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Guide to the State Fair of Texas 2011

Fall is here and that means one thing for residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex: State Fair time! Fort Worth ISD student brought home tickets last week for free admission any weekday starting on October 10th. Columbus Day is a school holiday and the perfect time to spend a day at Fair Park. Whether you've never visited the fair or you've attended every year since grade school, here is everything you need to know before you go.

Quick facts

Dates: September 30th - October 23rd, 2011
Times: Fairgrounds open 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily (Hours may vary at specific buildings and activities.)
Location: Fair Park, Dallas
Gate admission: adults $16, children 3+ years under 48" and senior citizens $12
Parking: $15 (See the Guide to parking for safety information)

There are several opportunities for discounted admission each year including free senior days and discounts when you bring in a canned good to donate to the food bank. See the full list of discounts from My Dallas Mommy.

Of course that is just the beginning. What do you do once you get there? The choices are almost unlimited.

Food
The State Fair of Texas has a reputation for bringing out the more creative side of chefs who specialize in fried foods. If that doesn't spark your appetite, you'll find vendors with everything from classic corn dogs and nachos to elaborate barbecue plates complete with sides. Food vendor accept coupons, which can be purchased at various booths across the grounds at 50 cents each.

Entertainment
Performances on the Chevy main stage are free and will feature artists such as Hanson and Randy Travis. Other free daily shows also include acrobatic troupe Cirque Shanghai, the BMX Bike Show, celebrity chef demonstrations, and the Mapapa African acrobats just to name a few.

Animals
What would the fair be without animals? Visit the cattle barn and pig barn for livestock exhibits, watch the In Line Team horse show, and watch a demonstration with local dairy cows at the Milking Parlor. Enjoy Steve Martin's Birds of the World show or the Pan American Arena dog shows and pig races.

Kids' activities
There are plenty of free activities to keep your child busy (and distracted from the ones that cost) all day! Watch Farmer Mike carve some amazing pumpkins and each child can paint one of his or her own at the Greenhouse on the Midway. Get up close to a barnyard of animals at the Children's Medical Center Barnyard. Little Hands on the Farm lets kids see what it would be like to work on a farm, including "pretend" egg-gathering, planting, harvesting, and caring for a cow.

This is but a small sample of the fun to be had at the State Fair of Texas. For more information visit Big Tex online.

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