What’s the best age for appreciating the State Fair of Texas? That’s a tricky one.
If you’re too old, the potential seasonal unseasonable heat combined with the most decadent fried foods found anywhere may require a post-fair doctor’s visit. Don’t ask me about last year.
And if you’re too young, you might make my boyhood mistake of comparing it to Six Flags.
I recall lamenting that the fair wasn’t like Arlington, where you could ride all the rides you wanted, at least if you met the height requirements.
At Fair Park, Dad typically made us save the Midway until the end when our time and tickets ran out much too quickly. One year, my first ride got stuck, and my time ran out before the tickets did.
Despite my disappointment, Dad was likely onto something.
Those who know the fair the best put the Midway in similar proper perspective.
Gina Norris, a Midwest dairy farmer’s daughter and banker, has volunteered with the fair since 2003, served on its board of directors since 2009, and was the first woman to chair its board (2019-2022).
“I used to tell my kids, ‘OK, one ride, one game, then we’re going to see the free State Fair of Texas, and I still highly recommend that,” Gina Norris told members of the Rotary Club of Park Cities in September.
Don’t misinterpret her advice. She values what the Midway means to the fair and boasts about how Texas-sized it is: 74 rides and 69 games this year. The fair, on average, earns 25% on food, beverage, and rides – millions of dollars that go into scholarships and get reinvested in Dallas.
But there is so much else to enjoy that’s included with the price of admission:
Music – Three stages, 85 acts, 77 of them Texan
Agricultural exhibits – See “the biggest cucumbers you can imagine” in the greenhouse near the Midway or watch farm animals give birth in the livestock birthing barn north of the Cotton Bowl.
Family fun – Check out 10 life-sized Texas dinosaurs on display at the lagoon and a snowman dancing across a tightrope during the Soap Bubble Circus in the Oak Farms Theater.
The State Fair, “it’s tradition,” Norris said. “It’s family. It’s community.”
See you there.