Welcome to Go Inside: Exploring Texas Culture! Brought to you by First Choice Power, this series will explore the legends and history that make up the meat and bones of the Lone Star State. Specifically, we’ll share our favorite indoor attractions to visit, which includes the great museums and quirky cultural outposts that fill the Texas landscape.
A traditional Texas Fair is a place where small town vibes meet beneath the sparkle of bright lights. It’s a place to see parades, hear live music, indulge in all things fried, watch a small town rodeo, witness pig races, experience puppet shows, and soak up the culture of our great state.
For smaller towns and counties, this is the centerpiece to the year’s calendar line up. It brings the community together, and in times like these, we need any reason to connect, laugh, and share a few stories together.
Undoubtedly our state’s biggest fair, the State Fair of Texas has been held annually in Dallas since 1886 at the historic Fair Park.
Starting on the last Friday in September and ending 24 days later, this is Dallas’ signature event, and one of the most well attended fairs in the whole United States.
While Big Tex, the State Fair’s gigantic mascot, presides over the fair grounds and visitors are transported from one end of the park to the other via the Texas Skyway gondola, the focal point of the fair is the Red River Rivalry college football game, played in the Cotton Bowl between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma.
The calendar of events is diverse throughout the three weeks of fair time, and cultural stops include multicultural dancing performances, test driving cars, story times for children, live chainsaw carving performances, riding the massive ferris wheel, rooster crowing contests, live music, a barnyard for children, and art installations, to name a few!
But you cannot attend the State Fair of Texas without experiencing a buffet of its famous fried foods. From deep fried butter to deep fried oreos to chicken fried bacon, alongside deep fried pork ribs and deep fried twinkles, only in Texas will you find fat deep-fried in fat.
Since 1954, the small town of Luling has held a fair, or thump as they call it, to honor the local watermelon growers in the region. It is traditionally held on the last full weekend in June.
A Texas tradition, folks from the area and out of towners gather to celebrate locally grown sweet, juicy watermelons. A seed spitting contest takes center stage, and carnival rides alongside food booths and live music make this a fun hometown family summer event.
The largest Black Diamond championship melon, which is a specific type of melon and the only acceptable variety grown for Championship honors, weighed in at 80lbs! The Thump has gained some national attention over the years where the championship melon has been sent to celebrities. Johnny Carson received the champion melon in 1972 and President Ronald Reagan received it in 1981. How heavy do you think this year’s winner will be?
As the oldest fair in the state, founded in 1868, the Washington County Fair takes place in the “Birthplace of the Texas Republic,” in beautiful Brenham.
Livestock shows, rodeos, carnival rides, and arts and crafts shows are a few attractions that gather the locals and tourists to this old fair.
While you’re out this way, be sure to visit Washington on the Brazos, where you’ll find the Barrington Living History Farm, Star of the Republic of Texas Museum, and Independence Hall. This park is a perfect place to picnic, birdwatch, and learn about the lives and times of those who fought and won Texas’ independence from Mexico.
Central Texas’ largest fair, the Comal County Fair and Rodeo, calls New Braunfels home.
Here you can line up to compete in the Washer Pitchin’ Tournament, or take in the pageantry of the Rodeo Queen Contest.
Bring your kid to compete in the Kid Best Dressed Western contest, or sample meats from the barbecue cook-off. You can also find pig racing contests, stick horse races, a parade and a chili contest!
Home and heritage is also an important competitive component of this fair, where you can learn about and experience contests for canning and preserving, home brewing beer, an antique tractor pull, woodworking, knitting, and more.
Did we miss any of your favorite Texas fairs? Let us know in the comments!