The opening day of the State Fair of Texas is a big deal for my family and me. We plan days off work to attend every year. As the opening day gets closer, the anticipation and excitement build for all of us.
We normally arrive, get scanned in and then start the journey to try all of the Big Tex Choice Award winners. If we don’t finish the list of foods on the first day, we usually make a few more trips back.
Because of COVID-19, the "fair" was much different this year. First of all, there was not an ordinary opening day. To experience the fair, minus the rides, midway, live music, livestock and other typical fairlike features, you have to buy a ticket package for your car and go through a drive-thru experience.
Our time slot was from 1 to 5 p.m., and we arrived at the fairgrounds a few minutes before 1 p.m. We waited in the car line for an hour and a half, finally getting in the gates at 2:27 p.m.
There was another wait to get inside to fairgrounds: The parking lot was organized with cones in a snake pattern, and you were required to weave multiple times before reaching the ticket gate. Portable toilets are spread out all over the parking lot. They’re clean, have toilet paper and most have sanitizer.
We arrived at the gate for them to scan our tickets at 4:49 p.m., nearly three hours after arrival and just 11 minutes until the end of our time slot. The Dallas Morning News reports that fair officials are working on this long wait time.
Included in our package was a picture with Big Tex, who was wearing his mask and maintaining his social distance from the crowds. At Big Tex, there were eight stations with photographers who took your picture and sent it to your phone via text. There’s an option to purchase these photos in all different sizes, of course.
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The parking around Big Tex created an additional traffic jam. The total time it took us for the whole experience was just over five hours. I did speak to other loyal fairgoers who had tickets for opening weekend on Friday and Sunday, and they said their experience took about three hours.
I have memories of my grandmother taking me to the fair as a child; it's a tradition I’m trying to keep with my kids. I appreciate the fair coming up with an experience that we could be a part of for 2020.
A few tips I can give if you plan on going:
- Plan your day around this event.
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas.
- Take snacks/drinks, especially if you have little ones.
- Bring wipes/hand sanitizer.
- Be patient with the workers and others waiting along with you.