Every year, from late September to mid-October, people come from all over the U.S. and around the world to visit Big Tex, the legendary icon of Fair Park in Dallas. Today’s State Fair of Texas started out as the Dallas State Fair & Exposition as a private corporation on January 30, 1886. It features hundreds of shows with music, live performances, agricultural events, a carnival, Texas cuisine, exhibitions, sports, and most importantly, Texas Pride.

What Are the Dates for the Texas State Fair 2023?

This year, the State Fair of Texas opens Friday, September 29, 2023, and runs through Sunday, October 22, 2023. During WWI and WWII, and again in 2020, the Texas State Fair did not happen. Other than those dates, the Texas State Fair has opened on the same property it sits on today every year.

Which Is the Biggest State Fair in the USA?

The State Fair of Texas has the highest attendance of all the state fairs in the U.S. Fair Park lies in old East Dallas, adorned with a dynamic mix of architecturally-styled buildings. Fair Park is more than a host three-weeks a year to a world-renowned state fair. Its exhibit halls, music halls, monthly events, museums, parks, and eclectic programs are open year-round.

The State Fair of Texas is the biggest state fair in the USA. It hosts over 2.5 million fairgoers a year. It covers 227-acres in old East Dallas. Fair Park is a Dallas and Texas treasure. At the main entrance, magnificent Art Déco style buildings and a large reflecting pool greet you. 

When the Fair is on, Big Tex is also there to welcome you with his booming voice. Big Tex stands 55-feet tall. Dickies® is responsible for his wardrobe. He gets new clothes every few years. Big Tex has hosted the Fair since 1952, but he came from his last occupation as the world’s largest Santa Claus as Corsicana, Texas’ Santa Claus icon in 1949. 

Fair Park is just south of downtown Dallas, Texas

Where Is the State Fair of Texas 2023?

William Gaston, one of the businessmen the Texas State Fair can trace its roots back to, began promoting development in the Fair Park area in 1872. This “suburb” of Dallas incorporated as the City of East Dallas in 1882 and supported two major railway lines. Dallas annexed East Dallas in 1890, which made Dallas the largest city in Texas at the time. 

The official address of the Texas State Fair is 3809 Grand Avenue, Dallas, Texas, 75210. What Dallasites call the “Mixmaster” loops around downtown Dallas and comprises several major interstates and highways. We will explain this system and how to get to Fair Park.  

Fair Park sits in the southeast quadrant of the intersection of I-45 and I-30 east of the Mixmaster. A loop of highways encircles downtown Dallas. I-30 forms the southern part of the Mixmaster, I-45 south of I-30, which is I-75 north of I-30 (but same highway) takes care of its eastern border, I-35E runs down the western side of downtown, and Woodall Rodgers Freeway/TX SH 366 is the northern border of downtown Dallas.

How to Get There

No matter where you are driving in from outside of Dallas, you have to take one of those highways to get to downtown Dallas or to the eastern area of downtown Dallas, where Fair Park lies. With A GPS, you probably won’t get lost. However, the Mixmaster does not allow for long on and off ramps. 

It is a super fast entrance/exit on and off Dallas downtown ramps. If you are unfamiliar with the entrances/exits and how fast they come up, you can easily end up on another highway headed the opposite way lost with a long turnaround time. Or, you can end up hopelessly lost in the matrix of downtown Dallas. It is advised to study the Mixmaster on a map and use your GPS. 

The main entrance to Fair Park is Gate 5. You will know that you are near Fair Park if you end up on South Fitzhugh Avenue, Haskell Avenue, Parry Avenue, or SH 360, which encompass Fair Park. You will exit off of I-30. If you are running eastbound on I-30, you exit at Second Street. If you are headed westbound, you exit at First Street. You follow those streets to Parry Street and go left. 

Parry Street curves southeast into SH 360/Robert B. Cullum for a short jaunt to Al Lipscomb Way, where you can see the Gate 5 entrance. For other parking options and gate entrances to Fair Park during the Fair, see the parking section below. Once you are inside the fairgrounds, get a map of them. Fair maps are available everywhere. 

