AL3_0623How could I do a travel blog in Texas and not include the biggest Texan of them all?

Big Tex made his comeback this year after a horrific fire during the 2012 fair.  I don’t know about you, but watching videos of Big Tex burning was like watching a family member in a car accident.

When I was a kid growing up in the Dallas area, we received free fair tickets at school and districts were closed on opening day for Fair Day.  Big Tex was just as much an icon to me as fireworks on the 4th of July or turkey on Thanksgiving.

Don’t worry, Big Tex is back!

I recruited my my friend (and WFAA photojournalist) Taylor and uncle (and family fair expert) Jeff to help me with lots of fair food, fun and photography.


We arrived at the fair early afternoon and our first stop was the big man himself.

One of my favorite parts of the fair is the people watching and picture taking.  It’s such a colorful place with colorful people.  The area surrounding Big Tex and the midway are my favorite places to snap a few photos.  (More later in the post.)



Since we’re on the subject of Big Tex, there’s an exhibit at the Hall of State all about the history of Big Tex.  It includes all kinds of memorabilia like the salvaged portions from the 2012 fire, the Dickies belt buckle, various replicas, photos, a documentary and a memory wall where visitors can leave messages for Big Tex.




Big Tex is a main attraction, but why do people really go to the fair?  Food!

If you’ve followed the 24inTX blog, you know that I normally work alone.  This time I needed some help.  The food options at the fair are far too abundant for one person.  My advice is to get some friends together and share!  Each food item is large enough for three or so people to get a couple bites.  Plus, you’re not only splitting the potential indigestion, you’re splitting the cost.

This is a fair that operates on tickets.  Take your money to a ticket kiosk; food booths won’t accept cash.

We tried a handful of foods and we each had our favorites.  I’m going to skim over these a bit, but there are links at the end that will give you a full description of each dish.

I was partial to the deep fried red velvet cupcake, the deep fried shrimp and grits (with raspberry chipotle jam) and the fried Cuban roll.


Jeff preferred the chocolate chip cookie dough burrito and the classic Fletcher’s corny dog.  He also liked the fried s’mores and Belgian waffle, but those were sampled on a different day.



Taylor’s favorite was the fried Cuban roll, followed by the fried Thanksgiving dinner (though he wished it had more turkey).  For dessert he liked the deep fried red velvet cupcake.



We also tried the fried bacon cinnamon roll, fried Nutella and deep fried Snickers.  The fried bacon cinnamon roll lacked bacon and the fried Nutella was really just fried phyllo dough with Nutella, strawberries and bananas on top.  The deep fried Snickers…well, there’s nothing bad I can say about that.  It was great.

Nothing we ate was terrible, though Jeff said he tried the fried beer on a previous visit.  Not only were the fried, beer-filled raviolis awkward to eat, “unless you like warm beer, it’s not for you.”

There’s no way we could have sampled everything the fair has to offer.  There are simply too many different choices.  Click here to see the new 2013 foods.  Click here to see the food winners.

A new-ish trend is cocktails.  Margaritas, daiquiris and wine were featured more than past years.  There’s even a wine garden on the north side of the park that offers tasting and wine by the glass.

By early evening we’d had our fill of fair food, so we walked around a bit, took in the sights and tried to burn some calories.  (Photo break… Don’t go away, there’s SO much more great stuff!)









There are many different shows, performers, concerts, livestock competitions and other events every day.  Click here for a daily schedule.

For some fun free activities, stop by the livestock buildings for a tour and the Borden area to meet Elsie the cow and get some free ice cream!

One of my favorite things to do at the fair is ride the Texas SkyWay.  It’s a gondola that runs from Big Tex to the opposite end of the Midway.  I’m afraid of heights, but this ride doesn’t bother me at all.  It feels very secure and offers some nice views.


Wait, this is Texas!  We have a giant cowboy and the tallest Ferris wheel in North America.  We can’t just have an average gondola ride!

No, no, we must offer an even better, even higher view of the park.


That’ll work!

The Top o’ Texas Tower is brand new this year.  Like I said, I’m afraid of heights, but it’s totally worth it.  The outside ring of the tower is a seating area with floor to ceiling windows.  The ring moves up and down (slowly) and rotates 2-3 times all the way around.


Now that’s what I call a room with a view!

As the sun set we walked back to the car to grab the necessary equipment for some night photography.  We caught the Starlight Parade on the way.



Now if you’re a photo geek like I am, you never pass by a fair or carnival or even a great neon sign without thinking “Yes! Night photography!”  Obviously I couldn’t go to the fair without taking advantage of the lights on the Texas Star Ferris Wheel.


Taylor and I played around with night photography and time lapses until the park closed.  Here’s a short video with some Texas flair.

The rest of my 24 hours in Dallas were spent sleeping in and grabbing a quick salad lunch to try to counteract the fair food.  I could tell you about that, but let’s face it, all you really want to know about is the fair.  So I’ll leave you with that!

Here are some links that will help you plan your trip to the State Fair of Texas:

Official State Fair of Texas web site (including food listings, maps, ticket sales, daily schedule, lodging suggestions and more!)
A list of ways to save money on fair admission (you should look at this)
Dallas Morning News Big Tex iPad interactive special report (really cool and informative)
DART train schedules (it drops you off right at the gate so you don’t have to pay for parking)

One comment on “STATE FAIR OF TEXAS
  1. jp thomas says:

    Ashley ,
    WOW again ,great photo’s wonderful story , I never known the fair was all this !
    Thank you for the great insight ..
    I hope I can get out of Austin and make it up there .
    Thanks again

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *