A time-honored Texas tradition is full swing – TX/OU weekend has wrapped up but the State Fair is still going strong. Today, we are taking a look back at every Texan’s favorite fall activity with ten little-known facts about the State Fair of Texas.
1. The Fair opened for the first time on October 25, 1886, at the same site in southeast Dallas where it stands today.
2. After the state banned gambling on horse races in 1903, the main attractions quickly became automobile races and stunt flying exhibitions.
3. Two United States Presidents have visited the State Fair of Texas – William Howard Taft in 1909 and Woodrow Wilson in 1911.
4. World War I caused the State Fair to be canceled in 1918, as Fair Park was converted into a temporary army encampment. The Fair was also canceled from 1942-1945, due to World War II.
5. The TX/OU rivalry game dates all the way back to 1929, the year before the Cotton Bowl was finished – originally known as Fair Park Stadium.
6. Many of the art deco buildings you see at the Fair now were first constructed in 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition, which attracted more than 6 million people over a six-month period.
7. Elvis Presley performed at the Cotton Bowl in the 1950s.
8. Big Tex made his debut in 1952, but didn’t have a voice until 1953. And he grew a bit after he suffered an electrical fire in 2012 – before the fire, he was 52 feet tall, and now he measures in at 55 feet.
9. In 1886, the fairgrounds were on 80 acres. Today, it encompasses a staggering 277 acres – so wear tennis shoes!
10. To rank the creative and ever-expanding selection of fried foods, the Fair started holding the Big Tex Choice Awards in 2005. That year, a fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich took home the top prize. Fried Jell-O snagged best taste for 2016.