A Look Back at the 2015 State Fair of Texas

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The State Fair of Texas is not just about the fried food sensations. There is so much more going on, and many assist our community in a large way.

Although the 2015 State Fair of Texas has officially packed up for the year, its success will continue to impact the community long after Big Tex bids his final farewell for the year. Thanks to record participation from loyal fairgoers, the State Fair is breaking new ground with its nonprofit initiatives. Proving to be the most successful year in Fair history, the 2015 event brought big crowds and an even bigger community impact. With the majority of funds going to participating vendors, the Fair generated in excess of $53.6 million in coupon sales for food and rides – an all-time record, making the event the most successful in its 129-year history.

With a $10 million increase over 2014’s record total in coupon sales, the proceeds from this year’s Fair will provide more support to the local community than ever before. When broken down into separate components, the Fair itself is a collection of small businesses – comprised of independent vendors, concessionaires, ride owners and operators, artists, entertainers and more. The Fair partners with a wide variety of entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunity to operate their individual businesses here in Fair Park for the event’s 24-day run. By showcasing small businesses and providing job opportunities to more than 6,000 seasonal employees every year, the Fair encourages economic growth in the surrounding area. With an estimated overall economic impact of more than $600 million, the Fair plays a significant role in the community.

“The State Fair of Texas has always been an important event to the City of Dallas because of its impact on the local economy, tourism and job force,” adds Dallas City Councilwoman Tiffinni A. Young. “With the increased focus on the future of Fair Park, I am proud that the Fair was extremely successful and will set big records in almost every category this year.”

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Bringing the traditional lineup of food, festivities and family fun, the 2015 State Fair also threw a few new additions into the mix. The Hall of State hosted the “Big Texas Music” exhibit, honoring well-known artists hailing from the Lone Star State. Mundo Latino presented “Guitarras de Mexico” as its annual exhibit in the Women’s Museum, highlighting the history of guitars, guitar makers and guitarists.

Celebrating the rich history of our great state, the Lone Star Horse Spectacular featured professional riders on horseback performing in coordination with a historical narrative. Crowds gathered nightly for the completely remastered  Illumination Sensation, a display of dancing waters, special effects, lively music and vibrant fireworks. For the first time ever, the Sound Stage and Dr Pepper Stage both featured rotating acts in their musical lineup. Free concerts on the Main Stage remained a fairgoer favorite, with the largest crowds at Pesado, Lecrae, The Beach Boys, MercyMe, Jay Perez and Emilio.

Community members got crafty with more than 8,900 entries in the Fair’s Creative Arts competitions. Another State Fair staple was the largest new car auto show in the Southwest, giving visitors the chance to check out the hottest 2016 models. Big Tex’s Farmyard found a new home near the Kids’ Boardwalk, providing visitors with interactive exhibits focusing on the importance of agriculture. Fairgoers flocked to participating vendors on Thrifty Thursdays, the newest food discount program which offered a variety of signature menu items at a reduced price.

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Originally established as a livestock exposition back in 1886, it is without question that the Fair has deep roots in agriculture. Acknowledging the significance of farming and ranching in Texas’ past, present and future, the Fair continues to promote agricultural growth through its large number of educational opportunities. From its interactive exhibits explaining how food gets from farm to table, to the variety of competitive livestock events and leadership contests, the Fair encourages all visitors to learn more about agriculture. With a 13% increase from last year, the 2015 State Fair hosted a total of 10,722 livestock entries. Overall participation numbers increased by 32%, with 5,528 students competing in the Fair’s livestock and agricultural shows.

The annual Youth Livestock Auction raised more than $1.5 million in scholarships and prizes for students from around the state. Another record was set when III Forks Steakhouse and the Big Tex Champion Club purchased the Grand Champion Market Steer for $130,000 at the auction. The Fair’s Ag Awareness Day also brought record numbers – with more than 7,700 students representing 169 chapters of 4-H, FFA and FCCLA participating in the canned food drive, a total of 23,896 pounds of food were collected and donated to the North Texas Food Bank.

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