State Fair of Texas Canceled

It looks like you’ll have to wait another year to enjoy a corny dog on the Midway: The State Fair of Texas has canceled the 2020 season.

The pandemic marks the first time since World War II that the fair has been canceled. The Fair has been canceled only a handful of times – World War I, planning for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and 1937 Pan American Exposition at Fair Park, and World War II.

“With a heavy heart, we are announcing that the State Fair of Texas will not open for the 2020 season,” the fair’s website announced Tuesday morning. “We believe the spirit of the Lone Star state lies in every Texan’s ability to care and look out for their neighbor and it is with this in mind, we have decided to keep our guests, staff, and partners safe and healthy during these uncertain time.

“We look forward to giving y’all a great big Howdy in 2021.”

In a press release, organizers said that the “current landscape” related to the COVID-19 pandemic led the State Fair of Texas Board of Directors to vote for the cancelation.

The organization said that it had gathered input from fairgoers, concessionaires, exhibitors, Midway operators, medical experts, and government officials before coming to the decision. “We must do what is right for the health and wellness of our community,”

“With health and safety as the top priority, the management team and the board of directors have been discussing all potential scenarios since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the fair said, adding that ultimately all that brainstorming led to one thought: “All these plans fail if our annual celebration of Texas contributes to any further spread of the virus through our community.”

“This was an extremely tough decision. The health and safety of all involved has remained our top priority throughout the decision-making process,” said Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas. “One of the greatest aspects of the Fair is welcoming each and every person who passes through our gates with smiles and open arms. In the current climate of COVID-19, there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love.

“While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas,” she continued. “The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season.”

The Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and livestock shows, Big Tex Scholarship Program, Big Tex Urban Farms, and the Fair’s community outreach initiatives will continue to have funding and the organization said it will maintain as many of the livestock and creative arts participation opportunities as possible.

“While the State Fair of Texas is canceled for 2020, the NCAA, respective conferences, and participating universities – the University of Texas & University of Oklahoma and Prairie View A&M University & Grambling State University – will be in charge of making decisions regarding the football games that occur at Cotton Bowl Stadium during this unprecedented time of COVID-19,” the organization said. “Should football be played this fall, the schools will be playing in the Cotton Bowl as scheduled, despite the cancellation of the 2020 State Fair.”

“While we are heartbroken at the notion of not welcoming more than 2.5 million of our closest friends for this annual celebration of the Lone Star State, the excitement we feel in moving forward with planning the 2021 State Fair of Texas and keeping this 134-year tradition alive will keep us motivated until we can greet our fairgoers, seasonal staff, and business partners again in a safe environment,’” said Mitchell Glieber, president of the State Fair of Texas.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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