair. A survey of Fair Park revealed out of the 277 acres available, 200 are covered in asphalt or concrete, compared to 10 acres of green space. [46]

Staff compensation

In 2014, Errol McKoy, the former President of the State Fair of Texas, received $1.425 million in compensation. [47] [48] [49]


On May 13, 2016, the City of Dallas Auditor, Craig Kinton, released an audit regarding Fair Park Business Partners, which included the State Fair of Texas. The audit concluded the City of Dallas had no way to ensure the State Fair was adequately investing in Fair Park, per the terms of the contract between the City of Dallas and State Fair. [50]

See also


  1. Archived 2014-02-13 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Daily Attendence". The State Fair of Texas. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  3. Lipsey, Sid; Travel, Yahoo (June 5, 2014). "The 7 best state fairs in America". New York Post.
  4. "America's 5 Best State Fairs" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  5. Chieftain, Pueblo. "". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  6. "State Fair of Texas: Opening Day Parade - Dallas Socials". 25 September 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  7. Luke Johnson (October 8, 2016). "'This is a major deal:' Southern to play Texas Southern in 2018–19 Texas State Fair Football Showdown". Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  8. 1 2 "What makes us unique," Archived 2008-09-13 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  9. "Official website of The State Fair of Texas".
  10. Tepper, Rachel (July 11, 2012). "Deep-Fried Samoa Girl Scout Cookies Hit The State Fair Circuit". Huffington Post.
  11. Meeks, Flori (March 28, 2013). "Few traces remain of state fair site". Houston Chronicle . Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  12. Nancy Wiley, "State Fair of Texas", Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 16, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  13. Steven Butler. Fair Park Timeline, part 4: The Post-Exposition Years (1938-1984)
  14. State Fair of Texas
  15. Norman Anderson. Ferris wheels: an illustrated history, Popular Press, 1992, page 138-40.
  16. Archived 2009-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  17. Women In Texas History - Juanita Craft
  18. 1 2 Phillips, L. P. "State Fair Of Texas Pays 'Above Average' Legal Bills" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  19. 1 2 "There won't be Summer Adventures in Fair Park this year". 18 February 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  20. 1 2 "Dallas Court of Appeals Opinion".
  21. "Dallas Public Library - Site Map" (PDF). Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  22. "Everything you need for the State Fair of Texas". GuideLive. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  23. "Ferris Wheel Seat Plunges Killing Girl". The Bulletin. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  24. "University of North Texas Digital Library, "Fair Park Expansion: A Case Study of Political Bias and Protest in Urban Politics", Davies, Elizabeth Durham. Accessed August 25, 2016" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  25. IRS 990 Year 2010 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, "State Fair of Texas"
  26. IRS 990 Year 2011 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, "State Fair of Texas"
  27. "Get your thrills on the $12 million adrenaline rush now open at Fair Park" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  29. Schutze, Jim (21 February 2014). "Fair Park's Summer Amusement Venture Is Dead. Is Anyone Surprised?" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  30. "Big Tex Makes His Debut One Day Early" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  31. IRS 990 Year 2012 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, "State Fair of Texas"
  32. "Dallas council enthusiastic about proposal to privatize Fair Park". 3 September 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  33. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2014-10-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  34. "Include edges in Fair Park revitalization". 9 September 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  35. "Dallas Leaders Praise New Fair Park Plan" . Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  36. IRS 990 Year 2013 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, "State Fair of Texas"
  37. "Plan to reduce State Fair space would end its run, official says". 26 March 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  38. "Dallas Park Board has signed off on Rawlings task force's proposal to privatize Fair Park". 23 May 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  39. Strategic lawsuit against public participation
  40. "Judge sanctions State Fair of Texas after it sued lawyer who wants to see Big Tex's checkbook". 14 August 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  41. Kelly, Tom; Hickok, Bennet (April 2016). "Reassessing the Economic Impact of Fair Park and the State Fair" (PDF). Baylor University. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  42. 2017 State Fair of Texas Annual Report Retrieved Jul 15, 2018
  43. Shipp, Brett (May 4, 2016). "Economist's study raises eyebrows about State Fair's future in Fair Park". WFAA. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  44. Thompson, Steve (April 15, 2016). "How valuable is Big Tex to Dallas? State Fair's fuzzy numbers make it hard to tell". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  45. Thompson, Steve (April 19, 2016). "Big Tex's economic impact? Try $50 million, says new study on the State Fair". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  46. Wilonsky, Robert (May 13, 2016). "Dallas isn't keeping a close eye on Big Tex and city's other Fair Park partners, says audit". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  47. Thompson, Steve (April 22, 2016). "Big Tex tries to be more transparent about State Fair spending". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  48. Cassidy, Jon (May 2, 2016). "State Fair's expenses help explain Fair Park's blight". Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  49. "STATE FAIR OF TEXAS". Economic Research Institute. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  50. Kinton, Craig (May 13, 2016). "AUDIT OF FAIR PARK BUSINESS PARTNERS OVERSIGHT" (PDF). Office of the Dallas, Texas City Auditor. Retrieved 27 July 2016.

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Big Tex is a 55-foot (16.75m) tall statue and marketing icon of the annual State Fair of Texas held at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. The figure has become a cultural icon of Dallas and Texas. Since 1952 Big Tex has served as a cultural ambassador to visitors, and the statue's prime location in the fairgrounds serves as a traditional meeting point.

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