State Fair of Texas, 2016


Big Tex

We came. We saw. We ate our way through the Fair.

The State Fair of Texas is tremendously huge. It spans 277 acres and we spent five hours going from one end to the other. We used to attend the smaller South Texas State Fair when we lived in east Texas. In many ways I liked it better. It was smaller, but that made it intimate and friendly.

The State Fair of Texas is a massive complex of checks and balances to make sure everyone stays safe and has a good time. There is a lot of police presence. There was a sunscreen station that gave you squirts of sunscreen and plenty of waterless hand sanitizer stations for when you finish petting the animals. There are entire buildings set aside for lost kids, baby care, and first aid.

There’s a car show in Dallas every year, but you can see the new rides here too.  They were awfully pretty! Greg kept sitting in all these different cars and trucks to see how they felt. I tried a few too. Very tempting.

There’s a building set aside for arts and crafts. Although they have their own building, it seems like a token tribute, a nod to how fairs used to be in the old days.

Nowadays, it’s the vendors who get center stage and they hawk their wares as loudly as carnies hawk their games. They tried to sell us everything from mattresses, to hot tubs, to insoles.

We don’t do rides anymore. Most rides give me whiplash, so I gave it up. I’d rather walk around and see the animals anyway.

The most impressive animals are definitely the Budweiser Clydesdales. I barely come up to their thighs. It’s hard to imagine such a gigantic beast unless you see them in the flesh. Pictures don’t do them justice. This year they were in their own private stalls. The last time I saw them they had a community stall. They’re put into harness and driven once a day, but we missed that. Darn!

There’s also Big Tex, the Fair’s mascot. He talks and moves his head and arms, welcoming visitors all day long and making announcements. Big Tex is 55 feet tall and weighs 25,000 pounds. He’s pretty awesome to see in real life, but a little creepy looking in my opinion. People love him out of sense of nostalgia.

I think the only reason Greg agrees to go to the fair is for the food. I’m not a fair food connoisseur like Greg. I’m happy with corn on the cob, though this year they had a fantastic Greek salad. It was delicious! Greg went for the giant turkey leg.

Prices were astronomical for everything: parking, entrance, food, and rides. Luckily a friend gave us free tickets to enter the fair grounds. I don’t see how families can afford to go. You could easily spend a couple of hundred dollars for food and rides.

We were worn out by the end, but it was a good time. Once a year it’s good to walk around, eat Fair food, and look at animals I don’t have to feed, and pens I don’t have to clean.

If you’ve been to a fair, what was yours like? I’ve only ever been to the ones in Texas. Someday I’d like to try others.

You can click on each thumbnail for a larger view. Some of the shots are a little overexposed because of the time of day, but I did the best I could. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough to take a picture of Greg’s turkey leg. By the time I thought of it, he’d already finished! Never get between a man and his turkey leg.


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  1. JackieBCentralTexas

    The only fair that I have been to was Dallas State Fair way back in 1980 for our Senior Trip. I remember the heat, the seemingly endless miles of walking we endured until the fairgrounds closed that night, the rides and that my best friend got lost and we all had to sit on the bus until she was located so we could leave for the hotel.

    Maria your photos of the animals prove one thing, they are much cuter on my computer screen since cannot smell or hear the noises of either the animals or the humans that surround the grounds with chaos.

    • Jackie: You bring up a really interesting point. I remember going to the “old” fair. There were no obnoxious smells of any type, except for the occasional fairgoer with too much perfume.

      But it was all so homogenized. I think it gives people the wrong idea that animals are always this clean and non-smelly.

      For the real experience, they should visit my place while ‘Ray Charles’ is in rut. It might change the minds of many future farmers. 🙂

      It’s really big though and although you can still get lost, there are so many people able to redirect you, it’s almost impossible to stay lost long.

  2. The Clydesdales came to our town last summer. They are so beautiful and awesome. Most counties in PA have a fair and we have the PA State Farm Show that is only a few miles from us. The food is terrific. We always went when the kids were little to see the animals.

  3. Looked like a fun state fair!! You are right, it can be so expensive though! Hubby had an employee taking his family to the Arizona State Fair running through the end of the month here in Phoenix. We calculated it easily could be a $200 to $300 dollar day between parking, food, rides, etc. The last fair we went to was the San Diego County Fair back in 2015. The food always smells and looks amazing, but the prices sometimes prohibitive. Good fun though!


  4. I gave up the state fair way back when and switched to the county fairs, then I downsized again to the local festivals. No animals but lots of arts and crafts, and more fair food than I could possibly eat in a day so it’s enough for me.

    But I would love to see those Clydesdales up close someday.

    • Stephanie: Such a shame that it’s become dangerous. Ours is in Dallas, which of course is huge, but the city really strives to keep everyone safe. Police are everywhere and I think people behave themselves because of it.

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