Millions of people gather at Fair Park every year to make unforgettable memories with their loved ones at the annual State Fair of Texas and of course, eat lots of Fletcher’s® Corny Dogs! In addition to all the Fair fun and food, however, the State Fair is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote AGRICULTURE, EDUCATION, and COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT through quality entertainment in a family-friendly environment. This National Nonprofit Day, the Fair would like to celebrate all the ways that your ticket makes a difference for Texans across the Lone Star State.
BIG TEX URBAN FARMS
The greenest thumbs at the Fair can be found at the Errol McKoy Greenhouse, located on the Fair’s iconic Midway. This large greenhouse is Big Tex® Urban Farms, an initiative that sprouted in 2016 with the goal of growing fresh, healthy foods right in the heart of the city. As of July 2023, the Farms have donated more than 1.3 million servings to organizations in South Dallas, an area affected by food insecurity. That’s a lot of greens! For more information about the Farms and how you can help, visit BigTex.com/BTUF.
BIG TEX YOUTH LIVESTOCK AUCTION
Each year, thousands of exhibitors from across the state of Texas compete for a coveted spot in the annual Big Tex® Youth Livestock Auction. Hosted in the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center during the State Fair of Texas, the auction gives these young exhibitors a chance to show off their animals and compete for the Grand Champion Prize.
Last year, the auction raised nearly $2 million for Texas youth. All excess proceeds go right back to the community through the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Program, which has awarded more than $30 million in auction awards and scholarships since its inception.
BIG TEX SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Named after everyone’s favorite cowboy, the Big Tex® Scholarship Program supports Texas students with new college scholarships every year, expanding educational opportunities for thousands of students across the state. In 2023, the Fair was proud to award 222 scholarships, for a total of more than $1.3 million.
Since 1992, the Big Tex Scholarship Program has awarded a total of more than $17.4 million to more than 3,000 Texas students through several different scholarship awards, including the Juanita Craft Scholarship, Seasonal Employee Scholarship, Youth Livestock Scholarship, and more. For information about scholarships, this year’s recipients, and how to apply for next year, visit BigTex.com/Scholarship. The application for 2024 opens on Opening Day of the State Fair of Texas, September 29, 2023. In addition to the Big Tex® Scholarship Program, the State Fair hosts other educational initiatives and events in the community throughout the school year.
NEXT FEST & BIG TEX SUMMER SAMPLER
Next Fest is a free event for local DISD high school students, providing them with information on various careers from industry leaders. The students attend informative sessions that aim to expand their financial knowledge, as well as expose them to potential employers and vocational opportunities. In addition, the State Fair continues these efforts in the summer with the Big Tex Summer Sampler, a program providing opportunities for South Dallas youth to further their education with a full day of Fair-filled fun on the State Fair Midway!
COMMUNITY GRANTS AND SPONSORSHIPS PROGRAM
With hundreds of nonprofit organizations operating in the Southern Sector of Dallas, there is no shortage of ways to bolster our community. The Fair supports local changemakers with grants focused on four key areas: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, CAPACITY BUILDING FOR NONPROFITS, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING, and SOCIAL AND RACIAL JUSTICE.
In 2022, more than $576,000 in community grants and sponsorships were awarded to 83 organizations serving the South Dallas/Fair Park area. To learn more about our grant program, visit BigTex.com/Grants.
BIG TEX BUSINESS MASTERCLASS
Part of the State Fair of Texas’ success is contingent on the hundreds of businesses offering delicious food throughout the grounds, and the Fair is committed to helping small businesses during the off-season with the Big Tex Business Masterclass. This five-month cohort is comprised of seven to ten small business owners who are provided a classroom, mentoring, and hands-on opportunities for growth and exposure to the food and beverage industry.
These small business owners learn to excel in both general business operations and within festival and fair-specific environments. Plus, they have the opportunity to network with one another. While completion of this program is not an automatic acceptance to the State Fair of Texas, it allows a behind-the-scenes view and insight into what it takes to be a food and beverage vendor for the Fair. Shantelle Hawkins, 2022 graduate of the cohort and owner of Mother Dears Southern and Creole Cuisines, explains what the Masterclass means to her.
“The State Fair of Texas has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to be a part of their culture in this aspect was absolutely a dream come true. From the educational one-on-one meetings to shadowing State Fair vendors, and the thrill of attending the Fair, this was such a great experience,” said Hawkins. “I would encourage anyone in the food industry to apply in hopes of attending the Big Tex Masterclass. This program is the perfect jumpstart to introducing new vendors to the Fair culture.”
The Fair has a handful of graduates that are now vendors during the 24-day exposition. In fact, two finalists in this year’s Big Tex® Choice Awards are graduates of the Masterclass: Stephen El Gidi from Drizzle Cheesecake On A Stick with his Biscoff® Delight and Kerston & Shawn Thorns from Pearlie’s Southern Kitchen with their OX’cellent Soul Roll. For more information on the Big Tex Business Masterclass, visit BigTex.com/Masterclass.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION OF FAIR PARK
Covering 277 acres of downtown Dallas, Fair Park is a testament to the rich history and culture of the Lone Star State. It has served as the home of the State Fair for more than a century, giving visitors from all over the world a taste of Texas. Each year, the Fair contributes funds to maintain and improve these historic grounds, so that visitors can enjoy their family traditions for years to come. Visit BigTex.com/AnnualReport for more information.
Fun fact: Fair Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986—one hundred years after the first Dallas State Fair & Exposition!