State Fair Food: A Method to Madness

More than 200 different food stands are placed in precise, purposeful spots around Fair Park

One of the main things to enjoy at the State Fair of Texas is the food, and there is no shortage of options available.

In fact, the Fair makes sure of that.

“They run a tight ship,” said Andy Salinas, of Irving, who has operated as a food vendor for 23 years. "They do good with the way they do it."

For 17 of those years, Salinas has been in the same spot — on the southeast side of the Cotton Bowl. That is no coincidence.

His menu has varied slightly over the years — his top sellers this year are the Walking Tacos and a bacon-wrapped Slovacek’s sausage from West, Texas — and each time it has required the approval of the Fair.

“You have to reapply with your menus," he said. "If you want to change them, you have to turn it in and they approve what you can and cannot do.”

For example, there are no fewer than 10 food stands that sell turkey legs at the State Fair. And it would not be good business if all of those stands were bunched together in one place.

“When we do that placement, we actually look at a product and determine how many we have in a close proximity to that product,” said Melanie Linnear, the Fair’s Director of Concessions.

According to Linnear, there are 77 vendors who operate more than 200 different food stands throughout Fair Park. Competition to become a food vendor at the Fair is stiff. Of the 77 vendors this year, only one of them is new to the State Fair of Texas in 2017.

“I try to tell people this is not your Friday night football concession,” Linnear said. “When you come out here to do this, this is a business.”

It is a goldmine, according to Lupita Valerio, of San Antonio, who has operated Lupita’s Gorditas from the same spot on the Midway for 21 years. “I do pretty good. OK, very well!”

Contact Us