New Attractions for the State Fair This Year
Celebrating 131 years of tradition in the fall, the State Fair of Texas® will return for another season of food, festivities, and family fun. Themed “Celebrating Texans,” this year’s exposition kicks off on Friday, September 29 in historic Fair Park. The State Fair team is already in full Fair mode, prepping and planning for the big event. Adding on to its annual offering of more than 100 daily performances included with admission, 70 Midway rides, enough Midway games to keep you entertained for hours, and endless activities across the fairgrounds, the State Fair is excited to announce several new attractions lined up for the 2017 event.
Recognizing this year as the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, two commemorative exhibits will be open to guests throughout the run of the Fair. Featured at the Hall of State, “Texas in the First World War” provides an in-depth look into Lone Star State history, exploring the active roles that both Texas and the United States played throughout the pivotal war era. Displaying a collection of wartime memorabilia and vehicles such as a Model T ambulance and a 1917 Indian motorcycle, the exhibit also incorporates details of the significant “Punitive Expedition” and the operation’s influences leading up to America’s involvement in WWI. Another memorial exhibit featured at the D.A.R. House this year, “America and World War I,” showcases a variety of original artifacts ranging from personal items to weaponry gathered from all participating nations during the Great War.
In addition to hosting “Texas in the First World War” during this year’s exposition, the Hall of State presents “Drawing Power: The Editorial Art of John Knott.” The exhibit pays tribute to respected cartoonist, John Knott, whose artwork amassed to more than 15,000 pieces throughout his 52-year history working for The Dallas Morning News. With a portfolio of drawings that encompasses every possible aspect of the public’s interest throughout the years, the featured display includes topics of his work that still relate to today’s modern audiences.
In 2016 the State Fair of Texas introduced Big Tex Urban Farms, a revolutionary urban garden system in the heart of Fair Park. In alignment with the Fair’s mission of promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement, Big Tex Urban Farms serves as an outdoor learning space while providing fresh, organic produce to the surrounding communities. The urban farm is composed entirely of mobile planting beds, all of which can be easily transported to other locations when the space is needed for the Fair’s annual exposition. Starting out with 100 planters in 2016, the farm has grown to 520 planters in 2017. During this year’s Fair some of the planters will be housed in the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway, where guests can see how the newest crops are doing. Fairgoers can also check out the new hydroponic system inside the greenhouse, a deep water culture tank with the capability of producing 25,000 plants per year. The Fair will continue to donate all Big Tex Urban Farms produce to Fair Park-area organizations, and with these new additions will be able to grow its partnerships and expand its initiatives even more.
As a nod to the Fair’s agricultural roots, “Agriculture in Texas” will serve as the new exhibit in the Science Place building. One section of the exhibit will highlight innovations in urban agriculture, featuring a portion of the planters from Big Tex Urban Farms as well as a smaller-scale version of the hydroponic system that can be found in the Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway. In collaboration with engineering students from the Hunt Institute at SMU, the Fair is hosting “Evie,” a trailer-turned-mobile greenhouse that will serve as another feature of the new exhibit. The other section of “Agriculture in Texas” will spotlight organizations in the North Texas area working to combat hunger through community gardens and urban farming.
Opening just in time for the 2017 exposition, the new Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center is a 55,000-square-foot facility that meets the growing needs of the State Fair’s agricultural education programs. The multipurpose facility will attract new shows, meetings, events, and conventions to Fair Park throughout the year, as well as expand the scope of livestock and agriculture activities during the Fair’s annual event. With the goal of growing educational programs both during the Fair and throughout the year, the new facility provides more opportunities for hardworking 4-H and FFA students around the state of Texas. For fairgoers who want to learn more about agriculture and its significance in our everyday lives, the “I Spy Texas” exhibit will be housed in the foyer of the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center. “I Spy Texas” debuted at the 2016 Fair and returns this year with an all-new location. The interactive exhibit takes visitors on a road trip of Texas, allowing them to tour each region of the Lone Star State and learn about the natural resources and wildlife native to each area.
After a successful first run at the 2016 Fair, the action-packed Xpogo show will be moving to an all-new location this year. The extreme sports show features pogo professionals showing off their skills with gravity-defying tricks, flips, and spins. Guests can catch a daily Xpogo performance in Chevrolet Park Plaza, which also hosts the Lords of Gravity Basketball Slam Dunk Show. Returning for its second year at the Fair, the Lords of Gravity group hails from Budapest, Hungary and has become one of the most well-known acrobatic basketball teams in Europe.
Captivating crowds of all ages with mind-blowing magic tricks and illusions, World of Magic will be another new attraction this year. Located at Oak Farms Showplace Theatre in the Creative Arts building, the magic show features a performance by award-winning illusionists and even a floating robot. Fairgoers can also visit the theatre to find Backyard Circus at its new location, which offers little ones the chance to dress up in costumes and take part in a show starring lion tamers, tight-rope walkers, ballerinas and a host of circus favorites.
As a new addition this year, the Texas Discovery Gardens will host a variety of ornate floral arrangements from the Ikebana International Dallas Chapter – Ikebana is the Japanese art of arranging flowers. Returning exhibits include the “Snakes of Texas,” bringing native reptiles of all shapes and sizes, along with the “Honeybee Tree” exhibit in the Butterfly House, giving visitors the chance to see a live honeybee hive in action.
State Fair foodies can look forward to a few new food locales hitting the grounds this fall. Gulf Coast Grill brings another destination to relax between activities or grab a bite to eat, located next to the Leonhardt Lagoon across from Cotton Bowl Plaza. The island-style grill rounds out the Fair’s restaurant lineup with a tropical flair, and will also feature live music from local artists on weekends. Stiffler’s Mom’s Cookie Factory will be serving up gourmet chocolate chip cookies and milk by the masses. Debuting on the Midway this year, the factory showcases two observation windows and boasts the ability to bake 800 cookies every 11 minutes. Fairgoers can order cookies by the bucket or in a bag of six, and then watch the baking process from start to finish. A new Cotton Candy Stand location will be housed in the very center of the Tower Building, showcasing how cotton candy is made. Joining a wide variety of neighboring cuisine options, the new stand’s colorful façade and sweet appeal will brighten up the State Fair’s food headquarters.
Sports fans can prepare for another round of football games inside the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium during the 2017 Fair. Returning on October 7, the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic brings its annual matchup between Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M University. The rivalry continues October 14 when Cotton Bowl Stadium hosts the AT&T Red River Showdown, where the University of Texas Longhorns face the University of Oklahoma Sooners.