After extensive consideration of the current landscape related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety of all fairgoers, staff, business partners, and overall community, the State Fair of Texas Board of Directors has voted to cancel the 2020 State Fair of Texas.
“This was an extremely tough decision. The health and safety of all involved has remained our top priority throughout the decision-making process,” said Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas. “One of the greatest aspects of the Fair is welcoming each and every person who passes through our gates with smiles and open arms. In the current climate of COVID-19, there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love. While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas. The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season.”
I’m not surprised, but seeing the news still makes me sad.
This won’t be the first time in the Fair’s 134 years that it’s been cancelled.
The State Fair of Texas has previously canceled Fairs because of World War I (1918), planning for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and 1937 Pan American Exposition at Fair Park (1935 – 1937), and World War II (1942 – 1945).
The 2021 State Fair of Texas is scheduled to run Friday, September 24 through Sunday, October 17 in historic Fair Park.
I look forward to being there.
The other day, when the air turned cool, I had the thought: “This is Fair weather!” My husband, Ted, and I practically live at Fair Park for those 24 days of the Great State Fair of Texas. People are always surprised by how often we go, saying things like, “There can’t be that much to do,” or “It’s the same every year!” I dispute the first statement: there is plenty to do. The second statement is mostly true, but, I also think that is one of the reasons I love it so much. When I breathe in the fried grease mixed with smells from the livestock pavilion, see Big Tex waving his hand and booming out a Hello, it’s like visiting a good friend you only see once a year.
Every year, Ted and I take off Friday to go to the Fair on Opening Day. There’s nothing quite like beginning a celebration – and we definitely don’t want to miss it. Most people think the Fair is only vomit-inducing rides and rip-off Midway games – but it is so much more. Ted and I hardly spend any time on the Midway. We don’t have time! There are the pig races to see and the butter sculpture to ogle. The Vitamix demonstrations and the car show. Open museums with new exhibits and African acrobats defying gravity. Cooking shows to watch and searching for friends’ award-winning jellies in the Creative Arts building. And the food – the glorious, decadent, completely unhealthy but totally worth it food.
If we did nothing else at the Fair but eat, I would be a happy woman. I first have a round of all my favorites: fried green tomatoes, a cinnamon roll (admittedly, I will have more than one round of this particular item), a barbecue sandwich from Smokey Johns, and my new favorite: fried shrimp corny dog. We, of course, must try all the new foods, especially the award winners. Fried Frito Pie, here I come! But sometimes the food vendors get a little too creative and come up with something I can’t stomach. Sorry, Fried Beer, I won’t be tasting you this year. However, last year’s most creative prizewinner, Fried Butter, was a surprising dose of comfort food. I wish we could try every single food item, but alas, even attending all 24 days would not allow us to try them all.
The real joy of the fair is just soaking up the atmosphere. The Fair, for us, isn’t so much a place to do as it is to be. It’s a showcase of Texas culture and our exuberance for doing things BIG. Everyone is here to have a good time, suspending any dower thoughts or harsh realities. How can you frown while watching a hawk shoot out of the top of the Texas Star (the giant Ferris Wheel, for those of you squares who don’t know) and race above your head to the stage upfront – all while eating a corny dog and a Lemon Chill?
Sometimes the majesty of the fair can be too much. The crowds are massive and the constant sun exhausting. But even at the fair, there are places of reflective quiet. After an exciting day of walking 9 times around the park and eating more in a day than I do in a week, I find solace in a little known spot – The Texas Discovery Gardens. When the day is just turning into the first shadow of night, we’ll find a bench near the fountain to watch the casual butterfly float by. We rest our tired feet and feel the cool mist from the fountain on our sunburned skin. We talk over the day, the food we’ve had, the shows we watched, and the friends we unexpectedly ran into (which always seems to happen). We sit and we remember, savoring the day, and feeling just a little sad that only 23 days are left.