Festivals

Good with Frying Things? The State Fair Is Taking Applications for Food Vendors.

Planning is moving forward for in-person fried food this year.
Planning is moving forward for in-person fried food this year. State Fair of Texas
In perhaps the most scrumptious sign that things will, in fact, get back to normal soon(ish), The State Fair of Texas recently put out the all-call for our craziest fried food concoctions. From now through March 31 they're accepting applications from anyone interested in becoming a food or beverage vendor. The event is slated to run from Sept. 24 through Oct. 17.

“Do you have a super creative product and a seasoned history of serving folks by the masses? Then we’re looking for you!” the recent statement reads. “The Fair takes pride in offering something for everyone and we’re always looking to diversify and expand by adding new businesses to the annual lineup. Applications are currently open at BigTex.com.”

The Fair strongly advises applicants have big event experience because they see more than 2.4 million guests roll through their gates in just 24 days. And no one likes waiting in a line for hours for a corn dog – or do they?

Last year the State Fair of Texas was canceled because of the pandemic, and while we all bemoaned not being able to indulge in the exotic creations found there, the news was devastating for vendors and crews who rely on the month-long event as a sometimes sole source of income.


click to enlarge Funnel cake, while a solid choice, is really just a starting point. Think of it as a blank canvas. - STATE FAIR OF TEXAS
Funnel cake, while a solid choice, is really just a starting point. Think of it as a blank canvas.
State Fair of Texas
The fair pumps about $400 million into the North Texas economy every year. As a nonprofit, it directs much of that money into the South Dallas community. In January 2020, the State Fair allocated $483,000 in grants to more than 67 organizations in neighboring communities. Additionally, in 2020 eighty-two seniors graduating from the six Dallas ISD high schools closest to Fair Park received more than $1.24 million in college scholarships.

In terms of applying to fried-food madness, Big Tex and company are looking for vendors who, in addition to understanding how to maintain the perfect temperature of peanut oil, can take a gourmet regional food and give it a Texas twist. (Fried poutine with brisket!) And rain or shine, it’s all hands on deck for 24 days straight.

And it’s not cheap: the typical upfront minimum investment for food vendors is $5,000. Creating dishes quickly and efficiently is also important. Here are a few other things to expect if you decide to apply for the Fair.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.