Do You Need Cash to Park at Texas State Fair?

Parking at the State Fair of Texas is always a hassle, and it is always crowded. Traffic is unusually heavy on Fair days for the whole Fair Park area. There are official and “unofficial” parking places located around the park. The area around the park is slow most of the year and residential with small businesses. Handicapped parking is only available at official Fair parking lots. 

Cash or debit/credit card payment is due at the entrance gate upon entry unless you have pre-paid for your space online. State Fair parking is $20 per space at its official State Fair of Texas parking lots. Premium parking is available for $40. Parking attendants will direct you to your designated parking space. 

Parking spaces are available on a first come, first served basis without prepay. Adjacent spaces may not be reserved. Bicycle racks are inside Gates 5, 6, and 11, on a first come, first serve basis. All State Fair parking is well lit and located near pedestrian gates.

Private property owners of homes and small businesses offer parking, but you have no security and no guarantee that your vehicle will be in the same condition you left it in. You may have to walk quite a distance, plus it depends on the property owner what you pay. But they have signs. Fair parking is a yearly income boost for these entrepreneurs. 

Does the Texas State Fair Have Rides?

Oh My Goodness! The Texas State Fair features a world-class carnival with old-timey carnival favorites like a fairy tale merry-go-round and a gigantic Ferris wheel called the Midway. But the Midway also boasts thrilling, modern rides, cotton candy, and cornydogs, along with all the carnival game barkers (the Texas State Fair barkers are quite difficult to resist). 

Yes, the Texas State Fair sports bookoos of rides, plus all the other carnival accouterments. The State Fair of Texas landed the #1 Spot on Carnival Warehouse’s 2022 Top Fairs and Carnivals List. As a witness over many years, the rides and carnival at the Texas State Fair consistently were and are always amazingly superior to any other carnival. 

Is There Alcohol at the Texas State Fair?

What kind of alcohol do you want? It’s Texas, and Texas loves beer and margaritas, where margaritas were invented! Most of the concessions serve beer, there is wine, and eateries sell mixed drinks. You can look around the park for lower priced beers, but concession stands are all over the Fair. 

Yes, you can order almost any kind of alcoholic beverage at the Texas State Fair. You can even walk around the Fair Park with your drink. You cannot take alcoholic beverages in or out of the park. Lots of patios filled with shade, music, and Fair food to die for offer places to enjoy your drinks. Mosey around with your drink or sit and enjoy!

How Much Do You Spend at the Texas State Fair?

This really depends on your budget. It is super easy to drop hundreds of dollars in just one day at the Texas State Fair. There are also ways to plan your trip for a budget-friendly trip. This is an age-old question for Okies and Texans who, for years and too many years gone by, and in every one of those years, began saving pennies and planning months in advance for their one day of the year at the Texas State Fair.

The State Fair of Texas offers several ways to pay your entrance fee. You pay for everything inside the Fair with tickets that you purchase at ticket kiosks scattered throughout the fairgrounds. The next information lists the entry fees to get into the Fair and offers a few ways for you to save your $$$ while attending the Fair. 

To get discounts online, visitors need to become a Big Tex Insider online. You will receive State Fair ticket and merchandise discount information in your email inbox, along with news and updates on all the events the State Fair of Texas hosts year-round. 

Daily Admission 

Choose the day you plan to attend in advance with the one-day (daily) admission ticket to the State Fair of Texas. Daily admission tickets are only valid for the date specified on the ticket and are not eligible for reschedule, refund, or transfer. All sales for daily admission tickets are final. Tickets are available online. 

Prices for daily admission tickets vary by the day of the week. Ticket prices start at $15 for adult tickets and $10 for child and senior tickets and $10 for adults and $5 for kids, respectively, on Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays through Sundays, tickets are $20 and $25 for adults and $10 and $18 for kids, respectively, depending on the events and performances happening that day. 

