By Sarah Blaskovich
From The Dallas Morning News
Dallas—The State Fair of Texas had the highest attendance of all fairs in 2022, industry news source Carnival Warehouse announced last week. The State Fair of Texas saw 2.5 million people at Dallas’ Fair Park in 2022, edging it just above the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s 2.4 million attendees.
State Fair spokeswoman Taylor Austin said her team was thrilled that their event “reigns supreme” among other similar carnivals or festivals. While State Fair of Texas is neck-and-neck with the Houston rodeo in attendance, it is more often compared to the Minnesota State Fair, the third-biggest in 2022, with 1.8 million attendees.
Both Minnesota and Texas have famous deep-fried food items that get more inventive every year. And each have operated for well over 100 years. But they have some differences, too.
“The State Fair of Texas and Minnesota are notorious for being the ‘biggest’ state fairs in the country. It depends what folks consider ‘biggest’ to be—whether you’re measuring by the length of time the event runs for, the size of the fairgrounds, or the number of attendees each year,” Austin explains. “The State Fair of Texas runs for double the length of the Minnesota State Fair, and historically sees higher attendance, however the Minnesota State Fairgrounds are 45 acres larger than the Fair Park footprint.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed carnival protocols, Austin says fair executives across the country have shared industry ideas now more than ever.
Attendance numbers are less of a competition these days, she says. But, still, the two fairs really are … bigger in Texas.
In an email, Austin gives credit to the tourists and regulars who visited Fair Park in 2022: “It’s all thanks to our fairgoers that we are the No. 1 fair in the country.”
Interestingly, the State Fair of Texas has been in operation since 1886, but it began officially tracking attendance only since 2016. According to the numbers from the Dallas fair reps, the Houston rodeo had slightly larger numbers of attendees in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Attendance rates were up among the top 50 fairs in 2022 except for 18 on the list, Carnival Warehouse notes. The increased traffic in Dallas in 2022, up about 15% from 2021, was welcome news for State Fair of Texas executives, especially after the fair was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Karissa Condoianis, senior vice president of public relations for the State Fair of Texas, said the 2022 event offered a feeling of normalcy.
Although the State Fair of Texas is just about 250 days away, a team of full-time staffers works year-round to put on the 24-day event each fall.
”We actually started planning the 2023 State Fair of Texas before the gates of the 2022 Fair had even closed,” Austin writes.
The 2023 State Fair of Texas will run Sept. 29 through Oct. 22.
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