Successes and Unforgettable Memories: Highlights from the 2023 State Fair of Texas

Little Big Tex souvenir stand
State Fair of Texas photo by Kevin Brown

Looking back at the 2023 State Fair of Texas, here are a few of the more noteworthy successes from this year’s exposition.

The State Fair of Texas welcomed more than 2.3 million fairgoers through the gates. The all-new Kroger® Starlight Parade featured brand-new floats that illuminated the fairgrounds each night. More than 790 riders were seen on the floats during 24 processions. Over 71,000 folks attended 15 free rodeo events across the 24-day run of the State Fair. More than 400 folks supported the Feed the Need promotion by donating 217,913 pounds of canned food items at the State Fair gates. This means 181,594 meals for the North Texas Food Bank to serve the community this fall.

More State Fair Stats

Over 17,000 first responders and their families visited the Fair over 24 days, using the special discount offer in gratitude for their service. More than 54,000 members of the military and their families visited the Fair over 24 days, utilizing the special discount offer in gratitude for their service. More than 528,000 Visitor’s Guides were handed out, informing fairgoers of all the Fair fun they can enjoy during their visit. The State Fair welcomed 30 new shopping booths this year, creating 268 shopping locations for fairgoers to enjoy. Approximately 518,000 Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs were sold during the 24-day run of the State Fair of Texas. More than 1.95 million free admission tickets were given to students throughout North Texas. More than 320,000 teachers received a voucher for free admission.

2023 State Fair
State Fair of Texas photo by Kevin Brown

Community members got crafty with more than 12,102 entries in the Fair’s Creative Arts competitions. The State Fair awarded 4,181 ribbons to folks celebrating their creativity this year. The State Fair’s cooking contests featured 2,951 participants from across the state. During the fourth year of the Lone Star Music Series, more than 50 Texas music artists performed throughout the grounds. More than 1,100 admission tickets were donated to local nonprofit organizations for the community to enjoy the Fair. Mundo Latino’s ‘Día de los Muertos’ exhibit featured a total of 25 tombstones as a part of their Mexican cemetery floor, honoring the memory of loved ones. The Fair’s livestock and agricultural events hosted more than 18,000 livestock entries.

From Cheesecake to BBQ

More than 45,000 slices of cheesecake from Drizzle Cheesecake were enjoyed throughout the run of the Fair. The Fair’s busiest day for the 2023 season was Saturday, October 7. Big Tex welcomed more than 208,000 Fairgoers including those attending the Texas/OU football game. Over 144,000 fans were in attendance for the State Fair Classic and the Allstate Red River Rivalry at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium during the Fair. This year, the 75th Annual Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction celebrated another record-breaking year. Over $2.2 million was raised for youth livestock exhibitors and the Big Tex Scholarship Program. The Grand Champion Market Steer of the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction broke a record this year, selling for $160,000 to Frank Deel. The Big Tex BBQ & Chili Challenge included 171 entries. It featured 130 chili cooks and 41 BBQ cooks.

State Fair act
Photo by Kevin Brown for State Fair of Texas

More than 154,000 rides were taken on the iconic Texas Star Ferris Wheel. Approximately 65 faith leaders came together for fellowship during the annual Pastors Luncheon hosted by the State Fair of Texas during the Fair on October 12, 2023. Ag Awareness Day gathered 166 chapters of 4-H, FFA, and FCCLA to participate in the canned food drive, donating more than 27,900 pounds of food to the North Texas Food Bank. In addition, 20 members of 4-H, FFA, and FCCLA went to local schools to read about the farm-to-table process to 200 second graders. Five concessionaires joined the State Fair of Texas community of vendors this year, bringing our total number of food and beverage concessionaires to 91. Nearly 300 nonprofit leaders attended Community Engagement Day, which was hosted by the State Fair of Texas during the Fair on October 17.

Celebrity Chefs at State Fair

Fairgoers joined more than 100 celebrity chefs who brought their culinary creations to the Celebrity Chef Demo Kitchen. The Big Tex Contact Center answered more than 13,500 calls from fairgoers during the run of the Fair. Over 500,000 prizes were won on the State Fair Midway, valued at $1,650,000. The State Fair of Texas and the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House & Steering Committee hosted the Sixth Annual Juanita Craft Humanitarian Awards. They honored seven individuals and one organization following in Mrs. Craft’s footsteps, with nearly 130 community members attending. As of 2023, Big Tex Urban Farms has donated more than 128,693 pounds of fresh produce. This equates to more than 1.4 million servings donated to help feed the South Dallas/Fair Park community since 2016. The Livestock Birthing Barn celebrated 74 animal births throughout the run of the Fair: 56 piglets, 10 calves, five kids (aka, baby goats), and three lambs.

Dinos at Lagoon
State Fair of Texas photo by Kevin Brown

More than 30 acts took to the Chevrolet Main Stage this year, with Lil Jon and Yahritza y Su Esencia drawing the largest crowds at their free concerts. Over 131,000 people visited the Hall of State to enjoy two exhibits, the Texas Tech University Centennial and the Texas Rangers Bicentennial. More than 300 of the latest vehicles and 14 boats were on display all 24 days of the State Fair of Texas at the Texas Auto Show. More than 30 dogs found their fur-ever homes through the DFW Rescue Me booth. In 2023, the Fair’s Big Tex Scholarship Program awarded more than $1.3 million in new college scholarships to more than 220 students 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 2024 Big Tex college scholarship.

Cookie Contest Draws Crowds

A total of 8,010 individual cookies entered the gates of the State Fair of Texas on the day of the Cookie contest. Throughout the 24 days of the Fair, 2,937 activities happened across the fairgrounds, including shows like Soap Bubble Circus, Monarch Releases at the Texas Discovery Gardens, live music shows, and more. The Love Bug horn blew more than 4,000 times throughout the 24-day run of the Fair.

State Fair performers
State Fair of Texas photo by Kevin Brown

The State Fair of Texas marketing team made 44,532 new Fair friends across all social media channels during the Fair. The marketing team gave away 48 items across 24 daily live streams on Instagram and Facebook, including a brand-new mattress. More than 111,000 individual sopapillas were sold in 24 days at the Texas Sopapilla Factory and Texas Holy Fried Ribs and Fusion BBQ — home to Cody and Lauren Hays’ Big Tex Choice Award-winning Bourbon Banana Caramel Sopapillas.

While the above facts and figures provide an overview of what could be summarized from the 2023 State Fair of Texas, what is not quantified is the number of joyful lifelong memories fairgoers and their families, our vendors, and our staff made throughout the 24-day run. The State Fair of Texas is honored to be an integral part of the year for so many families. We hope y’all will join us again next year for the 2024 State Fair of Texas, running September 27 through October 20, 2024 in historic Fair Park.

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.