DALLAS — Celebrating 131 years of tradition in the fall, the State Fair of Texas returns for another season of food, festivities, and family fun.
Themed “Celebrating Texans,” this year’s exposition kicks off on Friday, Sept. 29 in historic Fair Park. Adding on to its annual offering of more than 100 daily performances included with admission, 70 Midway rides, enough Midway games to keep you entertained for hours, and endless activities across the fairgrounds, the State Fair has also announced several new attractions lined up for the 2017 event.
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 the 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.
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.
The urban farm is composed entirely of mobile planting beds, all of which can be easily transported to other locations when space is needed for the Fair’s annual exposition.
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.
As a nod to the Fair’s agricultural roots, “Agriculture in Texas” will serve as the new exhibit in the Science Place building. One section of the exhibit will highlight innovations in urban agriculture, featuring a portion of the planters from Big Tex Urban Farms as well as a smaller-scale version of the hydroponic system that can be found in the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway.
In collaboration with engineering students from the Hunt Institute at SMU, the Fair is hosting “Evie,” a trailer-turned-mobile greenhouse that will serve as another feature of the new exhibit. The other section of “Agriculture in Texas” will spotlight organizations in the North Texas area working to combat hunger through community gardens and urban farming.
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.
State Fair foodies can look forward to a few new food locales hitting the grounds this fall.
Gulf Coast Grill brings another destination to relax between activities or grab a bite to eat, located next to the Leonhardt Lagoon across from Cotton Bowl Plaza. The island-style grill rounds out the Fair’s restaurant lineup with a tropical flair, and will also feature live music from local artists on weekends. Stiffler’s Mom’s Cookie Factory will be serving up gourmet chocolate chip cookies and milk by the masses.
Debuting on the Midway this year, the factory showcases two observation windows and boasts the ability to bake 800 cookies every 11 minutes. Fairgoers can order cookies by the bucket or in a bag of six, and then watch the baking process from start to finish.
A new Cotton Candy Stand location will be housed in the very center of the Tower Building, showcasing how cotton candy is made. Joining a wide variety of neighboring cuisine options, the new stand’s colorful façade and sweet appeal will brighten up the State Fair’s food headquarters.
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.
Season Passes are available now at BigTex.com/seasonpass for only $29.99 with promotional code “statefairSP10.” This limited-time discount will save you $10, with the regular price set at $39.99. The promotion ends June 30.