It’s that time of the year, y’all—the State Fair of Texas is back! Twenty-four fabulous days of fried food, football, family fun, and farm animals (and if we really get lucky, fall weather, too). Since I’m a Texas girl, I’ve always enjoyed this time of the year and have passed my love of all things Big Tex on to my three boys. For us, it’s a MUST DO when September/October roll around! I realize the it can be totally overwhelming, so I’ve compiled a list of a few tips for maneuvering The Great State Fair of Texas with littles.
1. Plan Ahead
General admission tickets are sold at the gate for $18/$14 (adult/children under 48″ tall) but can also be purchased online for $16.50/$12.50. Children under age three get FREE admission. A few dates/times to consider for discounted admission are:
- Any day after 5 pm! Bring an empty Dr. Pepper can for half-priced admission (one can per person).
- Any day discount from McDonald’s: Save $5 off general admission or half-off children’s admission when you bring in a tray liner from or bag stuffer coupon from McDonald’s (one coupon per person).
- Friday, October 13, 2017: First Responder Day. All first responders will receive FREE admission to the Fair when they present a valid badge or ID card from their department or organization, plus up to three admission tickets for their family members. Valid documentation must be presented at the gate. Offer and ticket valid only Friday, October 13, 2017.
- Dr. Pepper $6 Tuesdays: Bring an empty Dr. Pepper can and receive $6 admission to the State Fair (one can per person). Most rides are reduced price as well.
- $4 admission on Wednesdays: Bring four cans of food for donation to the North Texas Food Bank any Wednesday during the fair and receive a $4 admission ticket (one 4-can-donation per person).
- Senior Days FREE Admission: Senior citizens 60 years and better get into the Fair FREE every Thursday of the State Fair.
- $7 Admission on Thursdays: Bring an empty 20-oz. bottle of any Coca-Cola product and receive $7 admission to the State Fair (one bottle per person).
- Food discounts on Thrifty Thursday!
Getting to the Fair: Parking at official State Fair lots is $15/space or you can take the DART Rail Green Line that will take you directly to one of the main entrances!
Hours: Sundays–Thursdays: 10am –9pm, Fridays–Saturdays: 10am–10pm. Parking gates & ticket booths open daily at 7am.
2. Restroom and Baby Care
There are 18+ restrooms scattered throughout the fairgrounds. Three of these are located in or near the Midway rides, two are very close to Big Tex, and one is near the Little Hands on the Farm. There are two baby care centers where you can change diapers and/our nurse your baby away from the crowd in a tent complete with rocking chairs and a little peace and quiet. These are located by the Children’s Aquarium and the Little Hands of the Farm attraction.
To purchase any food/drink and rides on the Midway, you will need coupons (and lots of them). State Fair of Texas coupons are sold for 50¢ each at coupon booths located throughout the fair. One coupon sheet with 20 coupons is sold for $10. Tasting the “fair food” is a big reason why people visit the State Fair of Texas, but if you have any dietary restrictions or other reasons for wanting to bring your own food or beverages, please do. (Note: Alcohol, glass containers, and metal knives and forks are prohibited.)
4. Family Fun
- Each night at 7:15pm, the State Fair presents the Starlight Parade, a lighted procession featuring spectacular floats, lively music, dazzling costumes, and a fun assortment of characters.
- Midway rides cost on average 10-12 coupons.
- There is a Kidway area inside the Midway that featured scaled-down rides for pint-sized fair-goers.
- The Oak Farms Theater is home to two activities geared toward younger children, the Backyard Circus and The World of Magic. Suitable for toddlers to eight years old. You’ll find the Oak Farms Theater in the east end of the Creative Arts building.
- The Kids’ Boardwalk is a colorful venue that stretches across the southwestern edge of the Leonhardt Lagoon and features a variety of kid-friendly shows, games, and activities, all free with State Fair of Texas admission. The Kids’ Boardwalk is open daily from 10am- 7pm.
- Kids will also enjoy Mother Goose Story Time, presented by the Dallas Public Library, which includes favorite childhood tales told through songs, storytelling, and games.
- Kids love this miniature farm where they can plant seeds, gather eggs, and drive a tiny tractor before harvesting crops and taking them to market. With earnings from selling their crops, kiddos can purchase snacks in the General Store. Open daily from 10am-7pm. Suitable for toddlers to eight years old. Located on the east side of the Cotton Bowl near the Coliseum Marketplace.
- Kids ages four to 12 are invited to test both their tractor-driving skills and their leg power as they compete to win prizes while the crowd cheers. Each vintage pedal tractor is weighted so the farther you pedal, the harder it is to reach the finish line. Kids compete to see who can pull the most weight. Four Daily Sets of Races. Suitable for ages four to 12 years old. Tractor pulls take place between the Swine Barn and the Horse Barn.
- Get up close and personal with a variety of farm friends, from giraffes and zebras to pigs and goats. While you’re there, make sure to visit the nursery where sows, ewes, nanny goats, and their young are on display. Open daily from 10am-7pm. Suitable for all ages. Located between the Pan Am Arena and the Swine Barn.
5. Days to Avoid
If you want to avoid a super-crowded state fair experience, the two dates to skip out on are: Saturday, October 7 & Saturday, October 14. These are college football days. Prairie View A&M University and Grambling State University come together for what’s known as the State Fair Classic at the Cotton Bowl Stadium inside the fairgrounds. On the second Saturday, the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma come together for an epic battle of bragging rights at the AT&T Red River Showdown. More than 100,000 people travel to the State Fair for this game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners. The game, played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium since 1929, is an iconic staple of the State Fair. Trust me when I say that if you ARE NOT a fan of larger than normal crowds and lines, just take a break from the fair on these two days!
I hope you take a day out with the family and enjoy all that the great State Fair has to offer!