DALLAS – The opening day of the 2016 State Fair of Texas was filled with a lot of entertainment and surprises.

Dallas Police Department was honored with the inaugural Pride of Texas Award during the opening ceremony.

Thousands of people showed up for the fair’s opening day. They wanted to experience the sights and sounds that will be taking over South Dallas over the next three weeks.

”It is a long 24 days for us,” said cotton candy vendor Tammie Gentry.

Gentry and her son Tyler know the scene well.

Gentry said, “This is my 27th year out here.”

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Their family travels all the way from Palestine to Dallas, each year, just to be a part of the fair fun.

“There’s so many different crowds of people, so many different families,” Gentry explained. “You see pretty much everything in the 3 and a half weeks that we are here.”

The State Fair of Texas is like one stop shopping for everything Texas.

“Everything is big,” said Diane Perry.

She and her family are making big memories. They are visiting from the east coast spending time with relatives.

“He told us if we ever came down, and we was here this time of the year, this would be a very good event,” Perry explained.

The State Fair of Texas is a celebration.

It is a celebration of things including deep fried Texas cuisine, to agriculture, and to education.

“I like it,” said Blanca Salas. “We come every year.”

The opening night ceremony included a special tribute to veterans. Men and women who served in military conflicts were honored for Military Appreciation Day.

”It’s a once a year kind of thing, and it’s fun,” said Gentry. “There is literally something here for every person. Every age group.”

A 17 minute fireworks show was part of the opening day spectacle at the State Fair of Texas.

Thousands of people are expected to pack the Cotton Bowl Saturday afternoon. Prairie View and Grambling State will take the field in their annual State Fair of Texas game.