The State Fair of Texas: A collection of weird (and true!) facts by Mike Lowery There's no substitute for the 24-day extravaganza of the Texas Spirit The cancellation of the fair this year wasn't exactly surprising, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. Where else can you find Fair Park's sensory overload, its jovial jumble of attractions from dancing troupes to dancing fountains, live music to livestock, and big hair to Big Tex? This illustration of Big Tex has several facts: 95 gallon hat, 55 feet tall, in the 1970s, a replacement shirt for Big Tex was stolen out of the delivery truck! He was originally a Santa Claus and was converted into a cowboy in 1952. He was purchased for just $750. His pants and shirt are made by Dickies. In 2013, the new Big Tex cost $500,000. Wears Lucchese boots, size 96.
Since 2005, the best new dishes at the fair have competed in the annual Big Tex Choice Awards. Here are a few notable entries.
Ruth's stuffed mexi-cone: Salsa, lime, black beans, rice, queso, stuffed in a cone-shaped tortilla Big Red Chicken Bread: fried chicken, little glasses and a Big Red-flavored donut
Deep-fried Chicken Noodle Soup: broth and crackers Pinot Noir Popcorn: Covered in 'wine powder' and mixed with cheese popcorn (classy!)
Cotton Candy Taco: cotton candy in a graham cracker taco shell Smoky Bacon Margarita: A margarita with bacon bits
There are many things we'll miss about the fair this year, but the indulgent and bizarre fried foods might top that list. How many of these deep-fried delicacies have you tried in the past — or plan to try next year? Let's play! A deep-fried bingo card including butter, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, jelly beans, Coke, Kool-Aid, Froot Loops, peanut butter and banana burger and s'mores
The fair has only been canceled a few times — like during WWI and WWII. During the first world war the fairgrounds were used as an army encampment. A few notable guests: Booker T. Washington (1900), Harry Houdini (1924), Elvis (1956), Debbie Reynolds (1977), Selena (1994), lots of presidents! Don't forget, next time you go, on Wednesdays admission is just $4 if you bring two cans of food! State fair coupons (the fair's currency) never expire.
The Red River Showdown, aka The Red River Shootout! A State Fair tradition for over 100 years! The Longhorns and the Sooners have been rivals since 1900 — that's longer than Oklahoma has been a state! Dallas is almost exactly equidistant from both schools. The Golden Hat was originally made out of bronze. UT leads the series overall, but OU has won 7 of the past 10 games. Texas won 8 years in a row ... twice!
Fletcher's Corny Dogs debuted in 1942 (that's 10 years before Big Tex!). They were originally just 15 cents! They go through 1,500 gallons of mustard and 800 gallons of ketchup every year. Created by vaudeville performers Neil and Carl Fletcher. Over 500,000 corny dogs are sold each year during the 240day event. That's 60,000 pounds of hot dogs! Fletcher's says mustard is the correct way to top a corny dog but started making ketchup available in 1994 due to customer demand.
Fair Park is home to one of the world's largest collections of art deco architecture A popular attraction in 1938 was Bozo the Mind-Reading Dog The State Fair of Texas by the Numbers The fair started in 1886, and it's still held in the same spot. It has grown from 80 acres to a whopping 277 acres! That's almost twice the size of Disneyland. Admission to the fair was originally 50 cents. IN 1897, a featured exhibit was a preserved 80,000-pound whale! One year it rained for 17 days of the monthlong fair. 14,000 people attended opening day in 1886. In 2019, more than 2.5 million people attended! The world record for largest butter sculpture was set at the fair in 2013 by SHaron Bumann for her massive 'Big Tex' made out of over 4,000 pounds of butter!

From the October 2020 issue
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