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Your guide to the 2021 State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas is back, y'all! Here's everything you need to know.

DALLAS —


THE BASICS 

Let's face it. Last year wasn't great. The 2021 theme -- 'Howdy, Folks!' -- reflects the return from virtual gatherings to connecting in person again. It'll be like Zoom but with no mute button. 

The State Fair of Texas will open on Friday, Sept. 24, and will run through Sunday, Oct. 17. 

Gates open at 9 a.m. daily. Exhibit buildings, exhibits, and outdoor concessions will be open from:

  •  10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.
  •  10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Museum and midway hours vary.

Credit: State Fair of Texas
The theme for the 2021 State Fair of Texas is 'Howdy, Folks!'

HOW TO GET THERE

Sure, you could enter "Fair Park" into your phone or GPS and follow the directions but getting into (and out of) the fair is easiest by train. 

Click here to view the State Fair DART schedule or click here to view the TRE schedules. 

If you want to drive, that's cool too. Check out the link to the parking map:

Heads up, parking at the fair will cost you $20

HOW TO GET TICKETS

Daily tickets run from $15 - $24 depending on the level you want. If you're planning to attend the fair more than once, you may be interested in a season pass. Those can be had for $50 per person. 

If saving money is your thing, there are multiple ways to score discounts on tickets for the fair. Be on the lookout for:  

  • Dr. Pepper Value Days every Tuesday and Thursday
  • North Texas Food Bank: Feed the Need - bring 5 canned food items and receive admission for $5. 
  • Everyone pays the child price after 5 p.m.

There are tons of other ways to get discounts on State Fair tickets. For complete details on how to get your tickets and all the ways you can save on them, click the links below. 

WHAT TO SEE

The State Fair of Texas is more than just the food! There are tons of things to see and do while you munch on your favorite fair food.

For instance...

Football at the Cotton Bowl Stadium 

The State Fair Classic on Sept. 25 will feature the annual matchup between Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M. 

On Oct. 9, the Red River Showdown will take place between the University of Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Weekend rodeo events 

The rodeo is coming back to the State Fair of Texas and is free with your fair admission. It will take place on weekend evenings. 

Rodeo schedule: 

  • Cowboys of Color Rodeo, Sept. 24-25
  • Mexican Rodeo Celebration, Sept. 26
  • State Fair of Texas Youth Rodeo, Sept. 29
  • United Professional Rodeo Association Texas Finals, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2
  • Bull Buckin' Weekend, Oct. 8-9
  • State Fair of Texas Ranch Rodeo, Oct. 15-16
  • RODEO DETAILS

Other attractions and events

  • The Country Roundup will feature animatronic and manual puppetry on the midway; Fiestas de Marionetas will have daily performances at the McDonald's Amphitheater
  • A brand-new ride: Moonraker
  • An exhibit celebrating the fair's 135-year history in the Hall of State
  • A Dia de los Muertos experience at Mundo Latino
  • Nightly fireworks displays and performances at the reflecting pool 
  • Nightly Starlight Parade featuring floats, life-size puppets and performers

Check out a full list of attractions here.

Rides, rides, rides!

Rides are always a popular attraction at the State Fair of Texas. Take a 360-degree ride up the Top O' Texas Tower (try it with a Google Cardboard compatible viewer for the best experience.)

LIVE MUSIC LINEUP

The 2021 fair will include a lineup of free live music, including 77 different artists and groups ranging across a variety of genres. 

Texas-born Clay Walker will kick off the concert series on Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m. The following day, as part of the State Fair Classic football game, Dru Hill will perform at 2 p.m. and Black Pumas from Austin will perform at 8:30 p.m.

La Energia Nortena will round out opening weekend Sunday, Sept. 26 at 8:30 p.m. A full list of performances is below: 

Main Stage Lineup 

Friday, September 24 

  • Clay Walker, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 25 

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • Dru Hill, 2:00 p.m.
  • Black Pumas, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 26

  • Conjunto DIFERENTES De Zacatecas, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • La Energia Norteña, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, September 27

  • Rob Roy Parnell, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 28

  • Rathmore, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 29

  • The 40 Acre Mule, 4:00; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 30

  • Little Joe y La Familia, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 1

  • Summer Dean, 5:30 p.m.
  • Shinyribs, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 2

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • Eleven Hundred Springs, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • Kevin Fowler, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 3

  • Chevy House Party, 12 p.m.
  • Clay Melton, 2 p.m.; 4 p.m.; 6 p.m.
  • Grand Funk Railroad, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, October 4

  • Retrophonics, 4 p.m.; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 5

  • The Imaginaries, 4 p.m.; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6

  • Squeezebox Bandits, 4 p.m.; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 7

  • Brave Combo, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 8

  • Mike and the Moonpies, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 9

  • Hannah Kirby, 2:30 p.m.; other showtimes pending game time
  • Jack Ingram, 6 p.m.
  • Bill Engvall, 8:20 p.m.

Sunday, October 10

  • Chevy House Party, 12:00 p.m.
  • No Rehearsal, 2:00; 4:00; 6:00 p.m.
  • Sugar Ray, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, October 11

  • Trevor Douglas, 12 p.m.; 1:30 p.m.
  • Le Freak, 3 p.m.; 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 12

  • Ron Lawrence and Sazerac Jazz, 4 p.m.; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 13

  • U.S. Marine Jazz Ensemble, 4 p.m.; 5:45; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 14

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 15

  • Kraig Parker, 5:30; 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 16

  • Chevy House Party, 12 p.m.
  • The Peterson Brothers, 2 p.m.; 4 p.m.; 6 p.m.
  • Charley Crockett, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 17

  • The Powell Brothers, 12:00; 1:30 p.m.
  • The Last Bandoleros, 3 p.m.

Check out the lineups for other stages at the State Fair.

WHAT TO EAT 

Your first stop when you get to the fair should always be Fletcher's Corny Dogs. After that you can take your obligatory selfie with Big Tex and go on your merry way, trying all the new fried food you can manage without falling over.

There are literally hundreds of amazing foods to discover at the State Fair. However, if you have never been, or just want a good starting point, check out all the Big Tex Choice Award winners and finalists. 

Credit: State Fair of Texas
Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls

If you want full details on all the food and drink in the fair click the link below

RELATED: The best of the deep-fried best, The Big Tex Choice Awards winners, are announced