The myth, the man, the legend is back. It’s Big Tex y’all, and with him comes the greatest state fair in all of these United States: The  131st State Fair of Texas. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Texans” and kicks off on Friday, September 29.

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Photo by Cori Baker

Bigger and better than ever, this year you can’t miss out on the fair and we’ve got the Top 10 reasons why:

10. Brush up on your history!

“Recognizing this year as the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, two commemorative exhibits will be open to guests throughout the run of the Fair. Featured at the Hall of State, “Texas in the First World War” provides an in-depth look into Lone Star State history, exploring the active roles that both Texas and the United States played throughout the pivotal war era.

“Displaying a collection of wartime memorabilia and vehicles such as a Model T ambulance and a 1917 Indian motorcycle, the exhibit also incorporates details of the significant “Punitive Expedition” and the operation’s influences leading up to America’s involvement in WWI.

“Another memorial exhibit featured at the D.A.R. House this year, “America and World War I,” showcases a variety of original artifacts ranging from personal items to weaponry gathered from all participating nations during the Great War.

“In addition to hosting “Texas in the First World War” during this year’s exposition, the Hall of State presents “Drawing Power: The Editorial Art of John Knott.” The exhibit pays tribute to respected cartoonist, John Knott, whose artwork amassed to more than 15,000 pieces throughout his 52-year history working for The Dallas Morning News. With a portfolio of drawings that encompasses every possible aspect of the public’s interest throughout the years, the featured display includes topics of his work that still relate to today’s modern audiences.”

9.  Big Tex Urban Farms comes to fruition 

“In 2016 the State Fair of Texas introduced Big Tex Urban Farms, a revolutionary urban garden system in the heart of Fair Park. In alignment with the Fair’s mission of promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement, Big Tex Urban Farms serves as an outdoor learning space while providing fresh, organic produce to the surrounding communities.

“Starting out with 100 planters in 2016, the farm has grown to 520 planters in 2017. During this year’s Fair some of the planters will be housed in the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway, where guests can see how the newest crops are doing.

“Fairgoers can also check out the new hydroponic system inside the greenhouse, a deep water culture tank with the capability of producing 25,000 plants per year. The Fair will continue to donate all Big Tex Urban Farms produce to Fair Park-area organizations, and with these new additions will be able to grow its partnerships and expand its initiatives even more.”

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8.  Corn dogs and a show

“The action-packed Xpogo show will be moving to an all-new location this year. The extreme sports show features pogo professionals showing off their skills with gravity-defying tricks, flips, and spins. Guests can catch a daily Xpogo performance in Chevrolet Park Plaza.

“The plaza also hosts the Lords of Gravity Basketball Slam Dunk Show. Returning for its second year at the Fair, the Lords of Gravity group hails from Budapest, Hungary and has become one of the most well-known acrobatic basketball teams in Europe.

“Captivating crowds of all ages with mind-blowing magic tricks and illusions, World of Magic will be another new attraction this year. Located at Oak Farms Showplace Theatre in the Creative Arts building, the magic show features a performance by award-winning illusionists and even a floating robot.

“Fairgoers can also visit the theatre to find Backyard Circus at its new location, which offers little ones the chance to dress up in costumes and take part in a show starring lion tamers, tight-rope walkers, ballerinas and a host of circus favorites.”

7.  Snakes, and flowers, and butterflies — Oh my!

“The Texas Discovery Gardens will host a variety of ornate floral arrangements from the Ikebana International Dallas Chapter – Ikebana is the Japanese art of arranging flowers.

Returning exhibits include the “Snakes of Texas,” bringing native reptiles of all shapes and sizes, along with the “Honeybee Tree” exhibit in the Butterfly House, giving visitors the chance to see a live honeybee hive in action.”

Make sure to see the butterflies and butterfly releases outside of the gardens.

6.  Thrifty Thursday!!

Thrifty Thursdays are back! Special food pricing is available every Thursday of the State Fair of Texas – October 5, 12, & 19, 2017.

“Featured items include State Fair classics like corny dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes and participating food vendors also offer one of their signature menu items, ranging from mini versions to regular-size items.

“This is perfect for the foodie enthusiast, thrifty families or any fairgoer who loves State Fair of Texas food.”

5. Football at the historic Cotton Bowl stadium

Sports fans can prepare for another round of football games inside the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium during the 2017 Fair. Returning on October 7, the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic brings its annual matchup between Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M University. The rivalry continues October 14 when Cotton Bowl Stadium hosts the AT&T Red River Showdown, where the University of Texas Longhorns face the University of Oklahoma Sooners. (Hook ’em horns!)

4. The Starlight Parade at the Hall of State

“This after-dark extravaganza is a fan favorite, featuring a colorful assortment of illuminated floats, life-size puppets, stilt-walking performers and animated characters in ornate costumes. The bold
and bright procession glides through the park nightly at 7:15 p.m. You won’t want to leave the Fair without seeing this amazing spectacle!”

3. Taste wines and beers from the Lone Star State

“Featuring more than 40 Texas wineries over the course of the Fair, there is always a new vintage to try at the State Fair Wine Garden, presented by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Each day, fair attendees over the age of 21 can sample three to four wines from featured Texas wineries. Samples may be purchased by the taste, the glass or the bottle.

“The Magnolia Beer Garden is a destination for the discriminating beer connoisseur at the State Fair of Texas.  With a selection of Texas, craft and international beers, there is something to please every taste. Located in the courtyard of the historic Magnolia Lounge, the beer garden is a great place to sit and relax under a canopy of trees on a sunny afternoon or get a table on the balcony and watch the nightly Starlight Parade.

“The garden is open from Friday through Monday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 9  p.m.

2. See a variety animals up close and personal

The Children’s Health Barnyard is a classic staple of the state fair.  “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 and visit the nursery where sows, ewes, nanny goats and their young are on display.”

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There’s plenty of award-winning livestock to see too! From the Livestock 101 Stage, to guided tours. “At the State Fair livestock barns you can test your livestock terminology and check out more than 15 different breeds of cattle, along with an assortment of  sheep, rabbits, llamas and more. 16 daily guided tours every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, departing from the Champions Row area in Ag-Power Plaza.”

1. The number one reason to visit the fair: FOOD!

This year tantalize your senses with the Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger and wash it down with a Gulf Coast Fish Bowl. Other 2017 finalists include: Deep Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick; Deep Fried Froot Loops; Pinot Noir Popcorn; The Tamale Donut; Fried Texas Sheet Cake; and so much more.

Of course, everyone knows the best fair food is Fletcher’s Corny Dogs.

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Check out the other 2017 food winners here.

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