We got to Texas just in time to attend one of the last days of the Texas State Fair. We last went five years ago and I was itching for a little fair food.
Since it was Saturday, the fairgrounds in the heart of Dallas were only a thirty minute drive from our Airbnb in Rowlett. We picked up three of our grandchildren and headed out in a wonderful fall-feeling fifty degree morning.
We found a $20 parking spot in a convenience store lot just across the street from gate 5. Just about anyone with some blacktop was running a $20 parking business in the surrounding area. There was no line to buy 2 senior (yes, we both qualified), 2 child and one (free) toddler ticket for admission. We were already in for about $100, and we had just arrived. Going to the fair is not a cheap date.
Our first stop was a children’s aquarium, promising sharks and sting rays. (Oh, by the way, that was a separate admission price.) It was actually a nice collection of fish and sharks, and we did get to pet some baby sting rays. We also dipped our hands into a tank filled with doctor fish that gently pecked away at the dead skin on our hands.
Our seven year old, Eden, wanted to ride the huge ferris wheel, so she and my wife got in line. I bought a bunch of coupons for rides and food and gave them twenty for the ride (BTW, coupons are $1 each), while I took the other two off to grab some corn dogs. After they quickly disappeared, we headed to the cattle barns.
As with any good state fair, the livestock barns are enormous. We walked through stall after stall of beautiful cows being cleaned and prepped for showing that day. They were the best of the best. The ferris wheel riders met us at the swine barn, where we saw the best hogs from around the state. The champion boar, weighing in at 1155 pounds, was sound asleep in his pen out side the barn.
By now everyone was hungry again, so I rounded up two more corn dogs, some lemonade, a burger and an huge plate full of french fries. Fully fueled we made our way back to the birthing barns.
The birthing barns were cool. We saw several calfs born that morning as well as litters of hogs from the past few weeks of the fair. A few goats were about to give birth, too. This was a very popular and crowded venue.
From there we walked through some shopping booths, filled with lots of unique jewelry, clothing and toys. By this time, we had done a lot of walking and still needed to see Big Tex, so we made our way back towards the gate where we came in. By mid-afternoon, the fair was crowded, but we made it to the big guy. We did lots of walking, but the kids (and the grands) took it in stride.
On our way out, people continued to stream in the gates. Cancelled in 2020, this year’s fair was expecting 2.5 million visitors over twenty-four days, taking in over $65 million dollars and generating close to $500 million of business for the community. It is the biggest state fair in the country.