State Fair of Texas Guide: Sep. 30-Oct. 7

                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit: Matthew Visinsky (c) 2009

The State Fair of Texas is upon us. And while it is by far one of the best excuses to chuck a diet to the wind, there’s plenty of other stuff going on. Each week we’ll present all the noteworthy things to see and do that don’t involve puking up fried bubble gum on the Tilt-a-Hurl Whirl. Jump for your day-by-day plan, and find a listing of recurring events at the bottom.

Sep. 30

Opening Day Parade. You weren’t really working anyway. Noon. Downtown.

Opening Day Ceremony. 7 p.m. Heritage Hall.

Glue a Shoe Contest. For those whose shoes aren’t quite interesting enough, one of the first fair activities gives the ultra-competitive among us the opportunity to out-Bedazzle the competition. Categories include boot, high-heeled shoe, sandal, tennis shoe, and flip-flop or loafer. Entries accepted at 9 a.m., judging at 10:30 a.m. Contest Kitchen, Creative Arts Department.

Pan Am Nigerian Dwarf Goats Local Club Show. In case you were wondering, here’s what a Nigerian Dwarf goat looks like. And in case your kid decides he wants one of these cuties for a pet after watching the show, they’re gentle, give good milk, and are supposedly easy to train. 9 a.m. Swine Area.

Kraig Parker’s Ultimate Tribute to Elvis. 8:30 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.

Oct. 1

It’s a red letter day for fans of ethnic, folk, and clog dance. Wander over to the Hall of State to catch Boitumelo (10 a.m., 10:50 a.m.), Philippine Dance Company of San Antonio (12:10 p.m., 3:50 p.m.), Sonido de Flamenco (10:20 a.m., 11:30 a.m.), Daniel de Cordoba Bailes Espanoles (12:40 p.m., 2:20 p.m.), Bluebonnet Scottish Country Dancers (2 p.m., 5:10 p.m.), Mexico 2000 Folklorico dance School (1:30 p.m., 3:10 p.m.), Fire on the Mountain Cloggers (1 p.m., 5:50 p.m.), San Antonio Contra Dancers (2:50 p.m., 4:30 p.m.), and the American Turkish Association-Houston Turkish Folk Dance Group (6:40 p.m.).  Plus:

Dairy, Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy Goats Costume Contest. More goats! But in costume this time. Any of these will work. 6 p.m. Swine Arena.

Grambling State vs. Prairie View A&M. 6 p.m. Cotton Bowl.

Farmer Mike works his magic.

Miguel, 3 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.

Oct. 2

Bread baking contest. This sounds fairly straightforward, and a delicious opportunity for carb monsters to eat their fill and then walk off the extra calories with a full day of traipsing about the grounds. 10:30 a.m. Contest Kitchen.

Vietnam Memorial Wreath Laying. 2 p.m. DAR House.

KC and the Sunshine Band, 5:30 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.

Oct. 3

SideDish's Nancy Nichols' snapped Badovinus' Spam on a spit.

The Great American Spam Championship. See how creative people can get with canned, pink, precooked meat product. We nominate Nick Badovinus. Roast that sucker on a spit. 10:30 a.m. Contest Kitchen.

Bri Bagwell and the Banned, 4 p.m-4:55 p.m/5:45 p.m.-7 p.m./8:30 p.m.-9:15 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.

Oct. 4

Celebrity Kitchen. Chefs Abraham Salum and Alan Havans of Komali (home of the best margarita in Dallas and some intense mole) are cooking at 12:30 pm. Creative Arts Building.

Rob Hunt, 4 p.m-4:55 p.m/5:45p.m.-7 p.m./8:30 p.m.-9:15 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.

Oct. 5

Tex-Mex Contest. Think you make the best salsa in Dallas? Get ready to set fire to both the competition and the taste buds of anyone who happens to wander by. 10 a.m. Creative Arts Building/Contest Kitchen.

Blue Bell “Have an Ice Cream Float” Day. Cool off with a free treat, which is something that does not happen at the fair all that often. Noon. Food and Fiber Pavilion.

Maiden Texas, Chevrolet Main Stage, 4pm-4:55pm/5:45pm-7pm/8:30pm-9:15pm

A 1931 Model A Deluxe Coupe, owned by Linda and Jason E.
A 1931 Model A Deluxe Coupe, owned by Linda and Jason E.

