We just got back from the State Fair of Texas from San Antonio and there’s so much to see, do, eat, and explore! Prepare yourselves for an adventure like no other – mouth-watering fair food, thrilling rides, and exciting exhibits await. Get ready to have some big fun in Big D!
Pack your bags and prepare your appetite for a fun-filled adventure from San Antonio to the State Fair of Texas! On this exciting journey, you’ll be able to indulge in all the sugary treats the fair has to offer. From deep-fried Oreos to cotton candy, you’re sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. Or if you’d rather try something savory, you can get a taste of some Texas classics like BBQ brisket sandwiches or chicken-on-a-stick.
And don’t forget about the thrilling attractions at the State Fair of Texas! While you’re there, take a spin on some classic carnival rides such as the swings or bumper cars. Or get up close and personal with some farm animals in the famous petting zoo. Prepare yourself for a day full of nonstop excitement!
It’s taken me more than a week to write this story because it’s taken that long to recover from just one day at the Texas State Fair. But between the rain, the food, and the Midway, the State Fair gets two thumbs up from this first-timer and her kids.
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I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much fried food in my life. Can we start with the shortlist? Fried Twinkies, fried salsa, fried bacon, fried Kool-Aid, fried Coke, fried pizza, fried pork chops, fried watermelon, fried peach cobbler, fried tamales, fried bubble gum, fried cheese, fried cheesecake, fried squash, fried beer, fried fish, fried shrimp, fried biscuits and gravy, fried Frito pie, fried margaritas, fried banana splits, fried Snickers, fried Oreos, fried green tomatoes, fried mashed potatoes, fried butter, and chicken fried bacon. That’s just the beginning….and no, I did not taste it all. I can, however, attest to the fact that fried Twinkies are nothing to write home about and fried bubblegum (actually fried giant marshmallows) are nasty.
A fun food moment was meeting San Antonian Lupita Valerio who runs the gordita stand at the Fair. She’s been packing up and heading to Dallas for the last 18 years. Her stand was packed with customers, many of them Fair employees. “They come here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” she told me. “I make them menudo, caldo, mole…special for them so they don’t get tired of the same food day after day.” In 1997, she was invited to the White House to meet Mrs. Clinton…totally unrelated to the Fair, but we just had so much fun talking, she told me all kinds of interesting little facts. That’s one of the beautiful things I learned about the Fair…the opportunity to meet many interesting and surprising people if you take the time.
I’m not sure I knew what to expect, but the Midway was far bigger than I imagined. Because I’m not big on rides that make your head fly into your stomach and your stomach into your head, it was great to see options like the fun houses (harder to get through than you think) and the sky ride (for a great birds’ eye view). The haunted house was not scary, and the kids loved the roller coasters, the giant slides, and even the old-fashioned spinning room where the floor drops out from under you. But everyone’s all-time favorite was the hang-gliding ride. Lie down, strap yourself in, the ride takes off, and you’d swear you were flying.
And the side shows – don’t forget the sideshows. They are alive and well. In fact, they shout it to you from the loudspeaker. “A six-legged turtle, Alive! A two-headed rattler, Alive! Only four coupons.” We skipped the animals, but couldn’t resist seeing the world’s smallest horse, only six inches at birth, nestled way down in a basement of hay. Only one coupon to see…your standard, miniature horse. Shoulda known.
We skipped much of the stage entertainment but did stop by to see the Chinese acrobats until it started sprinkling, took a run through the exhibit hall, and spent quite a bit of time snapping photos of the four-horned goats, kangaroos, and camels in the petting zoo. But the one show I was not going to miss was the pig races. You can’t go to a state fair and not see the pig races. They were absolutely every bit as cheesy and wonderful as I hoped they’d be.
If You Go
It’s anyone’s bet whether you’ll end up standing in line for hours or not. We were told it was going to be a crazy day, but it was cloudy and sprinkling rain. Upside: no lines. Downside: you go through rides fast and that gets costly. All told, once we were inside the gates, we spent, on average, about $100 per person on rides and food.
You can save a little by getting discount coupons at the local McDonald’s or pre-buying your tickets online. There are also a few coupons in the program which is available at the fair and as a smartphone app. If you’re on Twitter, follow the hashtag #statefairofTexas where some businesses occasionally give away tickets.
Eat before you leave so you don’t get caught up in the fried food frenzy. Your stomach will thank me for this. If you don’t mind carrying it in your purse, I think I’d try to carry in a couple of bottles of water, just to have it handy.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring bandages for blisters. Also, take some quarters. Throughout the park are these awesome little foot massagers that really work.
Take the DART or valet your car. I guarantee you won’t want to walk all the way back to your car after a day of walking the Fair.
If it looks cloudy, carry in a rain poncho or two. We saw cheap plastic ponchos at the Fair being sold for $10 each. Can you say highway robbery?
Visit the State Fair website before you go. Lots of great information. You can also download the brochure to your smartphone before you go.