State Fair of Texas Guide: Oct. 4-13

Toys on toys on toys. Photo by Kyle Pennington.
Toys on toys on toys. Photo by Kyle Pennington.

If I learned anything from my trip to the State Fair last Monday, it’s that a visit to the Texas Discovery Gardens is worth the extra four bucks. There’s air conditioning, real person food from Bolsa Mercado and the Tamale Company (the vegan black bean enchiladas are so good), and beer from Four Corners Brewing Company. Plus, you can visit the butterfly house. The pretty winged things will make you happy.


Hakuna matata.
Hakuna matata.


Quebe Sisters Band. A family that fiddles together stays together. 4, 5:45, and 8:30 p.m., Silverado Main Stage.

Cupcake Vineyards Truck Tour. Stop by for a taste of Cupcake Vineyard wines and a sweet treat to go with. 10 a.m. to close, Nimitz Terrace. 

The Lion King. Long before director Julie Taymor got herself involved in the expensive-nightmare-turned-spectacle-cash-cow of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, she had a big hit with her production of The Lion King. It’s not only Disney’s most successful screen-to-stage endeavor, it’s Broadway’s highest grossing musical of all time. (We still love you, Phantom of the Opera.) If you show your Lion King tickets, you can get into the fair for free the day of your performance. 7:30 p.m, Music Hall at Fair Park.

Dino and the grandma pie at Zoli's. Photo by Kyle Pennington.
Dino and the grandma pie at Zoli’s. Photo by Kyle Pennington.


The O’s. 4, 5:45, and 7:30 p.m., Silverado Main Stage.

Will Hoge. 8:30 p.m., Silverado Main Stage.

Pan Am Goat Show: Angora and Colored Angora. The coat from the best in show winner would probably make a nice warm scarf. 10 a.m, Swine Arena.

Celebrity Kitchen. Cane Rosso‘s Dino Santonicola. 6 p.m, Creative Arts Building.

Red River Rivalry.
Red River Rivalry.


Red River Rivalry. Obviously the main event. The city segregates itself along maroon or burnt orange lines, and even neutral parties who attended neither school have to pick sides. Who will win? Who knows. What we do know is that it’s always fun to find out. If you don’t already have tickets to the actual game, there’s plenty on StubHub for $105 and up. 11 a.m., Cotton Bowl.

Ethnic Dance Performances. Laasya Nritya Academy, 10 a.m, 11:50 a.m.; Boitmelo – Caribbean, 10:30 a.m, 11:30 a.m.; North Texas Scottish Country Dancers, 10:50 p.m., 1:30 p.m.; SOL Ballet Folklorico Children’s Companies, 11:10 p.m., 1 p.m.; Azul Raks, 12:40 p.m., 2:30 p.m.; Maharlika Dancers, 1:40 p.m., 2:50 p.m.; Samba Vida Drum and Dance Performance Group, 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m.; Ballet Folklorico Raices Del Peru, 4 p.m., 6:50 p.m.; Hula Halau Ohana Elikapeka, 5:10 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Hall of State Steps. 

Turnpike Troubadours. 8:30 p.m., Silverado Main Stage.


Cookie Contest. Contenders must bring at least a dozen of their best batch. 10:30 a.m., Contest Kitchen in the Creative Arts building.

We The Ghost. This six-piece band out of Tulsa, Oklahoma lays claims to almost as many genres—acoustic, rock, reggae, indie, and probably a few more. 6 & 8:30 p.m., Silverado Main Stage.

Celebrity Kitchen. You’ll find Tim Byers of Chicken Scratch and Smoke at 12:30 p.m.; Kent Rathbun of Abacus and Ruthbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen at 4:30 & 6 p.m.



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.

Children’s Medical Center Barnyard. It’s tough to see exotic animals such as zebras, kangaroos, and giraffes stuffed into pens alongside domestic farm animals, no matter how cute the baby goats are. Also, the camel is mean. You can buy little cups of feed if you so desire. Free, daily.

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. 


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