Premium 1-Day Admission

If you’re just planning on going one day, premium one-day admission tickets provide the flexibility to attend any day of the Fair and are $24.

Premium Admission 2-Pack Combo

Make it a great date with a premium one-day admission package that includes two (2) premium tickets and $50 in food and ride coupons are $98.

Premium Admission 4-Pack Combo

Take the whole family with a premium one-day admission package that includes four (4) premium tickets and $50 in food and ride coupons are $146.

Ways to Save at the Texas State Fair

A 2023 State Fair of Texas Season Pass includes:

  • 24-day admission to the 2023 State Fair of Texas.
  • One free single day “Bring-a-Friend” ticket valid Monday through Friday only. 
  • One free State Fair reusable bag while they last—limited quantities.
  • Buy one bucket, get one bucket free, at the Ring Toss game on the Midway.
  • One 10% off coupon for State Fair gear at official Fair merchandise stores during the State Fair. 

Group Ticket Discounts

You can add Food & Midway Coupons to your group ticket order and have your tickets and coupons delivered to your door. Group ticket discounts are valid with online advance purchase with FedEx shipping available through October 17 in 2023. Group orders that include coupons must be shipped to a verified business.. 

At the time of this writing, August 2023, online group tickets are $15 per person, August 1, through September 15, and $16 per person from September 16, to the end of the Fair, October 22. Please allow one business day for processing and two business days for shipping. For each year, advance group tickets online start cheaper the earlier you order them in four phases beginning in April. 

After 5 P.M. Discounts

Adults pay child’s prices at the State Fair of Texas after 5 p.m. You can save up to $7 on adult tickets when you arrive after 5 p.m. any day of the Fair. No promo codes are needed. The State Fair of Texas automatically applies this discount at the gate and online.

Value Days 

Value Days are every Tuesday and Thursday which are also Senior Citizen Days 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 these prices. 

Food & Midway Coupons

You can buy Food & Midway Coupons. Each coupon in this offer is valued at $1. As of 2023, fairgoers may use coupons for food, rides, and games. These coupons are $50 for 50 coupons, and you can buy them in groups of 50 online or at the gate. 

Who Is Performing at the Texas State Fair 2023?

There are so many shows, so many performers and so many genres! This question always gets Okies and Texans to research all the shows and performances in order to decide on the best day for them to attend the Fair. It is a really difficult decision for us state locals if we can attend the Fair one day only. The shows change daily, with the best ones happening Friday through Sunday. 

The best way to find out who and what is performing at the Fair, is to become a Big Tex Insider and keep checking the State Fair of Texas downloadable PDF schedule, which can change due to many reasons. The performance schedules can always change up until opening day and even after that. 

The Red River Showdown

The Red River Showdown, the annual college football game between the University of Texas (UT Longhorns) and the University of Oklahoma (OU Sooners) brings big crowds of Okies and Texans to the Cotton Bowl, where the Dallas Cowboys used to play in the 1960s. Visitors from outside of Oklahoma and Texas will surely witness the cultural difference between Oklahomans and Texans on Showdown Day.* 

2023’s big game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns happens on Saturday, October 7, 2023. The Fair will be crowded with locals that day. You will see cowboy hats, boots, and preppies all day long. There will be a lot of beer drinking, but these days, the behavior does not get out of hand due to strict security and rules. 

There is big rivalry this day every year, a lot of OK/TX jokes and insults about our rivalry spout about. The OK/TX rivalry stems from the early days of the first organized football days when teams from both states would hire massively-built football-playing mercenaries who were not students to play American football in the 1920s. The Red River Showdown day shows off both Oklahoma and Texas pride with gusto!

What Can I Bring to the Texas State Fair?

The Texas State Fair officials understand dietary restrictions of individuals. The Fair allows for people to bring food and non-alcoholic drinks to the Fair. Fair officials strive to protect the competitive vendors at the Fair who only have three weeks to show a profit after working strenuously day and night in order to bestow fairgoers with an unforgettable experience. 

