By Amanda Hill
Growing up in Dallas, the State Fair of Texas was a BIG deal. Each year, we got a day off from school to explore the sights, sounds and foods of our state’s great tradition. Since we lived in the suburbs, my brother and I were in awe of everything–the cowboys, livestock, foods and, of course, Big Tex.
This Texas tradition has an incredible history and represents the best of the Lone Star State. The State Fair of Texas began as the Dallas State Fair & Exposition in 1886 on virtually the same plot of land in East Dallas. For more than 125 years, millions of Texans have passed through the gates of Fair Park to get a taste of life in rural Texas.
The State Fair has evolved over the years, moving more toward a food and entertainment venue. Today, many fairgoers head out to Fair Park on a mission to find this year’s strangest fried fair food or make a beeline for the Fletcher’s corndog stand. Food is still at the heart of the State Fair, but with a twist.
This year, I had to try the fried lemonade. Yes, fried lemonade. The experienced fair food creators at the Stiffler Brothers’ booth came up with this concoction—a lemon cake ball, fried and covered with a glaze of Country Time Lemonade, lemon juice and powdered sugar.
The Stiffler family works all year to perfect their entry for the Best Taste and Most Creative fried fair food contests. While I was there, I also tried their fried pumpkin pie. (It’s the State Fair… Why not?)
Then I headed over to the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Food and Fiber Pavilion. Here, fairgoers can sample foods that are grown and made for Texans, by Texans. If you visit the State Fair, be sure to stop in for ice cream from the Southwest Dairy Farmers, steak from our friends at the Texas Beef Council and countless Texas food and fiber products at the GO TEXAN General Store.
And while you’re in the Food and Fiber Pavilion, be sure to stop by Texas Farm Bureau’s Planet Agriculture exhibit, where you can learn more about Texas farmers and ranchers and how they grow our food.
The focus of the State Fair of Texas may have shifted from 1886, but its agricultural roots still shine through. As a kid, and even now, the State Fair allowed me to experience what Texas farmers and ranchers do to provide me and my family with nutritious food that is skillfully and carefully grown.
The State Fair of Texas—it’s certainly more than fried fair food and Big Tex.