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8 Family-Friendly (and Free!) Activities at the State Fair of Texas

The perfect kid-approved fair guide for just the price of admission

The State Fair of Texas is fast approaching, and kids of all ages are chomping at the bit to check out this year’s offerings in all their glory. (Not that we can blame them!) You, the responsible parent, know that every family needs a good game plan in order to conquer this fabulous fair. Whether or not your plan of action actually plays out perfectly—and, with kids, it rarely does—is not important, but it is nice to know how to maximize your admission ticket for the ultimate amount of fun without spending an additional penny. Because everyone knows that besides “family,” a parent’s favorite f-word is “free.”

The fair is full of amazing animal experiences for kids who want to walk on the wild side. If your babe’s bedroom resembles more of a pigpen, be sure to swing by The Pan Am Arena pig races for a squealing good time. This year, the arena also plays host to the All-Star Dog Stunt Show, a group of dogs that have all been rescued from shelters and trained to showcase their unique talents. At the Fair’s all new attraction Home on the Range –located inside the air-conditioned Coliseum –kids can feed a plethora of animals at the Children’s Barnyard petting zoo. The exhibit also features Little Hands on the Farm that takes it one step further with a farm-to-market activity that educates your little ones about how farm animals play a big role in producing the food that makes it to your family’s dinner table. Perhaps the State Fair’s best-kept secret is the Livestock Barns. Did you know that anyone is allowed to walk through the barns? Over 5,000 students will be on hand to show their animals and are happy to answer questions about their prized pets.

Once the final pig has pranced past the finish line and the last camel has been fed, your brood will likely be ready to wash your hands and explore what else the park has to offer. Lucky families will stock up on fried treats and line up to see the school bands enter the Cotton Bowl Stadium on game day. Nothing gets Mom and Dad going like a good, old-fashioned drum line. (College nostalgia is real, y’all!)

Other can’t-miss sights to see include the famous butter sculpture which is conveniently located just feet away from daily cooking demonstrations and tastings in the Creative Arts Building, and the interactive Backyard Circus in the Oak Farms Theater. At the circus, kiddos can dress up in costumes, watch tightrope walkers, twirl like ballerinas and even roar with excitement watching the lion tamers do their thing.

A soon-to-be fair favorite is the Wild West Pet Palooza in the Band Shell. Starring celebrity animal trainer Joel Slaven and a cast of rescue animals adopted from shelters across the country (including everything from dogs and cats to pigs and porcupines), the show offers family-friendly fun and hilarity every day during the State Fair’s run.

Looking to make your fair time an after-school activity? Aim to stick around until the Mattress Firm Illumination Sensation kicks off. This spectacular show boasts liquid fire fountains, dancing water features across the ground-level reflecting pool and sparkling fireworks to rival the Fourth of July skies. To wrap up an epic evening, your squad just has to snap a photo in front of the iconic Big Tex statue—a State Fair of Texas tradition since 1952. Keep it old school and take an actual photo to put in an actual picture frame. Years from now, you can look back and reflect on the amazing (and deep-fried) memories your family made on that fun day in Fair Park.


State Fair of Texas

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