Arts & Culture

Taylor Swift, Michelangelo and Clydesdales, oh my: Must-sees at the State Fair of Texas

Taylor Swift, seen here at a concert at AT&T Stadium last year, is the subject of a touring exhibit that will be at this year’s State Fair of Texas
Taylor Swift, seen here at a concert at AT&T Stadium last year, is the subject of a touring exhibit that will be at this year’s State Fair of Texas

Before you can partake in all the deep-fried deliciousness that is the State Fair of Texas, you have to get there, park, get your tickets and know what you want do. Here are a few of the highlights of the fair:

Things to do

▪ If celebrity DJ and former Taylor Swift boyfriend Calvin Harris goes to the fair, he might want to skip The Taylor Swift Experience. The exhibit, which originated at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, takes you “through her journey as a singer, songwriter and global icon.” 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily at the Hall of State.

▪ Speaking of music, there’s always a lot of it at the fair. Playing sets this year throughout the fair are some Lone Star State favorites including the Tejas Brothers, the Killdares and the Light Crust Doughboys. Among the headliners, Texan Kacey Musgraves kicks things off Friday night at 8:30 on the Chevrolet Main Stage.

▪ Attractions come and go but the butter sculpture is forever. This year, artist Ken Robinson will craft his sculpture around the theme “Celebrating Texas Agriculture” and it will be of last year’s award-winning steer.

▪ Michelangelo and the State Fair of Texas wouldn’t seem to have much in common but that’s not true this year. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition is making its debut in the U.S. at the fair. This is a photographic reproduction of the famous ceiling frescoes, displayed in their original size. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily in the Women’s Museum Building. This event requires a separate ticket. $8 general, $35 VIP nightly tour. wl.flavorus.com/SpecialEntertainmentEventsInc

▪ Still pining for some Olympics gymnastics? Check out Zulu African Acrobats as they fly through the air with the greatest of ease on the Mattress Firm Stage on the Esplanade.

▪ The Budweiser Clydesdales will be clip-clopping back to the fair in their first appearance at the event since 2005. They are featured in a special exhibit and there will be staff on hand to answer questions about the horses.

▪ Finally, if you can’t get enough of the fair, check out 341, a three-part miniseries airing on KERA/Channel 13 about the people who take part in the fair. The first episode airs 6:30 p.m. Sunday and the remaining episodes air at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and Oct. 30.

Getting there

Where is it: Fair Park, 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., Dallas, just east of downtown off I-30. Coming from the east on I-30, get off at exit 48B. Coming from the west on I-30, get off at exit 49B.

Days and hours: Sept. 30-Oct. 23. Gates open at 7 a.m. daily. Exhibit buildings, outdoor exhibits and food concessions open at 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Parking: $15, $30 valet. There are several lots in Fair Park. One, at Haskell and Fitzhugh, offers tram service to the entrance. There are many private lots available on surrounding properties but they vary in price and security.

Public transportation: The Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Green Line light rail stops at two stations near Fair Park: Fair Park Station, on Parry Avenue at the main entrance to the park, and MLK Jr. Station, on Robert B. Cullum Blvd. near the MLK fairground entrance (Gate 6).

From Tarrant County, the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) is running special weekend schedules during the fair. Trains stop at Victory Station at Victory Park in Dallas where fairgoers must transfer to DART’s Green Line. From Denton County, the A-Train connects with DART’s Green Line at Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton (note the A Train doesn’t run on Sundays).

Getting in

Tickets: General admission is $18 at the gate, $16 if purchased online. Children (under 48 inches in height) and seniors (60 and older) are $14 at the gate, $16 in advance. Seniors get free admission every Thursday. Season passes are $39.95 at the gate or in advance. Tickets can also be purchased at Kroger stores. For groups of 20 to 249, admission is $12 per person but must be booked in advance through groupsales@bigtex.com or call 214 565-2917. For groups of more than 250, call for discount pricing. There are also various season pass and family pass combo packages ranging in price from $95 to $189. For more information, go to http://bigtex.com/info/tickets/.

Food and rides: Fairgoers need to purchase coupons for rides and food. Sheets of 20 coupons cost $10 at booths throughout the fairgrounds.

For more information on the fair, go to bigtex.com.

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