State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas Is Back. Here’s Everything—OK, a Few Things—You Need to Know

Do you have to wear a mask? Who is the voice of Big Tex? What is a bacon jam corn bomb? Answers to these questions and more.

The State Fair of Texas is back, opening today and running through Oct. 17. Maybe you have questions. I definitely have answers.

Q: Do I have to wear a mask? Yes, if you’re indoors. Outdoors, it’s recommended if you’re in a crowded area. If you don’t have a mask, the fair will give you one. You’ll see hand sanitizer stationed throughout Fair Park. Try not to spit and scream too much. Good rule of thumb in this and in all things: Don’t be a jerk.

Q: I’m still pretty nervous about all this COVID business. Is it safe for me to go to the fair? Health experts told the Dallas Observer that if you’re vaccinated and taking reasonable precautions (like masking), you’re good. If you’re unvaccinated and at high risk if you get sick, stay home.

Q: Tell me more about these COVID-19 vaccines. They sound pretty swell. I think I’m interested in this safe and effective measure against preventing the spread of disease. Can I get vaccinated at the fair? Sure can. Dallas County’s giving out Pfizer doses at a pop-up clinic every day just behind Big Tex. Get the jab and you get $20 worth of coupons.

Q: Can I use old coupons at this year’s fair? Yes. You may also notice coupons are pricier this year: $1 vs. 50 cents per coupon. Fair officials told the Dallas Morning News that’s just so they have to print fewer coupons—rides and corny dogs aren’t any more expensive than usual. Although “usual” is still pretty expensive. And the price of weekend admission has in fact gone up this year. Get those discounts where you can. (Your old coupons are now worth $1 each.)

Q: Can I bring my selfie stick? No.

Q: What about my drone? No.

Q: What about my skateboard? No.

Q: My knives? My taser? My clubs and scissors? No.

Q: OK, can I bring my gun? If you have a valid Texas License to Carry a Handgun, you can bring a concealed handgun. You cannot bring your concealed handgun in wherever a sporting event is taking place, so that means the Cotton Bowl on game days (Texas-OU, Grambling State-Prairie View A&M) and some of the livestock facilities during interscholastic events. Open carry remains prohibited. Fair Park is a public space, but the State Fair is a private operator not bound by Texas’ new law allowing permitless carry in public.

Q: Are there some wacky new fair foods I should know about? Do the words “bacon jam corn bombs” mean anything to you?

Q: Can I stick to my keto diet while eating at the State Fair? Do vendors have keto options? I am the mayor of the ninth biggest city in the United States and I am tweeting about this until I get some answers. Yes, Mayor Johnson, you can eat keto at the fair. Vegetarians and vegans, you also have options.

Q: Can we talk about the butter sculptures? I am always ready to talk about the butter sculptures.

Q: I heard they got somebody new to do the voice of Big Tex. Who is it? There is a new voice of Big Tex, although their identity is top secret. I can tell you that it’s not me. Although if it was me, I guess I’d have to say that.

Q: What about you, Alex? Are you going to the fair this year? I am going to the fair this year. I don’t know where exactly at Fair Park you’ll be able to find me, but not in a concealed bunker near Big Tex, booming “Howdy, folks” into a microphone. Because that’s something the new voice of Big Tex would do. And I am not the new voice of Big Tex. If I was, I certainly wouldn’t type all this stuff about me not being the voice of Big Tex.

Q: Does D Magazine have some kind of online interactive feature about the fair, like a March Madness-style bracket where I can vote on my favorite fair foods? Could I possibly click on a link to something like that from within this blog post to demonstrate that you, Alex, are aware of and duly promoting company initiatives as instructed, unlike the last time when you forgot and it was kind of a thing, even though you didn’t think it was that big of a deal and you could just write about it later and how about we all just chill for a second? Great question. And yes. It launched today.

*A version of this FAQ appeared this morning in the LeadingOff newsletter.

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