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Rodeos, Rides, and Revelry: Your Ultimate Guide to the Texas State Fair

You’d be hard-pressed to find an attraction more synonymous with the Lone Star State than the State Fair of Texas, held in south Dallas during the fall for the last 137 years. While many fairs occur in rural areas, ours is in the heart of Dallas, merging classic Texas cowboy culture with the vibrant downtown cityscape. 

There’s the legendary rodeo, of course, but also so much more, like non-stop live music, entertaining games along the historic Midway, family-friendly shows, unique and delicious fair food, and rides like the iconic 200-foot-plus high Texas Star Ferris wheel. 

No other hotels near the Texas State Fair are as convenient as our Dallas bed and breakfast – you can stay in luxury and comfort in one of our five bespoke suites, with an added special 15% discount on Sundays through Thursdays while being less than 2 miles away from the never-ending fun at the fair!

Enjoy the wheel of fortune at the Texas State Fair

When Is the State Fair of Texas?

Since its inception in 1886, the fair has been held annually in early fall, after the hottest summer days are winding down (although there can still be plentiful sunshine in September, so wear sunscreen and bring your cowboy hat!). The fair kicks off in 2023 with opening weekend on Friday, September 29th, and runs through closing day on Sunday, October 22nd. This 24-day stretch includes four full weekends, generally the most-attended days, while weekdays are a great option to avoid the biggest crowds and lines.

How Do I Get to the Texas State Fair?

From our location in Old East Dallas, you’ll be less than 2 miles from the front door of your Dallas bed and breakfast to the fair’s main gate. We’re proud not just to be one of the only hotels near the Texas State Fair – we’re so close that you can practically see Big Tex, the iconic cowboy mascot of the fair, wearing his Dickies shirt and cowboy hat, standing tall at over 50 feet. 

While it is only a short walk from the Gaston, we strongly recommend taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft. Another option is to take your car. If you choose to drive, a pass to park in their lots runs $20 per day. 

What Are the Hours and How Much Is the State Fair of Texas?

The fair opens the barn doors, so to speak, every day at 9 a.m., but the main rides and exhibits begin at 10 a.m. Festivities wind down at 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, while Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays go until 10 p.m. Depending on the day you visit, admission in 2023 costs $15-25 for adults, $10-18 for children ages 3-12, and kids two and younger are free. An insider tip is the season pass, which allows you to attend as many days as you’d like during the 2023 fair session for the price of two regular weekend days. So, if you plan to attend for two days or more – the fair is so massive that you can go several days and still not see everything – opt for the season pass (which also includes perks like a free official state fair reusable bag). Once in the fair, you’ll need coupons for food, rides, and games. Each is worth $1 and never expires, so if you still have some leftovers from past visits, they’re still good!

When Can I See a Rodeo?

There are four weekends throughout the 2023 State Fair of Texas schedule, and every weekend features different rodeos “as diverse as Texas.” The Big Tex Rodeo Series takes center stage at the Fair Park Coliseum (the location of all rodeos and free with fair admission) during the opening two days of the season (Sept 29 and 30), while the Mexican Rodeo Fiesta closes out the opening weekend on Oct 1st, an ode to traditional Mexican charro-style rodeo-riding. Later weekends include the Youth Rodeo on Oct 8th, when you can see the best of the up-and-coming bull riders and steer wrestlers, and the Cowboys of Color on Oct 13th and 14th, which honors the rodeo’s multicultural roots.

Is the Texas State Fair Family-Friendly?

Everyone in the family will love the rows and rows of games and 70+ rides along the Midway, the main artery of fun in the center of the fairgrounds. The fair’s theme for 2023 is “Explore the Midway,” so this main strip will be extra-exciting this year, with even more games and attractions than usual. The “Kidway” area along the Midway is perfect for children younger than five, with kid-appropriate rides for “fun-sized fairgoers.” Kids will also love the petting zoo at the Pan Am Arena, where they can feed baby goats and pet zebras. And don’t miss the kid-friendly shows all afternoon at the Fringe Stage, which range from a Soap Bubble Show (more impressive than it sounds – they make a volcano erupt out of bubbles) to the Street Circus, featuring acrobatics mixed in with comedic interludes.

Is There Live Music at the State Fair of Texas?

Live music has always been the soundtrack of the fair, with three different live stages providing free performances (included with fair admission) of every genre and musical style imaginable. The Bud Light Stage, near the Cotton Bowl Plaza, has shows daily at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7:30 p.m., showcasing artists ranging from brass bands and country singer-songwriters to all-female mariachi and DJs. The Yuengling Flight Stage anchors the beer and wine garden, a great place to chill in the shade, sip a refreshing beverage, and watch folk duos, jazz groups, lounge singers, and comedy groups perform. The Chevrolet Main Stage, meanwhile, brings nationally touring acts every weekend, with a packed lineup of musical hitmakers like Ceelo Green on September 30, Lil Jon on October 7, and Shane Smith & the Saints on October 15.

Corn dogs and more at the Texas Fair Stands.

What About the Fair Food, Drinks, Parade, and Fireworks?

A day at the fair wouldn’t be complete without biting into a corn dog, funnel cake, or other timeless treats readily available from food vendors throughout the fairgrounds. In addition to these fair favorites, you’ll find inventive twists like deep-fried gumbo balls, bourbon banana caramel sopapillas, and any version of BBQ you can imagine (we’re in Texas, after all). The wine garden has 22 wines available by the pour, several from award-winning Texas wineries. For a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink, don’t miss the Trail-Ade – a delightful mix of lemonade, cucumber, and mint. 

Plan to stay until the evening hours, when the heat trails off and the Starlight Parade winds through the fair at 7:15 p.m. with visually stunning floats, life-sized puppets, and neon lights. After the parade, close it all out at the Illumination Sensation with dancing, fireworks, and pyrotechnics over the water on the Esplanade, lighting up the Texas night sky after a memorable day at the fair.

Stay with us and discover the unique fun, cultural roots, delicious eats, rodeo thrills, and endless entertainment of the Texas State Fair!

 

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Kevin
Kevin
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The Gaston is one of the most unique and comfortable places you'll ever stay! With its sleek and elegant features, there is no touch forgotten. Modern meets old in this refurbished and renovated early 20th century home the near downtown
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