Oct. 6

Dallas Model A Ford Club. The Model A was Ford Motor Company’s very first car, produced way back in 1903. After the company found mega success with the Model T years later, they produced a second Model A vehicle in 1927 just to make things confusing. The Dallas Model A Ford Club is concerned with the Model As built between 1928 and 1931. And if you have a thing for old-fashioned cars, here’s your chance to see some that have been painstakingly restored. 10 a.m. Grand and 1st Ave.

Dallas Police Department Horse Show. They’re the closest we’ve got to Canadian Mounties. The Dallas Mounted Police are putting on a show with their equine partners. 3 p.m. Ranch Arena.

The Royal Rhythmaires, 4 p.m-4:55 p.m/5:45p.m.-7 p.m./8:30 p.m.-9:15 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.

Oct. 7

Guided livestock tour. Check out all the animals the fair has to offer under the tutelage of someone who knows what they’re talking about. Tours leave every 15 minutes starting at 10 am through 5:45 pm, and last 50 minutes. All day, corner of Nimitz and Coliseum Dr.

Pan AM Beefmaster Cattle Show. Only one person can wear the crown of “beefmaster.” Show up to see who raises the very best beef as participants from all across the United States show off their cows. 4 p.m., Livestock Judging Pavilion.

JB and the Moonshine Band, 8:30 p.m. Chevrolet Main Stage.


Milking Parlor Demos. Watch cows from local farms demonstrate modern milking procedures. 11 a.m., 12:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 p.m. Pan Am Barn.

State Fair of Texas Wine Garden. Enjoy wine by the glass and snacks daily, plus live music (including jazz) on the weekends. Experts will also conduct “wine talks.” 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays through Mondays, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. Wine talks usually occur around 1 p.m.

The Texas Skyway. Can’t decide where to eat, what to ride, or whom to see onstage? This 1,800-foot aerial track is a great way to scope out the fairgrounds.

Cirque Shanghai. A group of Chinese acrobats perform amazing aerial stunts and contort their bodies into all sorts of insane positions. Noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; additional performance at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Gateway Plaza.

BMX Bike Star Show. Big Time 720 Action Sports team performs gravity-defying feats. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. The Thrillway.

Pig Races. Three times a night, visitors can bet on their favorite bovines as they trundle down the pike. 6, 6:45, 7:45 p.m. Pan Am Arena.

United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corp. Catch these guys, who came all the way from Washington, D.C., every afternoon from Sept. 30 to Oct. 17 at Marine Corps Square, as well as each night during the evening parade (excluding Wednesdays).

Illumination Sensation. This nightly show–likely to leave the kids (and some of their parents) with mouths agape–features lights, water, music, and fireworks. 8 p.m. Esplanade reflecting pool.

Reliant Starlight Parade. We love a parade, particularly one with lighted floats, drum and bugle players from the U.S. Marine Corps, and giant puppets. 7:15 p.m.

Chevrolet Town Square. Test drive new cars and power up your mobile phone– a super handy feature that’s new this year. Activities for kids include a mini Texas Rangers wiffle ball stadium and a soccer shoot out park. East Park Plaza near gate II.

Jump! Ultimate Dog Show. Dog lovers will want to check out this show demonstrating canine skills and agility at least once. 11 a.m., noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Pan Am Arena.

Farmer Mike Pumpkin Carver. Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Greenhouse on the Midway.

Kroger Birds of the World Showcase. 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 6 p.m. every day. The Band Shell.

Jeep Climbing Wall. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Jeep Show/Automotive Building.


  • I am going to eat some Fried Canteloupe AND then the Tilt-A-Whirl…..Pukeapalooza!

  • Unclever Pseudonym

    Totally worth the wait, Liz! Thanks for the list.

  • Bizarro Big Tex


    man, I love saying that!

  • That pic of the Ferris Wheel is awesome.

  • Daniel

    Nigerian dwarf goats are affectionate and they don’t talk back like wives do. On the minus side, they can’t pay the rent and utilities bills or cook, and you can’t steal beer money from their purse.

  • Shelly

    What we really need to know is when the public school days are happening.

  • Daniel, I contemplated a pro-con list for choosing a Nigerian dwarf goat as a pet/significant other, and all I came up with on the negative side was “still a goat.”

    Shelly, the public school days are Oct. 7, 8, 10, 14, 15, and 22. Oct. 7 is Coppell and DISD elementary; Oct. 14 is DISD high schools. Oct. 8, 15 and 22 are Frisco, Hubbard, Keller, McKinney and Plano. Oct. 10 is just a big catch-all public school day.

  • Shelly

    Thanks Liz!