The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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What you need to know before you go to the fair

This isn’t your grandmother’s carnival.

The Texas State Fair has been held in Dallas since 1886. Whether you’re looking for food, fun or entertainment, the fair has it all.

This year’s fair will be open until Oct. 19, giving the SMU community plenty of opportunity to enjoy its offerings. The State Fair is held in Fair Park, an area of 227 acres located east of downtown.

Exhibit buildings are open Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, buildings close at 9 p.m.

If you’re a first-time fairgoer, or you just forgot what’s available, The Daily Campus has put together a little guide:


General admission to the fair is $14. Children 2 and under are admitted for free, while children under 48 in. are admitted for $10.

Seniors 60 and over pay $10, except Thursdays when they can get it for free, thanks to a sponsorship by Mature Texan Magazine.

A Garden Getaway combo ticket is $17.

Those who come to the Fair for the Texas-OU or A&M Commerce football game get automatic admission with their ticket.

Discounted tickets are available at Kroger for $12.50. Kroger also has a season pass for $29.95.


Official State Fair parking is available for $10 per car. There are also other parking sites not run by the State Fair available near the fairgrounds. Prices vary.

The Fair offers valet parking for $25 through the Grand Ave. gate as well as the Parry/Haskell entrance.

Disabled parking is also available.

For those without a car, DART is providing transportation from the Pearl Station on Saturdays and Sundays.


Instead of taking cash, booths that offer food and drinks and rides take State Fair coupons. Coupons are purchased at special kiosks located throughout the fair.

Cash and credit are accepted.

Each coupon costs $0.50.

ATMs are also located throughout.


The Texas State Fair boasts approximately 70 amusement rides, including the tallest Ferris wheel in North America, the 212 ft. Texas Star. The Ferris wheel allows four to six people to ride together, going completely around twice and providing views of Dallas. Prices vary for each ride, but it takes 12 coupons to ride the Texas Star.


If you don’t like the rides, consider the culinary wonders offered instead. With about 200 food service locations, chances are you’ll find your favorite food or drink (fried, that is).

Finalists of the 2008 Big Tex Choice Awards are Fernie’s All-American Fried Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Fried Banana Split, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Waffle Balls, Deep Fried S’mores, Fire and Ice (deep fried pineapple ice cream), Fried Chocolate Truffle, Chicken Fried Bacon and Texas Fried Jelly Belly Beans.

Chicken Fried Bacon took the prize for best taste, while Fried Banana Split took the prize for most creative.

If you’re not feeling gastronomically adventurous, the fair still offers traditional fare such as pizza, chicken, and the corny dog, invented in 1942 by State Fair concessionaires Neil and Carl Fletcher.

Free samples can be found at the Food & Fiber Pavilion at varying times.


Live music is featured throughout the fairgrounds. The Chevrolet Main Stage will host a variety of musical acts, such as Jessica Simpson on Oct. 17 and Michelle Branch on Oct. 18. A full list of acts is available on the website.


The fair offers several shows throughout the day. Pyrotechnics, fire and high-tech visual effects can be seen at the Illumination Sensation light show each night at 8 p.m. The Starlight Parade is held at 7:15 p.m. each night, giving fairgoers a chance to see lighted floats and giant puppets.


The fair started out as a livestock show, and it still offers livestock competitions today. If you’re not competing for the grand prize, the fair provides other opportunities to interact with animals, such as the petting zoo, located in the Children’s Barnyard. This zoo showcases animals from near and far, including a giraffe. Feed can be purchased to feed the animals.


The State Fair Auto Show is located in two exhibit halls and showcases 2009 models from a variety of car manufacturers. If you’re thinking about buying a new car or you want to see the newest concept, this show might be for you.


Fair Park is home to many Dallas museums, such as the African American Museum, the Hall of State, the Women’s Museum, and the Dallas Aquarium. The Museum of Nature & Science offers exhibits, IMAX films and a planetarium.


More than 300 vendors provide shopping throughout the fairgrounds. Look for hotspots at the Coliseum Market Place, the Grand Place, the Crafts Pavilion, the Centennial Building and the Embarcadero.


Two football games remain to be played at the Cotton Bowl during the Texas State Fair. The Red River Rivalry between Texas and OU will take place at 11 a.m. on Oct. 11. The game between Texas A&M Commerce and the East Central University of Ada, Oklahoma takes place on Oct. 18.

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