Celebrate all things Texan at the State Fair of Texas

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The State Fair of Texas, which will take center stage at Fair Park in Dallas, started out big.

The modern state fair is actually the result of a long-ago merger of two separate events, the Texas State Fair & Exposition and the Dallas State Fair. Even in the late 1800s, both events drew huge crowds – in excess of 100,000. Since its inception, the fair has boasted some of the biggest headliners of the era, such as composer John Philip Sousa, temperance activist Carrie Nation and author/orator Booker T. Washington. Over the years, crowds increased, as did the number and variety of celebrities showcased at the fair – including Presidents William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson.

The fair took a hiatus during World War II, but returned in 1949 with attendance of 2 million people. During the ’50s, the fair received visits from Elvis Presley and then-Vice President Richard Nixon, as well as the beloved fair icon “Big Tex” – a 52-foot cowboy – which was erected in the center of the fairgrounds.

Today, the State Fair of Texas offers something for everyone, from exhibits and live music to traditional Texas foods, carnival rides and games, livestock and arts competitions, shows and shopping. Try some of the Big Tex Choice Award-winning fried foods like this year’s winner, Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil, or infamous past winners like Fried Coke. This year, nearly 90 performances will take place during the 24 days of the fair, and will feature stars such as “The Voice” finalists the Swon Brothers, “American Idol” winner Fantasia, Grammy winners Kool & the Gang, and many more. Parades and laser shows will take place daily, there will be chili and barbecue cook offs, and even a fall garden show. The fair wraps up on Oct. 19.

Many area hotels will offer special packages and rates, so why not pack up the car and head out to this amazing celebration of all things Texan? Tickets are $17 for adult general admission, $13 for seniors 60 and older and for kids. Admission is free for children younger than two and for seniors every Thursday. Visit www.bigtex.com to learn more.