After going nearly two years without a traditional fair experience, crowds have one more weekend to hop on rides and fill up on fried food at the State Fair of Texas.
Going into the last weekend, visitors and vendors say it feels good to be back.
“Being and bringing the community together to celebrate all things Texas has felt incredible this year,” said Karissa Condoianis, Senior Vice President of Public Relations for the State Fair of Texas.
For many longtime vendors like Juan Reeves, the fair is big business and a big family reunion. But like every other industry, they’ve also struggled with staffing shortages. He says they started the season with roughly half of the employees they typically do and continued hiring throughout.
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“Our family has six booths and it has been hard to have the proper staffing for every booth, two shifts a day for 24 days, that’s been our challenge. But the fair itself has been tremendous. The fair has been wonderful, the guests have been great and it’s just been nice to be back out here with our family for the vendors here, we’re all a family and we miss each other from last year” said Reeves, Co-Owner of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que and Ruth’s Corn Tamales.
It’s Jack Pyland’s 73rd year serving up his family’s famous fries.
“This is all I know to do in October. I’ll be at the state fair. I move out here and I don’t leave the grounds for a month. I just kind of stay here and this in my case, is part of my life,” said Pyland.
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And for so many families, the fair brings together some of the best things in life. Many were grateful to return to the tradition they’ve come to look forward to in-person and alongside loved ones.
“It was important because last year we were all quarantining during the pandemic and we couldn’t come and now we're able to come out and enjoy our mommy-daughter time,” said Chrystal Graves.
“Lot’s of eating, everything corn dogs, french fries, hotdogs,” said Rose Quinonez.
“The roller coaster because it was my first time on one,” said Kelsey Henderson.
Condoianis says this year marks the 135th anniversary of the fair. She says the nonprofit lost out on $20 million not having the fair for nearly two years. The money helps provide scholarships and supports other community programs. They hope this season will help them bounce back.