The State Fair of Texas is known for celebrating all things Texan with more than 2.5 million guests from around the globe each year.
After a year hiatus, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the time-honored tradition is returning in all its Lone Star glory on Friday, September 24.
It has been nearly two years since they closed the gates and said so long after the 2019 State Fair, and with more anticipation for fall than ever before, they are counting the days until they welcome back people from all walks of life with a great, big, “Howdy, Folks!” at the 2021 State Fair of Texas.
Dates: September 24 – October 17, 2021
Hours: Sundays – Thursdays 10 am – 9 pm, Fridays – Saturdays 10 am – 10 pm
Location: Fair Park, 3809 Grand Avenue, Dallas, TX 75210
Here’s our top tips on what to see and do and how to do it without breaking the bank!
How many hours should we expect to spend there?
Expect to spend 4-6 hours there, depending on how much of the fair you want to enjoy – how many shows you watch, how many rides you take and how old your kids are, and what their stamina will allow!
If you arrive at noon and leave at 8pm, expect lines to be shorter between 3.30 and 4pm and
How much money should I expect to spend at the State Fair of Texas?
Budget to spend $200-$400 for 2 adults and 2-3 children.
Food is more expensive this year than in previous years. Tickets for food items this year are now one dollar per ticket (double what they were in past years). All the good food items are well over 15 tickets each. I think one turkey leg is like, 26 tickets.
Which attractions are free at the State Fair of Texas?
Big Tex – He is a landmark who’s been photobombing since 1952! The area around him gets really crowded but is a great meeting area.
Animals – Visiting and feeding the animals is a huge highlight every year. Don’t miss the Petting Zoo and the Mom and Baby Animal Area.
The Fair has always promoted Agriculture, Education, and Community Involvement and some of the best Contests and Animal Shows feature highly in most childhood memories.
For Kids aged 3-6 years old, head to the PeeWee Stampede and Rodeo in the Ranch Arena. They can saddle up on a stick horse and participate in mock rodeo events.
Check out the Little Hands on the Farm in the Coliseum exhibit – Kids can try out farm life, learning about seeds, planting, harvesting and taken them to market
Kids can also feed and see a variety of Barnyard animals and a Petting Zoo at the Coliseum.
Dog Show – if you are a dog lover then don’t miss the indoor dog show. This is a nice treat to be able to sit down in the a/c! This is a great show that is kid friendly and short and sweet. It does draw a crowd so be prepared to wait.
Shows – favorites from last year include Pogo Sticks, Bike Show, dog tricks, cat show, Light show, cooking demos. The Bird Show is also very popular.
Which attractions require tickets at the State Fair of Texas?
The Big Wheel – Lines are usually long but if you can wait, the views are awesome.
The Fair Park Buildings – This is the largest collection of Art Deco in the country and many have interesting sculptures and exhibits inside too. Don’t miss the Car Shows and the Texan Pavilion.
Midway Games – popular with the kids, you’ll need to buy tickets to play and ride. Don’t miss our favorite – the Dentzel Carousel! One of only 3 still working in the United States, it has 66 horses, a Wurlitzer Organ and has been a part of the Texas State Fair for 72 years. The Midway opens at noon, so plan your visit accordingly.
Rides start at 5 tickets and the most expensive ride is the Slingshot for 35 tickets.
Check out the Miniature Trains in the Errol McCoy Greenhouse – it’s a favorite for smaller kids too.
Getting there and Parking
We encourage you to ride the DART so you don’t have to deal with parking. State Fair visitors can ride the DART Rail Green Line to two stations – Fair Park Station, located on Parry Avenue at the entrance to the fairgrounds, and MLK, Jr. Station, located south of R.B. Cullum Blvd. and convenient to the MLK fairground entrance (Gate 6).
The rideshare pick-up/drop-off area is conveniently located just inside Gate 5. When you’re ready to head home, exit the grounds to meet your ride outside of gate 5.
If you do drive, parking by the Midway is easy and costs $20 on the fair grounds. You can also get VIP parking for $40 for the day.
Mom Tips for the State Fair of Texas
- Pull up the map and events online before you go so you can plan your walking route
- Get there before it opens for shorter queues
- If you have younger children, go during the week, while the big kids are at school
- Buy tickets online
- Know where the bathrooms are
- There is a kids area across the pond with free kids activities
- If you can avoid the weekend of TX/OU game – it is very busy
- Play midway games at the end so you’re not lugging around prizes
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes
- Lower crowds on week nights and Sunday mornings
- Ride the swan paddle boats
- Watch the Parade
- Ride coupons don’t expire so you can use last year’s
State Fair Food – this is one of the highlights of the Fair. You can’t leave without eating a Fletcher’s corn dog. They never taste as good anywhere else as they do at the State Fair. Other food favorites include funnel cake, turkey legs, and don’t miss the food court area to try the award-winning foods of the Fair.