If you have dietary restrictions or other reasons for wanting to bring your own food or beverages to the Fair, please do. The Fair prohibits alcohol, glass containers, and metal eating utensils. Fair officials will search your cooler or containers for contraband upon entering the fairgrounds. 

First Aid, Safety, and Is the State Fair of Texas ADA Accessible?

Vehicles must have a handicap hangtag on their rearview mirror or a handicap license plate to park in designated spaces. The owner of the handicap tag/plate must be the payee for parking. Parking attendants direct visitors to handicap parking spaces. These spaces can fill up quickly on Senior Citizen Days, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

Arrive early for these spots. Enter at Fitzhugh and Lagow Streets, then go on to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK Blvd.), Grand Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, or Coliseum. A few spots are available at the Pan Am gate, Gurley, and on Saturday and Sunday at the Haskell entrance. From the Haskell lots, visitors can ride the train to the entrance gate.

The State Fair of Texas offers wheelchairs and electric scooters for rent through Home Town Mobility. You can make reservations for wheelchairs and scooters at www.htmia.com or by calling 712-938-2029 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on weekends during the Fair. A valid driver’s license or state ID is required for all rentals.

You will need to make rental reservations 24-hours in advance. You must make cancellations 48-hours in advance to receive a full refund, or there is a $5 cancellation fee per rental unit. Rental locations are at the entrances of Parry Avenue, Grand Avenue, Gate 5, Pennsylvania Pedestrian Entrance, Gate 11, and Pan Am Gate, on the north side of the fairgrounds. 

Rental Prices:

  • Scooters: $65 per day from 8am to 10pm.
  • Wheelchairs: $25 per day.
  • Personal Storage Cubical: $5.
  • Single Strollers: $20 per day.
  • Double Stroller: $25 per day.
  • Wagons: $20 per day.

Chevrolet Main Stage Accessibility:

A designated area for fairgoers with disabilities is located at the left front stage area.

Cotton Bowl Accessibility:

Disabled fairgoers can gain access to the Cotton Bowl by using the Press Elevator located to the right of Gate A of the Cotton Bowl.

First Aid:

The Texas State Fair First Aid operates two locations. One is located at the Coliseum, and one is located at First Avenue adjacent to the Children’s Aquarium. In case of an emergency, please find and notify the nearest police officer, safety team member, or State Fair employee, who will dispatch a First Aid Unit to any location within the fairgrounds.

Baby Care Centers:

Check the Fair map for these locations. You can find a Baby Care Center next to the Children’s Aquarium, one in the Guest Relations Building on the Midway, and one near the Swine Barn and Backyard Steak-Out & Pizzeria. Electrical outlets are only available in the Baby Care Centers. All the women’s restrooms offer changing stations. 

Changing stations in the men’s restrooms are located in Cattle Barn #1, on both sides of the Coliseum, on Embarcadero, in the Midway, at the Perot Museum (east of the Aquarium), at First Street & MLK, and at MLK & Coliseum. An area is also available in the Oak Farms Children’s Activity Center. 

Safe Kids Corral:

If you lose your child, children you are responsible for, or you encounter a child looking for their parent or guardian, immediately report the missing child to the nearest police officer, safety team member, or information booth. Most of the time, children are quickly reunited with their parent(s)/guardian(s) at the Fair. 

If children need more time to locate their guardian, Fair officials will escort the child to the Fair’s Safe Kids Corral. It is located on the Midway, adjacent to the Top o’ Texas Tower and Neon Big Tex. Tex Team members manage the Safe Kids Corral and will look after children until they are reconnected with their patent(s)/guardian(s).

State Fair of Texas FAQ

For more information on everything you can and cannot do and bring, please read the State Fair of Texas FAQ.

Simon Trask
Author: Simon Trask

Simon loves Texas and the Great Outdoors. From East Texas pines to West Texas mountains, he calls North Texas home but is always ready to float a river in Hill Country or go fishing on the Gulf Coast. Simon loves camping and road trips as well, whether it's cruising Highway 287, 82, 69 or 281, that's the true way to see what Texas is all about!

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