State Fair of Texas

Just 3 Weeks To Go Until Big Tex Says ‘Howdy Folks!'

With the State Fair of Texas just weeks away, here's a guide to help you plan your visit

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Here’s a friendly reminder that we are exactly T-minus three weeks away from the kick off of the State Fair of Texas.

It’s the first time North Texans will experience a traditional fair in two years.

Big Tex will make his big comeback on Sept. 24 through Oct. 17 as the State Fair celebrates its 135th year.

Organizers say the hope is for families to come back to tradition.

“The whole team is elated to be planning for a full State Fair of Texas this year,” said spokesperson Karissa Condoianis. “The State Fair of Texas is the most Texan place on earth.”

In 2020, the fair was canceled for the first time since World War II in the 1940s.

“It was a very difficult day when we had to make the tough decision to cancel the 2020 State Fair of Texas,” said Condoianis. “The team was able to pivot and was able to plan some incredible events that took place in lieu of the fair."

Last year, organizers planned a drive-thru fair food experience, which brought the highlights of the fair to visitors as they drove through the fairgrounds. People were only able to exit their car to take a quick picture with Big Tex.

"It just doesn’t compare to the 24 days of the State Fair of Texas," said Condoianis.

This year, fair officials said it will feel like a state fair of years past but with some differences.

The State Fair of Texas kicks off on Sept. 24 for its 135th year.

Safety Protocols

Earlier in the summer, fair organizers asked for feedback on what people wanted to see this year.

“Most of the feedback was, let’s have a fair,” said Condoianis. “They said ’please have the fair this year.’ A lot of people missed it. A lot of small businesses rely on the fair for big chunks of their yearly income.”

There was also a lot of feedback regarding safety, as the state continues to grapple with rising COVID-19 cases.

The fair is following the mask mandate in Dallas county, so masks will be required indoors.

You don't have to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine but fairgoers are highly encouraged to be vaccinated before attending the fair.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, thank you! If you’re not, now is the time to be protected for when the Fair’s Opening Day arrives. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself and for everyone, especially children under age 12 and others who cannot currently get vaccinated,” reads a statement regarding health and safety on the state fair website. “It’s widely recognized that the vast majority of all current COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people. While we will not (and cannot legally) require you to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter the Fair, if you’re not vaccinated and plan to attend, we urge you to do your research, talk to your doctor, and consider a vaccine, both for your safety and the safety of others.”

COVID-19 vaccines are being offered on-site at Fair Park. If you get one, you’ll be eligible for $20 in fair coupons.

The fair wants visitors to know these protocols could change depending on the COVID-19 situation.

"We’re also recommending people consider – if you normally come on a weekend and you have flexibility in your schedule, to please come during the week,” said Condoianis. “Historically, attendance is lower during the week than it is on the weekend. So if you can shift those days to help us spread out the crowd that will help with social distancing in general.”

Officials said they have created more space in high-traffic areas and are adding more outdoor seating areas.

“The fairgrounds are huge, 80% of the percent of the fairgrounds are outdoors or in outdoor areas,” said Condoianis. “When you’re out on the grounds here, we are asking that if you’re in really crowded situations that you please put on a mask. It’s not required, but we are strongly urging that you do that for your own health and safety, and those around you.”

More than 500 free hand sanitizer stations are made available by the State Fair throughout the fairgrounds. Plus, there are hand sanitizing stations throughout the vendors, barns and livestock areas, where it's especially important to wash your hands after visiting the animals.

If you don’t feel comfortable in coming out to Fair Park, there will still be a virtual version of the state fair online this year similar to last year, called Fair From Home.

“Before you visit, make sure you’ve considered your personal health situation and how you can best keep yourself and those close to you safe and healthy,” said Condoianis.

Health and safety updates will be posted to

Pack Your Patience

Labor shortages have hit all industries, and the State Fair of Texas is no exception.

Organizers have been looking to hire seasonal workers for the duration of the fair.

“It’s no secret, there’s a staffing shortage. Especially in the hospitality industry. We feel like we’re on a good trajectory to be fully staffed by opening day but there may be some challenges this year related to COVID-19 and what that presents throughout the 24 day run of the fair,” said Condoianis.

That’s why fairgoers are being encouraged to be patient if there are longer lines or wait times for certain experiences at the fair.

“We’re all in this together,” said Condoianis. “Please practice patience and be kind to those who showed up to work and serve you at the great State Fair of Texas.”

Click here for more information about job openings.

Jobs start at around $12.38 and go up from there.

What’s New, What’s Returning

The fan-favorite Big Tex Choice Awards menu always looks delicious every year and this year’s options are no different. You'll have a choice of sweet and savory creations.

Click here to see the full list.

The State Fair of Texas revealed its 10 finalists for the Big Tex Choice Awards.
State Fair of Texas | NBC 5 News
The State Fair of Texas revealed its 10 finalists for the Big Tex Choice Awards.

Also returning is the State Fair of Texas Rodeo, which came back in 2018 and 2019 after nearly 30 years off. The rodeo is free with fair admission and will occur on weekend evenings.

  • Cowboys of Color Rodeo Sept. 24-25
  • Mexican Rodeo Celebration Sept. 26
  • State Fair of Texas Youth Rodeo Sept. 29
  • United Professional Rodeo Association Texas Finals Sept. 30 - Oct. 2
  • Bull Buckin' Weekend Oct. 8-9
  • State Fair of Texas Ranch Rodeo Oct. 15-16

On Saturday, Sept. 25, the State Fair Classic will kick off with the annual matchup between Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M University. The Red River Showdown is Oct. 9 between Big 12 powerhouses the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma.

Fair Park will house a new ride on Midway called Moonraker.

Also new this year, the Hall of State will host an exhibit celebrating the Fair's 135-year history in Fair Park.

In the Midway, families can find a new vintage puppet show called Country Round Up, set on a rotating carousel stage.

“Around here, were referring to it as almost a mix of ‘America’s Got Talent’ meets Yeehaw. It’s there in the heart of the Midway, in the shadow of the Texas Star Ferris wheel where you can relax at a picnic table in the picnic grove and lean back and in the show before you ride more rides,” said Condoianis.

Check out the complete list of attractions here along with the State Fair's live music lineup here.

Season passes and premium tickets can be purchased online at Daily ticket sales will go up soon. 

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