Focus on the Backroads » Photo Journeys


On January 30,1886, a group of Dallas business leaders chartered a private corporation; The Dallas State Fair and Exposition, which was to become THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS.  Immediately there were was a disagreement over where to locate the site – resulting in a split into two separate groups; on the Dallas State Fair and the other The Texas State Fair and Exposition.  They opened within a day of each other both with exhibit facilities and a racetrack.  Both events attracted large crowds that exceeded 100,000 but revenues for the fairs did not meet expenses; the two groups merged in 1887 becoming the Texas State Fair and Dallas Expostition.

Thousands would visit the fair every year to see the exhibits and women competed for prizes in baking, preserving, and needlework.  There were also appearances by such notables as John Philip Sousa, William Jennings Bryan, and Booker T. Washington.  President William Howard Taft visited there fair in 1909.  In the early 1900s car races and stunt flying shows became the top attractions.  Over 1,000,000 people visited the fair in 1916.  In 1918 the fair was cancelled because of World War I and was converted into a temporary army camp.

The 1920s brought development to the fair grounds.  The Music Hall was completed in 1925 and staged many Broadway shows for the first time in Texas.  In 1930 the racetrack was razed to permit construction of a 46,000 seat stadium that would be know as the The Cotton Bowl.  Texas and OU played the first Red River Rivalry at the stadium in 1932.  The first Cotton Bowl Classic was played there in 1937.

Some other historical State Fair of Texas dates:

  • 1952 Big Tex made his first appearance as the official fair greeting – since that time he has greeted millions of visitor to the state fair
  • 1956 the Trailblazer monorail began operating at Fair Park .  It was the first commercial operated monorail system in the US
  • 1956 Elvis Presley performed at the Cotton Bowl
  • 1960 the Dallas Texas of the AFL and the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL played their first seasons in the Cotton Bowl
  • 1964 the monorail closed and was replaced by the Swiss Sky Ride
  • 1985 the Texas Star opens and was the largest ferris wheel in North America
  • 2010 fairgoers spent over $37 million – a new fair record
  • 2012 Big Tex caught fire all the remains on his frame was his right arm
  • 2013 the new Big Tex was unveiled the day before the fair opened

Through all the years and The State Fair of Texas is still considered  to be one of the most attended and best state fairs in America.

Howdy Folks, and welcome to the STATE FAIR OF TEXAS………Big Tex

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