Friday, September 27, 2013

Totally Texas -- State Fair's Big Tex rises from the ashes

State Fair of Texas

Fair Park, 1121 First Avenue, Dallas


The State Fair’s Big Tex continues to pull surprises out of his way more than ten-gallon hat. Last year he went up in flames. This year, he unveiled himself a day early, thanks to strong wind gusts. While I’d hoped the new Tex might be better looking than the old one, the features are still recognizable, although a little browner, perhaps a Hispanic Big Tex, ethnically appropriate for the state’s population in the twenty-first century.

To my eyes the new version’s expression looks a little anxious. Possibly because of the life-changing experiences he undergone. Possibly because he’s worried his new jeans make his now recognizably protruding butt look big. (Note: when you’re fifty-five feet tall, it’s all big, Tex.) He’ll still get an official unveiling at 2 o’clock this afternoon, opening day of the State Fair of Texas.

Pictures of Big Tex burning on the final day of last year’s fair will probably be featured in a new exhibit, “The Life and Times of Big Tex,” in the Hall of State this year.

Although the fair opens at 10 a.m. today, the opening parade is at noon, on Main Street from Houston to Good-Latimer in Deep Ellum. The artificial hill in the new Belo Garden park will be a great parade viewing site. DART riders should be aware that some downtown buses will be rerouted from 9 a.m. until after the parade ends.

The parade, of course, is a chance to see fair events for free, but not your only chance. I was appalled last year to learn that friends had paid full price for their tickets, when so many discounts abound. Besides the days local students get free admission (October 11 and 18) for Dallas ISD, fair goers age 60 and over get in free every Thursday (October 3, 10, and 17). Local Kroger stores sell tickets for $1 off.  For an assortment of other daily discounts, see Dallas at

Parking at the fairgrounds is $15 per vehicle, which makes sense if you cram your car full of visitors. But after years of parking and walking miles from the lot to the fairgrounds, I’ve sworn off any means of transportation to the fair except DART. Take the Green Line trains, usually labeled “FAIR” straight to the front gate. And while we’re talking about discounts, don’t overlook DART’s discounts, at

Use the money you save to spend inside the fairgrounds, maybe sampling some of the truly weird fried foods that are hallmarks of the fair. My daughter insists on consuming a Fletcher’s Corn Dog every year, but I’m curious about the likes of the Fried Thanksgiving Dinner, said to come with a cranberry dipping sauce. For a downloadable schedule and map of fair events, see

Although Big Tex returns, sadly, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps doesn’t, kept away by worries about the federal budget. I may have to down a Fried Nutella to drown my sorrow.


Need more entertainment this weekend? Dozens of museums in Texas will join 1,400 Smithsonian affiliates to offer free admission Saturday, September 28, for Museum Day Live!  For more information and a list of participating museums, see

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