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State Fair of Texas pivots to keep State Fair spirit alive this fall

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As the 2020 State Fair of Texas season ends, it’s clear that this year was one for the history books. While the 24-day event was unable to happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Fair of Texas found ways to continue fulfilling our nonprofit mission and creatively keep the State Fair of Texas spirit alive this fall.

“While we are disappointed we weren’t able to host the 2020 State Fair of Texas as we had hoped, due to COVID-19, we are thankful for all the folks who have joined us for our alternative offerings to help continue the tradition of celebrating all things Texan this year,” said Mitchell Glieber, State Fair of Texas president. “As the 2020 State Fair season comes to a close, we look forward to better times ahead and Big Tex welcoming fairgoers back for the 2021 State Fair of Texas, as we celebrate 135 years of an iconic Texas tradition next year.”

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Fair aims to support the community, both locally and statewide. The net proceeds from the Fair are used to preserve and improve Fair Park, our home for 134 years; underwrite museums, community initiatives, and scholarship programs to support students throughout the Lone Star State pursuing higher education; and help improve State Fair operations to continue hosting a world-class event each fall. A successful 24-day run for the Fair means more support for Fair Park and the surrounding community. When the Fair announced cancellation of the 2020 State Fair of Texas in early July, the Fair’s commitment to our nonprofit mission of promoting agriculture, education, and community involvement continued. The Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and livestock shows, Big Tex Scholarship Program, Big Tex Urban Farms, and our community outreach initiatives continued to have funding and we committed to maintaining as many participation opportunities as possible as it related to livestock and creative arts this year. The State Fair of Texas has fulfilled those promises.

While this year has not been what we expected, we are pleased to share some of the noteworthy successes from the State Fair of Texas organization this year:

