State Fair of Texas Guide: Sept. 27-Oct. 4

Go for a spin.
Go for a spin.

Step inside. I’ll be your cruise director for everything you must do and see at this year’s State Fair of Texas. That includes the newly reborn Big Tex, who got a little roasted last year but returns to us looking just as hardy as ever.  If you buy your admission online in advance, you’ll save a little bit of cash. Here’s your day-by-day plan for this first week, where you’ll also find a listing of recurring events at the bottom.


A crank to call your own, courtesy of Williams Sonoma.
A crank to call your own, courtesy of Williams Sonoma.


Tex Behind the Scenes With the Dallas Morning News. Our city’s paper of record has the scoop on everything behind the fair’s faithful greeter. While you’re there, check out the entire exhibit, The Life & Times of Big Tex. 11 a.m., Hall of State.

Ice Cream Crank Contest. What is it about the fair that brings out our sweet tooth? Contestants are vying for the best old-fashioned ice cream in traditional flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and fruit. See who comes out with the cherry on top. Noon, Contest Kitchen.


Rocky Mountain Horses. Don’t miss this showcase from equine experts as they demonstrate how they train and communicate with horses. 1, 2, 3, and 5 p.m., Ranch Arena.

Pan Am Cattle Show: Beefmaster. 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.

An Evening With Molly Ringwald. Yes, that Molly Ringwald. 8:30 p.m., Silverado Main Stage.


The Life and Times of Big Tex. An exhibition that follows the history of the gentle giant. Daily, 10 a.m. to close, Hall of State.

Milking Parlor Demos. Watch cows from local farms demonstrate modern milking procedures. 11:30 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 on the wine garden stage from Fingerprints at 4 p.m.  10 a.m until close, across from the Creative Arts building.

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.

Mapapa African Acrobats. A group of street artists contort their bodies into all sorts of insane positions. Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m, and 4 p.m., Music Hall Plaza near First Ave.

Chinese Lantern Festival. This traditional festival of lights was a huge hit at last year’s State Fair. Don’t miss the 300-foot Imperial Dragon Boat and the Porcelain Pagoda, made out of hand-tied porcelain dishes. There will also be assorted other glowing artworks depicting animals, buildings, and stories. See it by day, or all lit up at night. The attraction costs $14 for adults and $9 for children, payable in food & ride coupons only, but you can re-enter as many times during that day as you wish. Daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

BMX Bike Star Show. Big Time ActionSports team performs gravity-defying feats. 2, 4, 6 p.m. The Thrillway.

Ostrich Races. New this year, these goofy-looking long-legged creatures make strides. 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. weekdays, with an additional race at 7:45 Saturdays and Sundays.

Pig Races. Three times a night, visitors can bet on their favorite pig as they trundle down the pike. 3, 4, 5 p.m. Pan Am Arena.

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.

Starlight Parade. We love a parade, particularly one with lighted floats, and giant puppets. 7:15 p.m. Throughout the fairgrounds.

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. Catch this guy in action every weekend of the State Fair, though you can admire his creations daily. 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.

Compiled with help from web editorial intern Paulina Lopez and interactive designer Renee Blostein. 



  • MichaelinLH

    So, at the pig races you can bet on a cow (bovine)? Pigs are porcine! Have some respect! 🙂

  • bigtexburns

    It is not the Reliant Parade this year….. Reliant backed out… no sponsor