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STATE FAIR OF TEXAS CELEBRATES 120th BIRTHDAY
Ride, Game, and Food Grosses up

11/2/2006

By Flamo

Photo courtesy of Flamo

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The State Fair of Texas at Fair Park in Dallas has consistently ranked as the largest fair in North America. It features over 70 rides, 200 food concessions, games and novelty and concessions too numerous to count. There are rows of vendors pitching every product imaginable.

The fair is a huge livestock event with all the animals, contests and judging. With numerous auto makers on hand, one would get feeling it is a gigantic car show with the dealers putting up huge displays. Chevy is the big winner here as they are one of the main sponsors of the fair and have a big presence.

The midway is independently operated and everything is booked through the fair. This includes all of the rides, games, food and novelties. The fair has a ride inspector that inspects every ride before it is allowed to open and he spends time oPhoto By Flamon the midway watching operations. The concessions are made of aluminum construction with a heavy, dark blue vinyl with confetti chips representing this yearís colors. The games and stock are furnished by the individual concessionaires. A sun umbrella covers most of the concession area. All of the workers are required to wear uniforms that consist of a long sleeved white shirt and black pants. These are rented or purchased through the fair office. Rides and food concessions work on a coupon system, each coupon valued at fifty cents. The games continue to work on cash.

There is a well-concealed cafeteria for the workers with reasonable prices for a good meal. The cafeteria has specials for each day providing a good variety of selections.

The industries continued reliance on foreign help was evidenced by numerous operators from countries such as England, Holland, Germany and Russia to. Several of the rides had independent factory reps handling and in many cases operating the rides.

The atmosphere among the show people was very friendly and cooperative. I met several people who were helpful and friendly in every sense of the word. They offered information and opinions with smiles. Most agreed that on average, their grosses were up this year slightly above last year.

Security is heavy with a police substation on the ground. Police sit in elevated platforms scattered throughout the grounds and the massive parking lots.

A fee of ten dollars is charged for parking and admission is thirteen dollars, one of the highest fees in the country. There are several discount days for seniors, schools and similar groups. Senior Day is generally the slowest day of the fair and my visit on Senior Day, October 5th was no exception. Local sponsors offer coupons that reduce admission cost on average of three dollars. The fair does not track attendance but gauges the event based on ride and food coupons. One of middle weekends is the huge Oklahoma/Texas football game. The midway is adjacent to the Cotton Bowl with over 100,000 expected to be in attendance.

People were willing to spend money and the result was a record year of spending on food, rides and games of over $26,250,000, breaking 2003ís record of $24,663,770.

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