The countdown can end – the 2019 State Fair of Texas is officially here.
Friday is the first day of the 24-day celebration of all things Texas and includes the Opening Day Parade and an '80s icon in concert.
The Opening Day Parade starts at noon inside Fair Park, beginning near First Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and ending by Chevrolet Park Plaza. The Opening Day Ceremony starts at 7 p.m. on the steps of the Hall of State. The 2019 Pride of Texas Award will be announced at that time.
Other events for the day include the first of the nightly Starlight Parades, then the Illumination Sensation performance (also a nightly event). The day ends with the first of the concert series, Rick Springfield performing on the Chevrolet Main Stage.
The theme of the fair this year is “Celebrating Texas Creativity,” and nothing is more creative at the fair than the food. This year's Big Tex Award-winning fare will be available, along with lots more. Other new foods for 2019 include Cajun Crab Bombs, Stuffed Turkey Legs, Deep Fried Nutella Custard Stuffed French Toast and Champagne Jello Hot Shots (adults, only please). Hungry yet?
Hot tip for fair foodies — special food pricing is offered every Thursday of the fair.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
First, know your schedule. There are tons of events, tours, exhibits and concerts every day of the fair. Be sure to check the fair schedule — they even offer guided itineraries to help you plan your visit.
Know where to park or take public transit. Driving directions are offered on BigTex.com. You can also take the DART Rail Line to the Fair Park Station or the MLK Jr. Station — both deliver you right to the fairgrounds. Tarrant County folks can take the Trinity Railway Express to the DART Rail Green Line in Dallas. Denton County folks can take the Denton County A-train and transfer to DART's Green Line at Trinity Mills.
Download and/or bookmark the map. You'll be glad you did. It has tabs for all the stuff you'll want to see, do and eat. The mobile version can also help you find where you are. The downloaded map is colorful and easy to read — and go ahead and print one (at least) out. It can really help if little ones get bored.
Get a Visitor's Guide. Download one from the website.
Headed to the Cotton Bowl for some football? Check out the updated stadium regulations — they now follow NFL policy regarding clear bags. According to a statement, approved bags include bags and totes that are made of clear plastic and do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12”, one-gallon clear resealable plastic storage bags, and small clutch bags or purses (which are not required to be clear) that do not exceed 4.5” x 6.5”.
The three football games during the fair are Prairie View A&M vs Grambling State University at 4 p.m., Sept. 28; University of Texas vs University of Oklahoma (it's 90th year) at 11 a.m., Oct. 12; and finally Texas Southern University vs Southern University at 2 p.m., Oct. 19.