Rachel Hastings is a University of Dallas senior and her article is based on an original blog post at rachelhastingsclass.wordpress.com.
The State Fair of Texas is in full swing after first opening its gates on Sept. 26. Over the next two weeks, visitors from across the state will continue to flock to Fair Park in Dallas for car shows, concerts, cotton candy and more.
The fair offers a wide variety of activities, from concerts and football games to pig races and carnival rides. Among the most popular of these activities are the livestock shows, in which 4-H groups from across Texas compete in showing pigs, cows, sheep and a variety of other farm animals. If you want a closer look at the animals, guests are welcome to stroll through the corrals and pet them, provided the owner is around.
The auto show is also popular. The fair reserves 400,000 square feet of exhibit space to show the latest models from some of the world’s top manufacturers. Whether you prefer a muscular Ford or a compact Fiat, visitors will leave the exhibit wishing they had not spent so much money on fair food.
And fair guests will spend money on food. It is inevitable. Every year, contestants compete for the titles of Best Tasting and Most Creative in the State Fair Big Tex Choice Awards. Among this year’s eight finalists were deep-fried Sriracha Balls, the Chicken-Fried Loaded Baked Potato, and Fried Sweet Texas, a combination of pecan pie, peach cobbler and buttermilk pie with a side of Blue Bell ice cream. After evaluating all of the finalist’s dishes, the panel of judges awarded Best Taste to the Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil and Most Creative to the Funnel Cake Ale. If none of these delectable treats tickles your fancy, you can always go with a classic “corny dog” from Fletcher’s corn dog stand.
Despite the Texas charm, not everyone is enthusiastic about the fair. Joe Hernandez, a souvenir vendor at the State Fair of Texas, considers the month long celebration to be a bit overrated by residents of the Lone Star State.
Hernandez, along with other Dallas-area college students, was recruited to work at the fair by a scout who conducted interviews at his school. So far, he has not been very impressed with the fair’s traditional Texas-style fun. There are food and games, he acknowledges, but most of it is too expensive for a college student.
However, according to Hernandez, unlike the pricey funnel cakes and fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the turkey leg is a meal deal. “The turkey leg is good,” Hernandez said. “It will fill you up, and they have different sauces you can add depending on how you like it.”
“I’ve done some of the stuff on my breaks, but I haven’t brought anybody to walk around on my days off,” Hernandez continued. “This isn’t really my thing, and I just don’t have the money for it.”
Samantha Bond, a University of Dallas senior who also recently experienced the fair for the first time, offered a different opinion. She recommended the fair as well worth the money.
“They have great food and drinks and really nice entertainment,” Bond said. “There is a lot of free stuff and you can be on a budget and still have a good time.”
She particularly enjoyed the live music and family-friendly atmosphere.
“I really liked listening to the live band and watching the little kids dance,” Bond said. “That was awesome.”
The State Fair of Texas is one of the Dallas area’s oldest traditions, dating all the way back to 1886. According to the State Fair of Texas website, the only times that fair activities have been suspended since its founding were during World War I and World War II, during which time Fair Park was converted to a temporary army facility. By the 1950s, the fair had become wildly popular. Vice President Richard Nixon visited for a day, Elvis Presley sang at Fair Park’s Cotton Bowl, and the first Big Tex, the iconic semi-robotic statue frequently used in State Fair marketing, was constructed on the grounds. At that time, fair attendance averaged around two million. Today, almost three million people attend the fair each year.
General admission tickets can be purchased for $17 at any of the gates. On Wednesday, guests who bring three canned food items can get into the fair for only $3. Food and ride coupons are 50 cents each. For more information, please visit http://bigtex.com.