Folks come together for friendly competition, educational experiences, stunt show thrills, and so much more at the East Texas State Fair. The lineup of events at this annual event draws thousands, and with the community as the focus, the fair is a family-oriented event the kids will ask to return to year after year.
Don’t miss the horticultural show, the marketplace for everything Texan, and the livestock show with pint-sized competitors. The petting zoo is a not-to-be-missed activity before dressing up for an old-time photograph.
Watch a farm-to-table cooking demonstration, catch local talent on the community stage, and be impressed at the art show. The kids will be begging for a pony ride, followed by a face painting session. The carnival rides are next on the schedule and you best plan for an afternoon there. Once the gang is tired and ready for a rest, head to a concert, magic show or piano duel.
North America’s largest municipal rose garden is found here, so make that a stop on your way to the campground. A beautiful region of the United States, Tyler, Texas has plenty of green spaces and lakes to enjoy. Take advantage while here and make a note of your favorite spots for the return trip next year.
Buy your tickets online at www.etstatefair.com at a pre-discount price and save the wait when you get to the fairgrounds. Purchase a general admission pass for around $10 and a Ride All Day wristband in the ballpark of $30 for day long fun. All exhibits and stage performances are free, with the exception of the ticketed concerts. Be sure to check the East Texas State Fair website for special days like “students free.”
Depending on how far you want to take the road trip, you can include Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas in your travel itinerary. Within reasonable proximity, these cities will show you the urban cowboy side of the state. Tyler is a big shopping destination, and September is also a great time to hit the antique shops and the parks of the area. As you approach the East Texas State Fair, watch for signage. Tyler has a weather system website that is updated regularly to alert visitors to active weather.
Paid parking is cheap and plentiful at the fair when you use the Harvey Convention Center, Mike Carter Field, or Rose Stadium lots. You can also park for free on some of the surrounding streets but will have to arrive early to take advantage of that option. ADA-accessible parking is near the South Entrance.
Check the Tyler Transit website to see if the bus will work for you as a mode of transport to the fair. Alternately, the fair organizers have initiated a carpool, rideshare, and taxi lane for convenient drop-offs at the North Entrance gate. Consider this a stress-free option for getting to the fair, with no parking hassles to worry about at all, and it’s environmentally-friendly, too.
There is no onsite camping available, but the Eastern region of Texas is not short on beautiful places to stay. Make the accommodation choice a fun family chore ahead of time. Planning a vacation is almost as fun as going on one, after all.
State parks and private campgrounds both have excellent offerings for an unforgettable camping experience. Claim a lakeside spot with a fire ring right outside your RV door. Swim and fish to your heart’s content and sleep to the sounds of crickets and frogs. If nestling your rig under the pines is more your style, do so and revel in the silence of the night. RV camping options are as close as a 15-minute drive from the East Texas State Fair.
Strollers and wagons are permitted on the grounds but cannot be brought into the exhibition arenas when viewing livestock. Leave them outside the barn and supervise the young ones carefully so that the animals are not startled by quick moves and loud voices. Wear comfy footwear and expect tired feet. Make a point to rest throughout the day and consider bringing a change of footwear.
The temperatures will be hot, which makes for easy packing. Shorts, dresses, t-shirts and bathing suits make the grade. For fairground-wear, keep it light with good coverage for protection from the sun’s rays. Get the kids a bright cowboy hat for coverage of the neck and ears on extra sunny days. Put rain gear in the camper and make it a light-weight poncho as a rainy day will still be a hot one.
For a Texas vacation, campground comfort is a must. Bring lawn chairs for sitting under the shade cover and pack a cooler that can sit on the picnic table, filled with ice and cold drinks, which are a necessity all day long. When leaving the campsite for the day, pack sunscreen and refillable water bottles. Outside food and drinks cannot be carried into the fair, but refill your water bottles often or enjoy a slushy while watching entertainment on the stage.
The carnival rides will thrill the children, and you may have trouble getting them to slow down for even a minute. Take a break from the merry-go-round and pop into an exhibition barn for a few minutes shade. Find a spot under a tree or tent and reapply the sunscreen while resting the feet. Teens should have a meet-up time and place determined so that when it’s time to head back to camp, everyone is easily re-united.
Hearty French toast topped with fruit is the ideal breakfast to sate the appetite after a night in the woods. If you are lunching at camp, make nachos topped with chicken and vegetables. Steaks and foil pack potatoes with a garden salad top off the day. To facilitate easy campground meals all week long, have a good supply of charcoal briquets and a camp stove full of fuel. Check the RV propane as well before hitting the road.
Texas barbecue is on the menu in Tyler. Sample ribs, pulled pork, and state-famous brisket. For those who prefer a meal from the sea, scallops, clams, and mussels await. Chicken, pasta, and pizza are always available. If you want to venture to another land, take a culinary journey to Thailand or Vietnam.
The East Texas State Fair is renowned for Food Row, where you can get just about any type of food imaginable. Corndogs, crawfish nachos, lobster mac and cheese, and smoked meatloaf are a few of the choices. Ease a sweet tooth with a slushie, fried cheesecake, homemade pie, or a deep-fried brownie. Not to be missed, the artisans show their Texas pride with jams, jellies, crafts, boots, and clothing. There is also a marketplace for additional shopping, so grab a Texas souvenir for your friends back home.
Security staff members are on hand to check bags upon entry and to ensure policies are being met, such as the no-smoking rule. If you see suspicious behavior, do not hesitate to inquire. Service dogs are permitted on site with credentials, but other than that, only registered livestock can be on the grounds.
Expect hot days while at the East Texas State Fair. Dress accordingly and have the RV set up for AC if need be. Keep the shade cover fully open for a cool, darkened interior in the camper. Often, the nights will be a temperature that allows open windows for sleeping. When cooking and enjoying a campfire, adhere to regulations as many of the southern states will have restrictions due to hot, dry weather.
Emergency Medical Services has a booth at the fair, so familiarize yourself with it upon arrival at the grounds. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid headaches and lightheadedness from too much heat. When packing the camper, take inventory of the first aid kit, and make sure that you have bandaids, antibacterial ointment, gauze, tweezers, and pain relief medicine.