  • The team at the State Fair of Texas curated a new collection of fun-filled virtual events celebrating Texas, downloadable Fair activities for the kids, and all-new digital and video content to allow you to create new Fair traditions and celebrate your favorite aspects of the State Fair of Texas this year. Whether it was learning how to make a Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger, learning more about Texas cheese and wine, entering or voting in our inaugural Big Tex Photo Challenge, or taking a virtual ride on the Texas Star Ferris wheel, more than 150,000 people participated in our Fair From Home activation this year
  • Nearly 65,000 votes were cast in the Fair Food Madness, Big Tex Choice Awards Championship, awarding the Texas Fried FRITOS® Pie by Nick Bert with the championship title
  • During the pandemic, the Fair launched an all new Little Lone Stars Club – a free membership for young fans of the Fair – more than 21,000 cowboys and cowgirls ages 12 and younger. From May to September, the State Fair of Texas delivered free, fun, Fair-related activities for kiddos straight to their mailbox, in addition to birthday cards throughout the year
  • The State Fair welcomed nearly 23,000 cars of fairgoers over 15 days of drive-thru events, the Big Tex Photo Drive-Thru and the Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru, a progressive Fair food experience on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas
  • More than 32,000 photos were snapped with a masked Big Tex this year. Big Tex’s “Howdy Folks” face mask measured approximately seven feet by four feet
  • Eight Texas music acts performed on the Chevrolet Drive-Thru Stage during the Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru
  • In a year that has seen many livestock shows canceled, the State Fair found a safe way to host a limited amount of Texas students in our livestock competitions this year. The Fair’s livestock and agricultural events hosted approximately 2,700 livestock entries, all competing for one of the 433 coveted spots in the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction
  • On Friday, October 2, the 72nd Annual Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction raised more than $1 million for youth livestock exhibitors throughout the Lone Star State. Thank you to those who participated in our fundraising events this year: Big Tex Clay Shoot Classic, Big Tex Golf Classic, and Big Tex Champion Club Dinners
  • The Grand Champion Market Steer of the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction was sold to the Big Tex Champion Club for $75,000
  • Through an unprecedented partnership with the Heart O’ Texas Fair in Waco, Texas, called The United, both fairs welcomed more than 1,900 livestock entries and awarded more than $22,000 to the top five overall exhibitors in the three joint shows – including prospect steers, heifers, and gilts
  • The State Fair of Texas hosted 24,000 socially distanced fans for this year’s AT&T Red River Showdown in historic Cotton Bowl Stadium
  • Community members got crafty with more than 5,300 entries in the Fair’s Creative Arts competitions. With more than 2,800 contestants, 20% were newcomers who tried their hand at entering Creative Arts competitions, and more than 730 were youth participants. More than 250 entries were submitted in our first ever virtual Creative Arts contests
  • Every year, the creative arts department selects one outstanding entry as the Director’s Award, representing the highest levels of creativity of all the 2020 creative arts contests. This year, the recipient of the Director’s Award made history as the youngest ever – 17-year-old Allison Denter won the award with her entry of an oil pastel painting on handmade paper with thread detail.
  • Due to the results of the 2019 State Fair, the State Fair of Texas was able to provide $2.5 million in 2020 for Fair Park improvements to the city of Dallas
  • Hundreds of community members were involved in several virtual events sponsored by the State Fair of Texas community affairs team
  • A new resource called was created to highlight Southern Sector nonprofits
  • South Dallas Nonprofit Connection calls started during COVID-19 to connect nonprofit organizations in the South Dallas area for more effective collaboration. More than 30 organizations participate in each monthly call, facilitated by the State Fair of Texas
  • More than 80 pastors and faith leaders participated in the Pastor’s Forum featuring Dr. Bryan Carter, Akilah Wallace, Ricardo Brambila, and others
  • 137 nonprofit leaders participated in the January census training led by the State Fair of Texas
  • Work of the South Dallas/Fair Park Transportation Initiative has resulted in a pilot project with DART beginning in 2021 in South Dallas
  • South Dallas Employment Pilot, with managing partners State Fair of Texas and Redemption Bridge, has connected more than 60 partners to provide livable wage employment and national level certifications to individuals impacted by incarceration. Partners include Dallas College, City of Dallas, and North Central Texas Council of Governments along with multiple South Dallas nonprofits
  • United Way Nonprofit Infrastructure Cohort, led by United Way and State Fair of Texas, provided training and capacity building for 10 nonprofits focused on re-entry work. We also hosted a cohort for organizations providing summer programs to help them pivot during the pandemic
  • The State Fair continues to support Lincoln and Madison High Schools through our involvement in their P-Tech programs
  • Held virtually for the first time this year, the Big Tex Job Fair connected 54 employers with more than 1,350 potential employees. Through our partnership with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, Goodwill Industries of Dallas, and Communities Foundation of Texas, there was a week of professional development to prepare and equip potential employees for their future
  • The State Fair hosted two Community Engagement Days virtually in June and September, allowing more than 100 local organizations and individuals to connect and share ideas, with discussions centered around advocacy
  • Presented by the State Fair of Texas, 18 community organizations, and nearly 100 volunteers, NXT Fest 2020, a student conference, welcomed more than 400 high school students from 15 Dallas Independent School District (DISD) high schools. Note: This event was held locally in February, prior to the pandemic impacting the Dallas area
  • The Fair virtually hosted the Third Annual Juanita Craft Humanitarian Awards, awarding six individuals following in Mrs. Craft’s footsteps, making a positive impact in their community and in civil rights efforts
  • So far in 2020, Big Tex Urban Farms has donated more than 21,000 pounds of fresh produce. This equates to 241,182 servings of fresh produce donated to the South Dallas/Fair Park community and more than $66,000 of economic impact. Since inception, Big Tex Urban Farms has donated more than 56,000 pounds of fresh produce to our neighbors in South Dallas/Fair Park
  • In 2020, the Fair awarded nearly $1.24 million in new college scholarships to more than 200 students throughout the Lone Star State
  • The Big Tex Scholarship Program is currently providing funding to 645 students at 58 colleges and universities throughout the Lone Star State. With college applications right around the corner, the Fair encourages eligible high school seniors and seasonal employees to go online to and apply now for a 2021 Big Tex college scholarship

Whether it was from your car, from the livestock barns, or from the comfort of home, we would like to give a Texas-sized thank you to each person who celebrated all things Texan during the 2020 State Fair of Texas season. The 2021 State Fair of Texas is scheduled to run from Friday, September 24 through Sunday, October 17 in Fair Park. Big Tex and everyone at the Fair will be eagerly waiting to welcome y’all back next year. Stay tuned to and the Fair’s social media channels for updates.

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