The State Fair of Texas isn’t happening this year. It has been back and forth since May, with State Fair officials saying they would move forward unless a government order prevented it. Then its organizers said they would wait until July to make a final call about its presence at Fair Park.
That decision came today. The board of directors has decided that the Midway will be empty from September 25 through October 18. The last time the State Fair was canceled was during World War II. The Fair is leaving the decision to the colleges as to the future of the Red River Showdown between the University of Texas and Oklahoma and the State Fair Classic between Prairie View and Grambling State.
We know this is tough news for you to stomach. So here’s something to make you feel better. It’s Alice Laussade’s great story from 2016, the only investigative feature ever written about fried Jell-O. And then, for dessert, learn all about the wild ride—LSD, goats, and oil—of the Texas Fried Frito Pie. The 2021 edition of the State Fair is set for September 14 through October 17.
Here’s the full statement from the Fair:
After extensive consideration of the current landscape related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety of all fairgoers, staff, business partners, and overall community, the State Fair of Texas Board of Directors has voted to cancel the 2020 State Fair of Texas.
“This was an extremely tough decision. The health and safety of all involved has remained our top priority throughout the decision-making process,” said Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas. “One of the greatest aspects of the Fair is welcoming each and every person who passes through our gates with smiles and open arms. In the current climate of COVID-19, there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love. While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas. The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season.”
The Fair’s commitment to our nonprofit mission of promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement will continue. The Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and livestock shows, Big Tex Scholarship Program, Big Tex Urban Farms, and our community outreach initiatives will continue to have funding and we commit to maintaining as many participation opportunities as possible as it relates to livestock and creative arts.
While the State Fair of Texas is canceled for 2020, the NCAA, respective conferences, and participating universities – the University of Texas & University of Oklahoma and Prairie View A&M University & Grambling State University – will be in charge of making decisions regarding the football games that occur at Cotton Bowl Stadium during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. Should football be played this fall, the schools will be playing in the Cotton Bowl as scheduled, despite the cancellation of the 2020 State Fair. We will share those details as soon as we know more.
The decision-making process has been thoughtful and extensive. The Fair gathered input from fairgoers, concessionaires, commercial exhibitors, Midway operators, auto manufacturers, business partners, staff, medical experts, and government officials to consider while coming to this conclusion. The Fair realizes the impact not holding a Fair will have on our loyal fans, valued partners, and the North Texas economy, but we must do what is right for the health and wellness of our community.
With health and safety as the top priority, the management team and the board of directors have been discussing all potential scenarios since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team has brainstormed many ways to make this year’s event occur, creating various contingency plans and approaches, but knows that all these plans fail if our annual celebration of Texas contributes to any further spread of the virus through our community.
“While we are heartbroken at the notion of not welcoming more than 2.5 million of our closest friends for this annual celebration of the Lone Star State, the excitement we feel in moving forward with planning the 2021 State Fair of Texas and keeping this 134-year tradition alive will keep us motivated until we can greet our fairgoers, seasonal staff, and business partners again in a safe environment,’” said Mitchell Glieber, president of the State Fair of Texas.
This will be the first time since World War II that the State Fair of Texas has not opened. The State Fair of Texas has previously canceled Fairs because of World War I (1918), planning for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and 1937 Pan American Exposition at Fair Park (1935 – 1937), and World War II (1942 – 1945).
The 2021 State Fair of Texas is scheduled to run Friday, September 24 through Sunday, October 17 in historic Fair Park.