Why the Allure of Texas's State Fair Will Never Die
The state fair defines the autumn season in Texas. On the grounds of Fair Park you can milk a cow, eat a deep fried carrot cake, play carnival games until you win a life-size unicorn, and ride the largest Ferris wheel in the United States.
On October 18 the State Fair of Texas closed its gates for the 129th year. It was the most popular in its history; ticket sales were up 10 million from last year. So how does something as old school as a state fair keep drawing in the masses? A combination of deep-seated nostalgia, community pride, and, well, corn dogs.
Mariah Tyler is a digital photo editor at Travel+Leisure. You can follow her on Instagram at @mphbox.
Fairgoers, from cowboys to urban dwellers, hail from all corners of the state. Pictured: the esplanade, which hosts a sensational light show nightly.
Proceeds from coupon sales contribute to the improvements and upkeep of the historic Fair Park. Many of the structures are Art Deco gems.
Texas craftsmen haul their goods to sell.
The Future Farmers of America bring their best lot to be judged in the Swine Barn.
Texas State Fair officials judge the best-sheared sheep in the state.
Up for tasting: wine grown in the Lone Star State.
The spirit of Texas is everywhere.
The Texas Skyway, a gondola ride that takes you above and through the Midway, offers a view of downtown Dallas and the Texas Star Ferris Wheel.
All About Corn Dogs
If it’s not a Fletcher’s corn dog, it’s the wrong corn dog.
Arguably the most beloved fair offering is the array of deep-fried food creations. Pictured: a 2014 Big Tex Award Finalist, dubbed Fried Sweet Texas. Within this funnel cake pocket is a heavenly mix of pecan and apple pie.
The sun begins to set as people linger for dinner near the Midway.
Hall of State
At the Hall of State: an exhibit of the great musicians that have hailed from the Lone Star State, including country stars and unexpected born Texans like Usher and Nelly.
It wouldn’t be a state fair without a carousel.
Once the sun sets, the crowds flock to the Midway for carnival rides.
The Midway is the most popular section of the fair. Think of it as Texas’s Coney Island: bright lights, cheap thrills, and funnel cakes. It’s also pretty much the perfect place to find love.