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The State Fair Of Texas Makes Triumphant Return To Fair Park

A group of four older friends take a selfie in front of the Lone Start Boulevard walkway at the Texas State Fair on opening day, Sept, 24, 2021.
Keren Carrión
A group of friends take a selfie at the entrance of the Texas State Fair on opening day, Sept. 24, 2021.

The State Fair of Texas opened in-person on Friday after a year off due to the pandemic. Crowds flooded Fair Park’s entrances to grab corny dogs, watch the parade and hear Big Tex’s iconic “Howdy, folks!”

The event's return has been long awaited by fair fanatics like 71-year-old Ron Richardson from Mesquite.

“I’ve been coming to the fair since I was 7 years old, and I haven’t missed a year since except for last year because of COVID,” he said.

In an effort to keep the spirit of the event alive, the city created a Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru. Richardson went to the drive-through 13 times, but he says it wasn’t the same.

The Mesquite local recalled when the 2020 state fair was canceled, saying “that was one of the hardest days of my life.”

Now, he’s excited to get his favorites: a cinnamon roll, corn-on-the-cob and baked potato.

Other visitors like 9-year-old Maggie Boone may have less experience with the state fair, but she’s just as enthusiastic about its return.

Keren Carrión
Ashley Boone, left, and her two daughters, Maggie and Blakely, were one of the first visitors at the state fair on Friday morning. They grabbed caramel apples and chocolate covered treats before heading to the petting zoo.

She munched on a bright-red candy apple with her mom Ashley and her younger sister Blakely. The young fairgoer could hardly contain her excitement about all the things she loved about the state fair.

“The games and seeing big Tex!” she exclaimed. “I’m most excited about winning a giant prize.”

Her mom says her family plans to visit the petting zoo, watch the stunt show and play some games.

For some visitors, the opening of the fair is such a momentous occasion, they took the day off of work or school.

“It’s definitely worth missing at least a day,” said 17-year-old Alexandra Ganez with a laugh.

Her family has a tradition of visiting the first day of the state fair every year, so she said the cancellation of the in-person event last year was a disappointment.

Now, she’s eager to enjoy a corny dog and turkey leg. More importantly, she said she’s just grateful to see all the people who came out.

“I think just seeing everyone come together and unite as a community is really great since the pandemic started,” she said.

Visitors can enjoy the festivities until Oct. 17 at Fair Park.

A daughter and mom each hold a corndog in their hand, while they smile and pose in front of Big Tex, at the opening day of the State Fair of Texas, on Sept. 24, 2021.
Keren Carrión
Alexandra Ganez, 17, and her mom, enjoy corndogs on Friday morning at the State Fair of Texas.

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Got a tip? Email Elizabeth Myong at You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter @Elizabeth_Myong.

Keren Carrión is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Got a tip? Email Keren at You can follow Keren on Twitter @kerencarrion8.

Elizabeth Myong is KERA’s Arts Collaborative Reporter. She came to KERA from New York, where she worked as a CNBC fellow covering breaking news and politics. Before that, she freelanced as a features reporter for the Houston Chronicle and a modern arts reporter for Houstonia Magazine.
Keren I. Carrión is a visual journalist for KERA in Dallas as well as The Texas Newsroom, a journalism collaboration among the public radio stations of Texas and NPR. She is currently a Report for America corps member.