Monday, October 10, 2011

State Fair of Texas 2011

Cynthia and Jackson with Big Tex
Making a trek to the annual State Fair of Texas is a longstanding tradition in my family.  In fact, we usually go multiple times: once with kids to play games and ride rides and again for a date night to wander the exhibits the kids find boring and eat fried foods (again).

Created in 1886, the State Fair of Texas immediately attracted many notable historical figures and celebrities the first few years like John Philip Sousa and Booker T. Washington to Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson.

The 1950s included the development of an international livestock show, installation of a monorail system, a Cotton Bowl concert by Elvis Presley, a visit from Vice President Richard Nixon and the first appearance of Big Tex, a 52-foot cowboy figure erected in the center of the grounds.

Did you know that in 1962, The Dallas Texans (AFL) and the Dallas Cowboys (NFL) played their first season in the Cotton Bowl?  Traditionally, one of the centerpieces of the Fair has been the annual college football game between University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, nicknamed the Red River Shootout and played in the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park.

Fried Bubblegum
In recent years the fair has emphasized its reputation as an event featuring unique - albeit high-fat - foods.  For years the star of the show has been Fletcher's brand corny dogs.A Fletcher's stand is always my first stop upon entering the Fair grounds.

Recent years have seen the introduction of new unusual deep-fried items, including deep-fried Oreo cookies; deep-fried Twinkies; deep-fried S'Mores; fried cheesecake; deep-fried peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwiches, a batter-based fried Coke, chicken fried bacon and fried banana splits.

Fried Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack
When Oprah Winfrey came to town in 2009, she visited the Fair and just couldn't resist trying deep-fried butter.  This year's award winners were Fried Bubblegum and Fried Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack. Of course, I had to sample them both.

The Fried Bubblegum is a marshmallow like consistency that tastes just like bubblegum. It was...okay.  The Fried Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack was a big winner. It had jalapeno flakes in the batter so it had a little kick to it. Great flavor. I definitively recommend this one!  We usually end up stopping in the Food Pavilion because it's air-conditioned and you can sit down, relax and there is a wide variety of food choices inside this building.

If you are taking kids, there is no escaping the Midway so plan to go on a Tuesday for half-price rides.  Every Tuesday during the 2011 season, bring an empty Dr Pepper can and enter for $4. Most rides (excluding the Thrillway and the Texas Star) are 5 coupons - instead of the usual 10-12 coupons!

My friend, Angela Patterson, wrote a great article over on that gives you all kinds of information about how you can find great discounts and deals to make your visit to the Fair more affordable. 

No visit to the Fair is complete without a night-time ride on the Texas Star Ferris Wheel.  At 212-foot (65 m) it is the largest in North America and provides a spectacular view of the Fair grounds and Downtown Dallas.

I think the State Fair of Texas is one of our city's best events. I look forward to it every year. Whether you are on a date, going with a group or looking for a fun way to spend some quality family time, the State Fair of Texas is a great way to spend a day!