The State Fair Big Tex Choice Awards began in 2005 and highlights the most unique and interesting dishes you can sample at the Fair.
Mom Tips on Food
- Bring in food, water and coolers (no glass, no alcohol)
- Share bigger portions so you can taste more of what’s on offer
- Arrive after lunch so you’re not hungry
- The taffy stand near the rides sells single pieces for 25c
- Most recommended – funnel cake, corny dog, steak on a stick, fried snickers bar, fresh lemonade
- Thrifty Thursdays offer great discounts on certain types of food
- There are samples in the shopping pavilion
- Buy a refillable souvenir cup to save money on drinks, can use previous year’s cup too!
- Bottled water is 2 tickets, but if you buy their cup for 2 tickets, you can use the refill stations with those. We encourage you to bring your own water in the event you cannot find the water fountains if it’s a hot day.
- Food coupons don’t expire so you can use last year’s
- If you buy a refillable Big Tex cup for $10, you can refill it for $3 each.
Now, we know taking your family to the Fair can be expensive. We have a lot of ideas on ways to save!
Go Mondays – Thursdays for cheaper entry and smaller crowds. If you want to visit more than once, consider a season pass for unlimited entry.
Purchase tickets in advance at your local Kroger and get $3 off premium one-day admission tickets or $5 offseason passes. They may be purchased at the check-out counter or service desk from September 1, 2021, to October 17, 2021.
Discount coupons are available at participating McDonald’s locations throughout North Texas on tray liners and inside their meal bags. With this coupon, any fairgoer can save $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday.)
All active military, retired military, and veterans save $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday) when they present valid documentation of military service at the gate or online. Spouses of servicemen and women with a valid Military Spouse ID and accompanying children under the age of 18 also receive discounted admission.
All first responders can save $5 off on weekdays (Monday-Friday) and $7 off on weekends (Saturday-Sunday) when they present a valid badge or ID card from their department or organization at the gate or online, plus up to three discounted admission tickets for their family members.
Bring five cans of food to a State Fair of Texas gate as a donation towards the North Texas Food Bank on any Wednesday during the Fair and receive a $5 admission ticket. One 5-can donation per person. Discount can not be combined with any other offers.
Every Wednesday of the Fair – visitors have the best discount opportunity to save big AND give back to the community. North Texas Food Bank – $5 Admission.
Dr Pepper Value Days are every Tuesday and Thursday during the Fair when you can purchase your admission ticket online for a reduced price of only $10.
Only Big Tex Insiders receive the promotion code for this exclusive savings so be sure to sign up. Most rides are $3 per person on 1/2 price day.
Bring two jars of peanut butter to donate to the North Texas Food Bank for a special Opening Day promotional price of $10 admission at the gate. This discount is only available at the gate.
Every Thursday during the Fair, senior citizens 60 years and better get into the Fair for only $5.
For more discount options or information on any of the above, the State Fair of Texas offers tips to help you save.
Go after 5pm!
Is it safe to go with kids after 5pm?
On ANY night of the week, visitors receive reduced general admission after 5 p.m. No matter your age, all guests pay the child price for that particular day. Available at the gate and online, after 5 p.m. everyday
We noticed that adults wore more revealing outfits later in the day and you may notice more adult smells in the air as the evening progresses. With smaller children, it’s worth considering that in planning your visit.
At night there’s a parade and a laser show.
The State Fair is just one of 20 unique things Texans have to explain to visitors
More ways to save every day
Save with a Season Pass – With a wide variety of discounts available throughout the run of the Fair, there are endless ways to save. One of the best ways to save is by purchasing a State Fair of Texas season pass. Seeing and experiencing everything at the State Fair in one day is nearly impossible. What is the perfect solution? Season Passes are now available for only $50, which includes 24-day admission as well as a variety of special VIP benefits.
Discounted Group Tickets – Want to get a group of friends or your company together for a day at the State Fair of Texas? They offer discounted group tickets starting for groups as small as 25.
Get Discounts Delivered to your Inbox – Sign up to become a Big Tex Insider and get the latest ticket discounts emailed to you. Insiders also receive first access to pre-sales, information on every show and State Fair attraction, discounted merchandise from the Big Tex store, and a special message from Big Tex on your birthday!
Are you going to the Fair this year? What are your favorite things to do?
If you’re at Fair Park and want to enjoy more family-friendly fun, head over to the Texas Discovery Gardens for the Daily Monarch Release at noon watch as they release butterflies into the Butterfly House, as well as daily Toddler Talk at 11am, and Critter Encounter at 2pm.
This year’s theme is “HOWDY, FOLKS!” WELCOME BACK TO THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS. Here’s a look at the daily schedule and ticket price information. For all other State Fair Information – check out their website.