If the 1914 Dentzel Carousel, 212-foot Ferris wheel, exhibition pavilions with the myriad different crafts, and pig races from our previous post did not sate your State Fair cravings, perhaps fair food will! Satisfied cravings and fair food-comas are synonymous, right?
If you’re hungry yet, you have to stop at Fletcher’s for the quintessential Fair food. Their best-ever corny dogs were introduced at the Summer Midway operation in 1942 (the Fair was cancelled that year because of WWII).
Fletcher’s employees make and sell over 500,000 corny dogs over the 24-day run of the Fair.
The term “Corny Dog” is trademarked by Fletcher’s. Other vendors sell “corn dogs.” Slather a hot one in mustard and wash it down with an ice-cold root beer. Yum.
Throughout the midway (sorry, Super Midway), you’ll have plenty of chances to indulge your taste for unusual fried foods. This is one state fair trend that still baffles. It’s hard to imagine that jambalaya or Snickers can be improved upon by frying them but we have to admit the deep-fried mac & cheese was pretty darn good.
The Cotton Bowl stadium sits at the very center of it all. It hosts two classic football matchups during the run of the Fair, but unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fan, avoid the grounds before and after the Texas-Oklahoma game. It’s a long-standing rivalry that guarantees a massive crowd (they take their football teams very seriously down here).
Snap a selfie with Big Tex. He made his debut at the 1952 Fair after starting life as a gigantic Santa Claus figure. His western garb is sewn at the original Dickie’s plant in Fort Worth—it takes a week to sew his jeans alone. Tex wears a size 200 x 325 (neck x sleeve) shirt, a 95-gallon hat, and a 33-foot-long belt. But big is the name of the game here after all.
Big Tex’s size 96 boots are replicas of a 1949 Lucchese design. To keep him up to date (and deal with wear and tear), Tex gets a new outfit every three years.
After a day of wandering the fair, Carla was happy with her Texas-size iced tea. With Big Tex on top, of course.
While you’re here, do a little shopping, too. You’ll have no trouble finding the perfect piece of jewelry or the latest kitchen gadget while on the fairgrounds. There are over 15 large shopping venues at the Fair showcasing some of the latest items on the market.
And everyone checks out the latest introductions from the auto industry. We saw more guys here than anywhere else on the grounds (or at least guys who looked happy).
In addition to hosting the annual State Fair, Fair Park includes several cultural institutions that are worth a visit, including the African-American Museum, the Perot Museum of Nature & Science at Fair Park, the Hall of State, and the Texas Discovery Gardens. Fair Park was transformed from an early 20th-century fairground into an art deco showcase for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. Today the 277-acre Fair Park, which boasts the world’s largest collection of art deco exhibit buildings, art, and sculpture, is a National Historic Landmark.
Get all the information on tickets, season passes (a couple of visits will pay for itself), schedule of events, and general info at bigtex.org.
While Dallas offers little in terms of tradition “site-seeing,” there’s still plenty to do to round off your stay. Down the road from the Fair is the year-round Farmer’s Market area (dallasfarmersmarket.org). Pick up some herbs or fruit to spike your tea or happy-hour cocktails at the market vendor stalls. Buy a bag of warm roasted nuts to munch on while you wander the aisles of fresh goods on offer. Stop off next door to pick out a few pumpkins, squash, pots of mums, and other produce and posies for your porch at Ruibal’s Plants of Texas (ruibals.com).
Just for fun, the Dallas World Aquarium (dwazoo.com) and the Dallas Zoo (dallaszoo.com) are both worth a day out. And if you’re looking for a little cerebral stimulation or a brush with history, the Perot Museum in Victory Park (perotmuseum.org), the Sixth Floor Museum (jfk.org), the Nasher Sculpture Garden (nashersculpturecenter.org), and the Dallas Museum of Art (dma.org) are clustered within easy distance of each other downtown. Finally, if epicurean delights tickle your fancy and designer duds and decor trip your trigger, the city is world-class dining and shopping mecca.
Have fun, y’all.
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